The Chinese are credited with using kites to propel canoes across water early in the 12th Century.

In the 1800’s George Pocock used kites of increased size to propel carts on land and ships on the water, using a 4 line control system, the same system in common use today. Both carts and boats were able to turn and sail upwind. The kites could be flown for sustained periods.[1]. The intention was to establish kitepower as an alternative to horsepower, partly to avoid the hated "horse tax" that was levied at that time[2]. In 1901, aviation pioneer Samuel Franklin Cody sailed across the English channel powered by a kite.

In October 1977 Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise (Netherlands) gets the first patent[7] for KiteSurfing. The patent covers, specifically, a water sport using a floating board of a surf board type where a pilot standing up on it is pulled by a wind catching device of a parachute type tied to his harness on a trapeze type belt. Although this patent did not result in any commercial interest, Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise could be considered as the originator of KiteSurfing (Wipikedia) In the late 1970s the development of Kevlar then Spectra flying lines and more controllable kites with improved efficiency contributed to practical kite traction. In 1978, Ian Day's "FlexiFoil" kite powered Tornado catamaran exceeded 40km/hr.

Through the 1980s there were sporadic and occasionally successful attempts to combine kites with canoes, ice skates, snow skis[3], water ski's and roller skates.

In 1990, practical kite buggying was pioneered by Peter Lynn at Argyle Park in Ashburton New Zealand. Lynn coupled a three-wheeled buggy with a forerunner of the modern parafoil kite. Kite buggying proved to be very popular worldwide with over 14,000 buggies sold up to 1999.

The development of modern day kitesurfing by the Roeselers in the USA and the Legagnoixs in France carried on in parallel to buggying. Bill Roeseler, a Boeing Aerodynamicist,and his son Corey Roeseler patented the "KiteSki" system which consisted of water skis powered by a two line delta style kite controlled via a bar mounted combined winch/brake. The KiteSki was commercially available in 1994. The kite had a rudimentary water launch capability and could go upwind. In 1995, Corey Roeseler visited Peter Lynn at New Zealand's Lake Clearwater in the Ashburton Alpine Lakes area, demonstrating speed, balance and upwind angle on his 'ski'. In the late 1990s, Corey's ski evolved to a single board similar to a surfboard[2].

Two brothers, Bruno Legaignoux and Dominique Legaignoux, from the Atlantic coast of France, also contributed to the development of kitesurfing from the early 1980s. In 1997 they developed and sold the breakthrough "Wipika" kite design which had a structure of preformed inflatable tubes and a simple bridle system to the wingtips, both of which greatly assisted water re-launch. End of 1996 Laird Hamilton and Manu Bertin were instrumental in demonstrating and popularising the usage of a Wipika kite pulling a board off the Hawaiian coast of Maui while in Florida Raphaël Baruch was experimenting riding windsurfing boards with various foil kites naming the sport kitesurfing. In 1997, specialized kite boards were developed by Raphaël Salles and Laurent Ness. By the end of 1998 kitesurfing had become a extreme sport, distributed and taught through a handful group of shops and schools worldwide.  The first competition was held on Maui in September 1998 and won by Flash Austin[2].

Starting in 1999, kitesurfing became a mainstream sport with the entry of key windsurfing manufacturers namely Naish and Neil Pryde. Single direction boards derived from windsurfing and surfing designs became the dominant form of kite board. From 2001 onwards, wakeboard style bi-directional boards became more popular.

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