The use of kites to propel an object across land or water was first pioneered as early as the 1800s. This was mainly as alternatives were being looked at as a result of some countries issuing a tax on transportation by means of horses. Various successes were achieved, including a crossing of the English Channel in a kite-powered small canvas boat. It was in 1977 that the first patent for KiteSurfing was established by Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise from The Netherlands. The patent covered a person standing on a floating board that could also resemble a surfboard, while being powered by a type of parachute attached to a harness around the waist. Although the patent did not attract commercial appeal, it was here that Kitesurfing originated. In 1982 a record was set at sea when Greg Locke and Simon Carter became the first to travel as far as 26 miles along the English Channel under wind power. This was also a world record for kite traction at sea. Various successful designs followed combining kites with snow skis, water skis and roller skates. These designs also included kites in different styles and shapes, which were licensed out to manufactures over the next two decades paving the way for the sport to gain a greater appeal among most age groups.
It was in 1999 that kitesurfing became a mainstream sport with windsurfing and surfing playing a major part in the design of the kiteboard to a single directional board. Red Bull launched a freestyle competition in 2000 at the Hawaiian island of Maui, namely the Red Bull King of the Air. Competitors were evaluated on the height achieved, their versatility, and style in the air. This competition still features every year in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2001 a new style of board was designed that suited flat water riders more. It had a tip on either end making it bi-directional. In 2012 kitesurfing replaced windsurfing as an Olympic Sport for the 2016 Rio Olympics, but the decision was overturned after a vote by the General Assembly of ISAF. The sport was included in the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics held in Buenos Aires and it would appear to be only a matter of time before it is included as an official Olympic Sport. Some of the amazing records by riders includes the speed record of 57.97 knots achieved by Alex Caizergues of France in 2017. In 2015 Francisco Lufinha of Portugal sailed for 874 kilometres without stopping from Lisbon to Madeira. Francisco improved on his record achieved two years before.
The Global Kitesports Association or GKA has its registered address in Hamburg, Germany. GKA works alongside manufacturers to constantly improve technology for the global growth and appeal of the sport. GKA oversee World Cup events that involve a World Series in Freestyle, Kitesurfing, Racing, and Park. The latter involves jumps and aerial displays from a series of ramps and obstacles strategically placed within the water.
The International Federation of Kitesports Organisations or IFKO have their headquarters in Cascais, Portugal. IFKO oversee international competitions in Kitesurfing, Landkite and Snowkite. While kitesurfing involves surfing on waves, landkiting is performed in a cart across sandy beaches or desert areas. Snowkiting is mainly performed on frozen lakes.
The International Kiteboarding Association or IKA manages five classes of Kiteboarding. These are Formula Kite, Kitefoil, Slalom, Expression and Snowkite. IKA is responsible for holding a World Championship for each of the five classes that also includes a World Ranking System. They also work in close association with World Sailing. Their headquarters are based in Montreux, Switzerland.