Date Submitted: May 31, 2006
Article Type: Journal
I’ve recently come to a new direction from which to think of the future of kitesailing. By kitesailing, I don’t mean windsurfing: I’m referring to the use of kites instead of conventional sails for boats—-including large boats.
I came late to kitesailing, in l987. Dave Culp had already been at it for years and Ian Day had set a class speed record with a stack of Flexifoils and a modified Tornado catamaran back in l978. Of course, kites have been used for pulling boats around for hundreds of years at least in Oceania. George Pocock wrote the first treatise on sailing upwind using kites in the 1820s, and then he did it. In October of l987, John Waters, from Lincoln City (funny that you’d think it was in Texas, because anywhere else they’d call it a town, but no, it’s in Oregon) suggested kitesailing to me as a goal worth pursuing. And I have been, from then on.
But kitesailing still hasn’t made it to the big board yet, it’s still barely on the fringes even within the kite fraternity.
Sure, Peter Lynn Kites Ltd. now has a good start at the small end with its Kite Cat. And Kite Ship (Dave Culp and Dean Jordan) have a solid and growing market for their Outleader spinnaker replacement kites on ocean going yachts. And Don Montague (Naish Sails) successfully rigs big LEI style kites to outrigger canoes and larger catamarans. And Sky Sails from Hamburg has just announced its receipt of an eight-million Euro grant to further plans for using kites in commercial shipping. And there may be other exciting projects bubbling away. And everyone working in the field is experiencing an exponential growth in the number of enquiries from hopeful but naïve yacht owners wanting to convert to kites. But in l987 I thought kitesailing would be an established and substantial niche within the wider world of yachting by the mid-1990s, at least. Ten years past this, and it’s not making much of a showing yet. I’m too embarrassed to reprint here some things I predicted back then, specially the time scale bits.
PDF Link: Journal Issue