• Jesse Richman kites Nazaré
Just look at it. I’m not sure this particular bit of riding changed the sport outside of capturing the attention of all wave riders on earth, but there is no doubt that Jesse deserves to be in this list. He has given kiting its status as a sport for the wild. When you think kiting, you think Jesse Richman.
• WOO reaches the market 2015
They gamified kiting, with a small blue device that attaches to your board. The leaderboards continue to give joy and despair in equal measure to this day. The platform also plays host to the biggest kite competition on earth – the annual WOO Worlds – where in 2022, 7000+ riders competed.
• Carlos Mario debuts at PKRA freestyle event in Argentina 2015
In comes an unknown Brazilian kid, without a sponsor. Christophe Tack is at the helm of the PKRA world championship. No one could have predicted that ‘Bebe’ would dominate this competition, let alone the next four to five years of freestyle. He shook freestyle to its core by showing that doubles can be done with previously unseen ease.
• Giel’s double and S-loop
There aren’t many 15-second clips that have changed the shape of the sport, but Giel’s Double Loop is one such bit of video. Shot by someone having lunch at Mystic House, it first went viral on WhatsApp, before making its way onto Instagram, where it exploded. Within a fortnight, five people had all done something that, before Giel, no one thought was possible.
• Rise of the Italians
The knock-on effect of BAKL’s prominence can be seen in the success of Lorenzo Casati and Andrea Principi in the 2022 season. They won everything, with a fresh riding style and a severe lack of deference. It is significant because it symbolizes the changing of the guard – the introduction of the new generation who are quickly assassinating the sport’s former posterboys.
• Triple S earns itself the largest prize-packet
Equal pay, too.
• Kiteworld shutting down
Symbolic of social media’s domination.
• Colin beats Liam Whaley in tennis 2022
I almost vomited from fatigue but by god it was worth it.
• Big Air Kite League is founded 2018
A disgruntled Mike Mac Donald felt like there wasn’t a platform for him and his Big Air comrades to shine. At the time, there was only KOTA, whose rider list was closely guarded by the previous generation. BAKL was born, and so were a whole host of emerging talents that are now key figures in the sport.
• Richard Branson kites with Naked Girl on his back
Not feeling very comfortable putting this in the list but it is probably the most seen picture of kiting. Richard also played a key part in Nick Jacobsen’s career and he taught Barack Obama to kite in his first week after his presidency in 2016. So maybe it is justified, after all.
• Keahi wins surfer’s Wave of the Year
Kiting, being a relatively new watersport, has always been desperate for the respect of other sports. And perhaps none more than surfing. So when Keahi de Aboitiz won WOTY in 2015, it was a big deal and it was a sizable chunk of the sudden interest in strapless riding with a kite.
• Mark Shinn does board offs 2002
Mark Shinn is the two-time Freestyle World Champion before Aaron Hadlow came to town. In 2002, you could win with boardoffs and mad spins. #fullcircle
• Send It! The Movie
A complete waste of 90 minutes of your life, but it is significant. The sport had grown to such a size that it warranted a teen movie. It is dreadful. Don’t do it to yourself.
. Composite materials arrive
First attempted by Best in 2014 with their ‘Cuben Fiber’ (that exploded), things went quiet on the make-kites-lighter front until ALUULA arrived. Subsequently, all the big brands are scrambling to make their own Dyneema composites or they are buying the material from ALUULA. The result is reportedly superior performance, but huge hikes in price.
• $1,000,000 given to the first person on a sail craft to break 50 knots
A kiter does it, but the prize is never given. This is significant because it shows the gap in culture between kiting and sailing. Sailors couldn’t bring themselves to award a kiter. This gap grows and shrinks all the time. Perhaps the 2024 Olympics will be the smallest the gap has ever been.