Kites: there are two main types of kiteboarding kites - inflatable kites and foil kites | Photo: Shutterstock

The world of kite design has evolved a lot since the invention of kiteboarding. Today, there are several types of kitesurfing kites. Discover the most popular kite designs.

Kiteboarding is a fast growing sport. In less than four decades, kite evolved from paragliding-inspired prototypes to advanced hybrid models equipped with sophisticated safety mechanisms, and high-tech depowering systems.

There are two families of kitesurfing kites: inflatable kites, and foil kites. Although they are both used in all kiteboarding disciplines, inflatable kites are definitely more suited for kiteboarding in the water, while foil kites 

Inflatable Kites

Inflatable kites feature plastic bladders within the leading edge that inflate with an air pump. The bladders give the kite its shape and provide flotation when it falls into the water.

There are four types of inflatable kites: C-Kites, Bow Kites, Delta Kites, and Hybrid Kites.

The C-Kite

The C-Kite

The C-Kite is the oldest inflatable kite, but it is still used. They are not the best pick for beginners because they generate a lot of power and lift. Nevertheless, they provide a good overall stability when unhooked, which means they can be the weapon of choice of new school, and freestyle enthusiasts. C-Kites don't have bridles and feature flat square wing tips. The C-Kite characteristics are as follow:

Shape: C-shape, long wing tips
Advantages: direct feel and control, powerful pop, great unhooked riding performance, high performance in a narrow wind range
Disadvantages: short wind range, difficult water relaunch, weak depowering, unsafe for beginners
Rider Profile: new school enthusiasts, freestyle kiteboarders

The Bow Kite

The Bow Kite

The Bow Kite is one of the most popular and widespread kite model in the world. It was introduced in the mid-2000s, and can be easily depowered - thanks to its bridle-pulley system - and relaunched. Bow Kites also provide excellent upwind performance and will excel in light, and strong winds, which means they're are frequently used in races and speed environments. The Bow Kite is a supported leading edge (SLE) kite because it has bridles attached to its leading edge. The Bow Kite characteristics are as follow:

Shape: flat profile, bridles in the leading edge, concave trailing edge
Advantages: full depowering system, safe for beginners, excels in a wide range of wind, easy to relaunch
Disadvantages: not suitable for unhooked riding
Rider Profile: beginners, cruisers, free riders, speed enthusiasts, big air kiteboarders

The Delta Kite

The Delta Kite

The Delta Kite combines characteristics of both the C-Kite and Delta Kite. With its D-shapes, short and fat profile, the Delta Kite is incredibly easy to relaunch and impresses in a wide range of winds. They can be used by beginners, free riders, big air specialists, race and wave kitesurfers. Delta Kites are relatively forgiving and will turn on slowly. The Delta Kite characteristics are as follow:

Shape: D-shape when laid out, short wing tips, short bridle
Advantages: excellent depowering potential, good wind range, auto relaunch, safe for beginners
Disadvantages: slow response
Rider Profile: beginners, wave kitesurfers cruisers, free riders, speed enthusiasts, big air kiteboarders

The Hybrid Kite

The Hybrid Kite

The Hybrid Kite offers the safety and depowering tools of a Bow Kite, and the feel and powered turns of C-Kites. It's the most common kite model in the hand of cruisers and free riders. The Hybrid Kite is a supported leading edge (SLE) kite because it has bridles attached to its leading edge. The Hybrid Kite characteristics are as follow:

Shape: short wing tips, short bridle
Advantages: excellent depowering potential, good wind range, auto relaunch, safe for beginners
Disadvantages: slow response
Rider Profile: beginners, wave kitesurfers cruisers, free riders, speed enthusiasts, big air kiteboarders

 

The Foil Kite

Foil Kites

Foil Kites have either open or closed cells along their leading edge that allow air to flow into them. Their multiple bridles support the double layered canopy. Foil Kites are mainly used by land kiteboarders and snow kiters (open cell) and kitesurfers riding in light winds (closed cell).

Foil Kites, also known as soft kites and ram air kites, can be powered and depowered efficiently and can be landed on the beach without the help of a second person. They are quite durable, too. The Foil Kite characteristics are as follow:

Shape: paragliding style, 2, 3 and 4-line systems,
Advantages: good for training, land and snow kiteboarding (open cell), and for water (closed cell)
Disadvantages: limited use, very specific advanced riding
Rider Profile: inland riders, hydrofoil racers

Learn how a kite flies. Discover the best kitesurfing kites in the world.