Kiteboarding is the all-action watersport merging the qualities of surfing, windsurfing and wakeboarding.
Connected to the kite by a harness, the rider is powered across the water by the wind. (Kiteboarding uses a twin tip board to ride on open water, while kitesurfing uses a directional board to ride the waves.)
One of the sport’s all-time greats, Aaron Hadlow, is a five-time World Champion, two-time Red Bull King of the Air winner, and recent victor at Woo Worlds 2021 – setting a new European highest jump record of 34.4 meters.
Ahead of this year’s Red Bull King of the Air, which takes place in Cape Town between 18 November and 3 December, the 33-year-old took time out to explain why you should give this extreme sport a go.
1. Get full-body strong
With kiteboarding, no muscle is left unworked.
“It’s unlike going to the gym,” says Hadlow, “where it can be a struggle with your last set, and you can’t wait for session to be done. Instead, you can be out on the water for hours, conditioning your body and getting in a solid arm, core, and leg workout.”
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2. Combine different board sports
“It has a unique fun factor,” says Hadlow, “because you can cross over from different sports – surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding – and combine your skills.
“With kiteboarding you’re able to a fly a kite, which powers you to surf, race, jump high and perform technical tricks, so there’s a real adrenaline rush.”
3. Increase your balance, reactions and coordination
“The water can be unpredictable,” says Hadlow, “with the waves and wind creating a constantly changing ocean, so riding the board will test your balance and reaction.”
He adds that the dual task of controlling b0th kite and board will force improvements in coordination.
4. Relieve stress
A wealth of research points to the calming power of water, and when you’re soaring above it, trying to keep a kiteboard in check, you’re going to have very little headspace for worries of day-to-day stresses.
“When you’re out on the water,” says Hadlow, “it’s a huge relief from any mental tension and gives you a break from everyday life. You feel totally free.”
5. Get into nature
“The happiness you get from kiting in the winds and being outdoors is second to none,” says Hadlow.
“More importantly, it’s environmentally friendly: you don’t need to add fuel to a boat to go out and enjoy on the ocean.”
6. Develop with an emerging sport
The sport is rapidly on the rise, and has been confirmed as an event at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
“It’s a great time to get involved, grow, and progress with the sport,” says Hadlow. “You might even be the next up and coming talent.”
Keep up to date with Aaron Hadlow’s progress at redbullkingoftheair.com