Kitesurfing was invented around the late 1970s but it wasn’t until the 1990s that it really started to take off and it continues to be one of the fastest growing watersports in the UK today.
Skimming across the water while hooked onto a kite seemed like a logical progression for many windsurfers who were looking for a new challenge. The sport of kitesurfing was born!
While initial designs were crude and required a high level of expertise, a whole industry rapidly sprang up and pushed the sport forwards. Equipment development made massive improvements in those early days, as did the skill level of participants.
The local scene
Hayling Island quickly became one of the main spots in the UK to head for when kiting was on the agenda, with the low tide sand bar at the Beachlands end of the island offering a perfect venue for practicing the sport.
A designated teaching school was set up on Hayling by local kiter Chris Bull. The Hayling Island Kitesurfing School was born and, in attempt to self-police the sport, Chris was also heavily involved in creating a HKA (Hayling Kitesurf Association) – the main kitesurfing club. Today, the Hayling Island Kitesurf School has become CBK, which acts as both private club and school.
Through efforts made by another local kitesurfer, Mark Clark, it is now also possible to now launch a kite from the newly recognised Kite Beach. This is just a few yards east from the funfair at central Beachlands and it is free to launch here.
Havant Borough Council approved this area at the start of 2012 after a lengthy trial period. These positive steps mean that kitesurfers now have a choice of two launch spots.
CBK continues to charge to launch at the western Beachlands site, but in return offers water safety cover and the launch spot boasts flatter water conditions – preferred by many.
In addition to the CBK Kitesurf School, private instruction is also available from various freelance coaches who live on the island.
Kitesurfing on Hayling is now a common sight. Once the pesky offspring of windsurfing, it is now a thriving sport in its own right. Hayling is noted as one of the best kitesurf areas in the UK and has even bred champion riders, including Sam Light who competes on the world stage but revisits his old stomping ground when opportunity allows.
Kitesurfing Key Facts
- The main area to kitesurf is off the sea front at the Beachlands end of the island. Low tide is best
- Two launch spots are available, CBK at the very western end and Kite Beach located at central Beachlands. CBK is a private membership club offering safety cover. Kite Beach is free but no safety cover is provided
- Tuition is available from CBK and other private freelance coaches
- Two kite shops operate on the island – CBK is located on the Sea Front Road and Andy Biggs Watersports in West Town