A new sporting phenomenon has become a huge rage around the world called Kitesurfing or kiteboarding. It is a surface water sport combining aspects of windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, and gymnastics into one extreme sport. A kitesurfer or kiteboarder harnesses the power of the wind with a large controllable power kite to be propelled across the water on a kiteboard similar to a small surfboard, with or without foot-straps or bindings. It is starting to pick up as an adventure sport in India. While Goa is popular for windsurfing, usually lovers of KiteSurfing end up spending lots of money traveling to countries like the US, Australia, and South Africa etc. for the love of the sport. I believe India is finally taking the sport seriously and the country recently (in May, 2013) saw the Red Bull Quila Surf in the first ever Kitesurfing competition of the country that took place in the coastal district of Raigad.
Given that kite flying is a traditional sport in India enjoyed by young and old with great fervor it seems like a natural for them to transition to kitesurfing. There are many kite flying festivals in India during the month of January and it is a delight to watch Indian rooftops lined with people and the skies lit up with colorful kites during this time. The one-string paper of the kite is made light to easily maneuver with the help of meters of kite thread used for flying kites and popular as manjja in India. There is also an international kite festival held every year in Ahmedabad on January 14th.
On the other hand, the sport of kitesurfing calls for a location with dependable side-onshore winds and a surrounding body of water with a good embarking area. India has the advantage of high-wind coastal areas for Kitesurfing. The Konkan coast; Goa, and the Mandhwa beach where the winds are strong and consistent carry immense potential for the sport. The sport is popular all over the world with surfers regularly traveling to kitesurfing locations in Egypt, Sri Lanka, and Thailand etc. to enjoy kitesurfing. India too can increase tourism by attracting foreign kitesurfing enthusiasts by developing some of these high-potential locations!
Still at a budding stage, the sport of kitesurfing in India has the air of adventure and immense potential as the next adventure sport in India; and besides the tourist, kitesurfing can become a big hit for a large number of urban youth looking for thrill and excitement.
Your thoughts are welcome.
Sanjay Puri has been working on Indian-American issues and facilitating stronger US-India relations through USINPAC (US India Political Action Committee) and AUSIB (Alliance for US India Business), two bipartisan organizations that he chairs.