A glimpse of kiteboarding history- by Jaime Herraiz - Watersports Training
July / August / October

Kitesurfing Freeride Camp Tarifa

02.09. - 09.09.2017

Mallorca Sail and SUP Event

02.09. - 05.09.2017

Functional Movement Workshop Mallorca

February 2018

Grenadines / Caribbean - Kiteboarding at it´s best

NEW+++ Functional Training Workshops+++ NEW

A glimpse of kiteboarding history- by Jaime Herraiz

26 May. 2012

In the beginning there was Lou…   You always wonder why things end up the way they do… I guess, one of the good things about being older is that I can add facts to my list of claims, especially to the “been there, done that” chapter. So yes, I was there during the early days of freestyle kiteboarding and I, like most other passionate sportsmen, had a hero: Lou Wainman.

In 1999 Lou Wainman and Elliot Leboe starred in what was to be, the first kiteboarding video that shaped the sport for the next decade.

High” was filmed and produced by Chris Tronolone, this VHS (Yes you read that right) was a must have on any wannabe Kiteboarder shelf, there was a time when I watched it everyday before leaving the house on my way to the beach, in fact we all did here in Tarifa. And I know for a fact that we weren´t the only ones that had that obsession.

Check out the Youtube Trailer for HIGH:


It took a while until Lou´s visionary style sinked in to our riding though. In 2000 the Red Bull Sky Ride came to Tarifa and was a real turning point in the history of Kiteboarding. The contest was blessed with strong westerly winds and beautiful waves. Flash Austin was there to give us all a hint of what tricks we would be looking to perform for the next year. We tried to go higher and higher with as many multiple spins as a human could count. I remember landing those spinners with a buzz in my head… In 2001 my good friend Jeff Tobias opened up the trend for no footers. After watching loads of MotoX action he thought that what these guys were doing could be a way for the sport to move forward. At the Gorge Games event he pulled the first ever “Heart Attack” and things went crazy after that.

For the next two years I saw riders perform all sorts of no foot variations. Kites and equipment were designed to fly longer than before, boards had super sharp edges and were very small to hold down big kites in strong winds. 

Hang time got massive, everyone rode the biggest kite they could hang on to just to have that extra second in the air.

At the end of 2001 the PKRA was founded, managed by riders for the riders. We were all incredibly involved and passionate about this new adventure, the sport and the kitesurf industry in general! 

Each and every decision was taken by vote, and no one ever missed a riders meeting. You could miss your heat but there was no excuse for not being at the bar for an après contest beer. 


In fact, I believe the PKRA won more momentum and status from our camaraderie and friendship than for our actual riding performance on the water. 

These were times where we all, the organizers, PKRA official, judges and the riders were on the same level, with the same interest and we tried to do the best we could for the sake of the sport. I think the best portrait for what happened during those years was Space Monkeys, the Tronolones did a great job at captivating the essence of our daily grind, our joy and our enthusiasm for what we were doing.

Space Monkeys was a turning point for most of us.

 Check out the Youtube Trailer for Space Monkeys:


The video shows how we couldn´t really go much further down the whole MotoX route without things getting ridiculous. 

The film showed a hint of what was coming, we finally got it, Lou`s work took 5 years to sink in, but in 2003 handle passes took over and by the summer we were all equipped with different gear and a handle pass leash.


There is actually a funny story behind the handle pass leash.  When Martin and I were learning them we went to Maui and hung out with the Maui crew, especially Lou and Shannon Best, but every time we lost out kite we had to swim, walk and untangle lines, it was a real pain.

I thought it was a great waste of time, so I showed up on the beach with a rope tied to my harness and the chicken loop, I cannot begin to tell you how everyone made fun of me! So that´s my claim for the hall of fame of kiteboarding I invented handle pass leashes!

A few months later at an event in Cabarete, Franz Olry did the first attempt of a move that had been in everyone´s head for years but no one ever dare to try, the kite loop, turning our little universe into a kite loop frenzy, smashing our gear and our bodies like never before…

That was the start of what is freestyle kiteboarding today, the older guys started to retreat and we had a wave of youngsters lead by Aaron Hadlow who obviously took over from where we left off, these days they are all incredible gifted hardworking athletes.

The sport has developed into a much more professional and competitive scene, that fellowship from the early days is now gone. 

With it the mainstream appeal and leverage of the tour has naturally fallen victim to the progression of the top athletes. 

The PKRA these days is very far removed from what everyday riders aspire to. 

But the future looks bright, kiteboarding has diversified with other disciplines slowly emerging and raising more and more interest in the sport…



 And lets not forget, this is only the beginning….



Subscribe to our mailinglist