What’s New in Sport Kiting?

Is there a renaissance of the sport? It certainly seems that way! 

Although two-line kites have been around for over a century, modern sport kites didn’t arrive until the 1980s. This was when we first saw nylon sails stretched over a stiff and strong frame. By using a frame to create a three dimensional wing, the world of stunt flying really took off. Competitions and team flying were all the rage. And the leading kite manufacturers were producing high-end competition style kites. These were made of ripstop polyester fabric, carbon fiber and fiberglas spars, and flown on strong no-stretch fly lines. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_kite Unfortunately many of those competition and high-end models are no longer being made. You can find an active market for these kites in the used sport kite marketplaces of Facebook, eBay, and Craigslist. 


When I look through my kite collection, the majority of the models are no longer being made. There are, however, several excellent kite fabricators operating today, taking advantage of increased availability of materials, new materials, new fabrication methods, and the renewed interest in the sport, which might have been spurred by the pandemic. Today, anyone with a sewing machine and an interest in building their own sport kite can easily do so. There are open source plans online and access to all of the resources that you’d need. I built my first sport kite last winter in this very manner. I acquired materials from a variety of kite shops and drew up my plans based upon a kite in my collection that is no longer being made. Considering my totally novice sewing skills, I am quite pleased with the result. 


One of the benefits for the customer of this blend of factors is the ability to customize the fabrication of an excellent sport kite. Some enthusiasts call this the boutique market; however, it is certainly becoming more the norm. With laser cutting of fabric and 3d printer part fabrication dropping in price, the one-person kite making shop is able to produce variation with relative ease. Check out Ocean Shores Kites’ (https://oskusa.com/) offerings who fabricate kites using laser cutting of printed fabrics. Or Canvas Kite Designs (https://www.canvaskitedesigns.com) who are designing and producing high end kites with custom coloring. 

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