How hackers invented kiteboarding

 

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An unusual design process combining recklessness, imagination, and computers created one of the fastest-growing sports in history.

The promise of kiteboarding is that a wind strong enough to draw small whitecaps from the water can take you on a magic-carpet ride. But the same wind can be dangerously uncontrollable.Photograph from Alamy

Just as he was graduating from high school, in 1990, Chris Moore had a fanciful idea. He had noticed increasing numbers of so-called sport kites arcing through the skies above his home town of Lenexa, Kansas, outside Kansas City, Missouri. A traditional kite is tethered to its operator by a single line, and is more or less impossible to maneuver. But a sport kite—a needle-nosed, fighter-jet-like wing of nylon or polyester—has two lines, which an operator can use to induce acrobatic turns. Moore was skilled with a yo-yo and had watched riders do tricks on their bikes. He watched the sport kites soar, reverse, and double back, and wondered if the kite could become the next bicycle—a vehicle for art, competition, or some combination of the two.

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