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Friday, high noon at the Dolphinarium beach; 12 degrees, torrential rain and 3-5 meter-high waves have not dissuaded a few brave surfers, some only kids, from trying their luck against the elements.
There are some kite surfers in the mix as well, hoping for the right combination of strong winds and a high wave to launch themselves into the cold, wet sky.
Kite surfing, the latest trend on the extreme sports scene in Israel today, is neither wind surfing nor wave surfing... and it has nothing to do with flying a kite.
Also known as kitesurfing, fly surfing, and kiteboarding, kite surfing involves using a power kite to pull the rider through the water on a small surfboard, a wakeboard or a kiteboard.
A kite surfer stands on the board with foot-straps or bindings, and uses the power of a large controllable kite to propel himself and the board across the water. However, this simplicity also makes kite surfing challenging. Your body is the only connection between the kite and the board and you have to control them both at the same time: piloting the kite in the sky, and steering the board on the water.
The sport is still in its infancy, but is rapidly growing in popularity. In 1998 there were probably fewer than 30 kite surfers worldwide. In 2006 the number of kitesurfers has been estimated between 150,000 to 200,000.
The sport is becoming safer due to innovations in kite design, safety release systems, and instruction. Many riding styles have evolved to suit different types of riders and conditions, such as wake style, wave riding, freestyle, jumping, and cruising.
The record kite surfing speed stands at 77 kmph and the record height is over15 meters.
In Israel surfers can choose to kite surf in the Mediterranean, the Sea of Galilee and in Eilat, depending on the time of year.
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