Stows Small, Plays Big

Kitesurfing kits are the newest must-have toys aboard sailing and motoryachts.

Kiteboarding Kit
Cabrinaha says its clients include well-known yacht owner Sir Richard Branson.Jody Macdonald

Yacht toys are fun, but they’re not without challenges. Some require cranes to launch, or WaveRunners to use, or a crew of three to inflate and deploy. And when the fun in the sun is done, they eat a monster-size chomp of lazarette space.

All of which is why kiteboarding kits are showing up on yachts from the Caribbean to the South Pacific. No launch equipment is needed, the only power required is wind, and the gear is designed for a single person to handle.

Kiteboarding Kit
Cabrinha Quest books kitesurfing charters.Courtesy Jody Macdonald

Perhaps best of all is that the space needed for stowage is akin to a wakeboard and a hefty backpack — that is, if you can limit yourself to just one kit after you learn how to harness the wind.

"There is a learning curve to it, but it's a quick one," says Karmen Brown, marketing manager for Maui-based Cabrinha , which got its first high-end kit requests from superyacht owners about five years ago. "Most people can do it in three to five days, and they're totally having fun."

Kiteboarding Kit
Switchblade kites in action.Jody Macdonald

Cabrinha is owned by NeilPryde, which was founded by an Olympic sailor. That company used to make sailing yacht sheets, then expanded into Windsurfers and, in 2000, acquired Cabrinha. Some of the sailmakers in the factory have 40 years of experience — expertise that helps to explain the Cabrinha gear’s price point.

A starter kit, Brown says, runs $2,500 to $3,000. That includes four items: kite, board, bar (to steer the kite) and harness. Each can be customized, with different kites and boards for different styles of play. The Cabrinha Radar kite, for instance, is a good beginner kite because it relaunches easily when you’ve crashed into the drink. The Switchblade is for cruising along or trying some tricks, while the Drifter has a slack-line component for surfing.

Kiteboarding Kit
Company founder Pete Cabrinha was in Guinness World Records for surfing a 70-foot wave off Maui.Jody Macdonald

Kites come in different sizes too. “You need a 7-meter kite for really windy days and a 13-meter kite for really light-wind days,” she says. “But you can go out on a foil board with a 13-meter kite in less than 5 knots of wind, and it will work.” Cabrinha will send instructors to yachts as liveaboard crew for a few days of lessons, which Brown says a lot of people find similar to learning how to sail.

“It takes your mind away,” she says. “You’re concentrating on keeping the kite up and on keeping yourself up on the board. Your mind is fully occupied, and everyone has a great time doing it.”

CHARTER WITH THE PROS

Cabrinha sponsors the 57-foot Lagoon Cabrinha Quest, which is on a five-year cruise to find the best, most remote locations for kitesurfing, regular surfing, scuba diving and stand-up paddleboarding. Full-yacht charters for 10 guests run $75,000 for 10 days aboard with kiteboarding instructors. By the time you read this, Cabrinha Quest is expected to be in New Caledonia.

"We have a 74-year-old woman who comes in for gear. Anybody can do this if you're just a little bit athletic."

- Karmen Brown, Marketing Manager, Cabrinha

Kiteboarding Kit
Instructors can train you to ride from the yacht to the beach.Jody Macdonald
Kiteboarding Kit
Kitesurfing gear stows in a space the size of a large backpack.Jody Macdonald