Kite powered boats – a different way to play

Kite powered boats are something that haven’t really received the attention I think they should. A kite is a brilliantly simple and efficient way of powering a boat and kite powered boats can provide a whole load of fun without the complexity of equipment and maintenance that a traditional sail boat requires.

My better half sails racing dinghies, and we both sail yachts, but the cost and hassle of buying, maintaining and storing a sailing boat has always put us off buying one. We both started kitesurfing last year, and it crossed my mind that you could easily power a boat with a kite. A quick search of the web showed me I wasn’t the first person to have that idea!

In the 1800s, George Pocock used kites of increased size to propel carts on land and ships on the water, using a four-line control system—the same system in common use today. Both carts and boats were able to turn and sail upwind. The kites could be flown for sustained periods.

The potential for fun a kite powered boat has is amazing – it’s not just the speed, also the fact that all the moving bits are miles up in the air means there’s much more opportunity to mess about on the boat! Disclaimer – I’d never recommend messing about on the water – ever!

One off kite boats

Kite powered boats - the Kite Scooter

Up til now it looks like most of the kite boats out there are one offs – some of them are fast, specialist boats like this mega catamaran…

while others have been cool little hobby projects like the kite scooter

or just people taking the mast off a boat and having a play around

Kite Tender

A Dutch company is now building a commercially available kite powered boat, the Kite Tender. It’s a brilliantly simple little thing, a monohull boat specifically designed to be powered by a kite. It’s easy to store and transport, and so long as you have some idea how to sail a dinghy and fly a kite it’s supposed to be really easy to learn. I’m hoping to get down to Tom Court’s place on the Isle of Wight later this year to find out for myself!

I’m sure there are plenty more kite boats out there – let us know if you’ve seen any good ones.