Dutch water sports enthusiast Peter Renssen, in collaboration with designer Peter Schermer, has created a hybrid recreational boat that merges kitesurfing with sailing. Dubbed, Kitetender the original prototype has undergone four years of tests and tweaks, resulting in the Kitetender 400, which is now ready for commercial release.
The Kitetender 400 is a one to two person monohull water vessel that, instead of having a mast with a sail, features a sports kite that is attached to its core. The unique design was especially created for "kitesailing" after Renssen became obsessed with the idea when he witnessed a kitesurfer in the South of France who was having problems with his knees. The kitesurfer jumped onboard a small fishing boat before launching his kite and sailing the boat to shore.
"That image was stored in my brains for some 15 years," Renssen tells Gizmag. "As I used to be a sailor, I hated to be located at just one spot or spending a lot of time doing maintenance and rigging. So without spending hours to fit the mast you can just find a good spot to inflate your Kite, attach it to the Kitetender, launch it and away you go."
Differing from traditional sailing, kitesailing adopts many kitesurfing techniques. Launching the kite and flying are the same as kitesurfing, as are all safety systems, including a quick release and a safety leash. Furthermore the hull is closed and has an open transom (rear of the boat), which means overflowing water is gone within a short amount of time. The open transom also provides for an easy entrance onto the boat and is ideal for a person to swim out and jump onboard. To avoid damage to the vessel in the event of entering shallow waters, the Kitetender 400 comes with a pivoting centerboard and rudder.
"We always fly with a DYNO North Kiteboarding Kite, which is basically a kite for speed," says Renssen. "Upwind the Kitetender goes fast enough at a 45 degree angle. The highest speed measured to date was over 20 knots (23 mph/37 km/h) and yesterday we did 16 knots (18 mph/30 km/h) in the Kitetender 400, with 22 knots (25 mph/41 km/h) of wind."
Although the Kitetender system might sound as easy as flying a kite, Renssen does recommend that all users take kite lessons before going out for the first time.
The first Kitetender prototype was constructed with marine plywood and glued together with epoxy. After finally getting the design and the mold right, Renssen now plans for the Kitetender 400 to be constructed in fiberglass. Weighing a measly 75 kg (165 lb), the Kitetender 400 can easily be affixed to roof racks and transported on top of a car or by a small trailer.
Renssen also has plans to release a Kitetender 650 version, which would be made from aluminum. Weighing 230 kg (507 lb), this model would need to be towed behind a vehicle.
"Because of import taxes being high in some countries outside of Europe, we are hoping to export an aluminum laser cut Kitetender 650 to be delivered in parts and assembled locally," says Renssen. "In this set up, huge transport costs will be avoided and deliveries will be much quicker."
Like most water sports, the Kitetender is by no means cheap. Within Europe the Kitetender 400 is currently priced at €5,299 (US$7,090) and the Kitetender 650 will set you back €19,999 (US$26,750). Both models are now available for pre-order.
The video below shows the Kitetender 400 in action.
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