Sri Lanka at forefront of kitesurfing craze

By Dilsiri Welikala

Kitesurfing can claim to be one of the coolest sports you can do on water – and Sri Lanka is bidding to be one of the most exciting venues in the world

For the first time in this part of the world, Sri Lanka’s kitesurfing scene will take a new twist, offering 100km-plus downwind trips along the north-west coast.

For those not in the know, kitesurfing is a wind-powered surface watersport using a kite and a board to skim across the water.

Kitesurfing, a new sport that has seen tremendous growth, harnesses the power of the wind through a large parachute-type kite to propel a rider across the water on a small surfboard or a kiteboard.

Sri Lanka, known for manufacturing of kitesurfing gear, is now on the global kitesurfing map as one of the world’s best destinations.

With endless flat water and waves coupled with tropical waters many are starting to flock to this island paradise.

Downwinding is a unique product offering for those kitesurfers who want a bit of adventure. Trips commence in Kalpitiya at Kitesurfing Lanka and end in the newest Kitesurfing Destination in Mannar at Vayu.

Groups, comprising around six to eight people, kitesurf alongside the Puttalam Lagoon – bordering the Wilpattu National Park – swing past the historic Kudiramale Point and proceed past Arrippu, Silawathura and Mannar.

For safety, a support boat will follow the group and a ground support vehicle will look after logistics and food. The navy and coastguard are also alerted and special permission has been obtained for these trips. The journey of 135kms will take 2 days of kitesurfing.

While the downwind journey is for more advanced riders, Sri Lanka’s north-west coast is ideal for learning the sport. The calm and shallow lagoons in Kalpitiya and Mannar offer great learning conditions where students are able to progress within a matter of days.

In the past decade the sport of kitesurfing has transformed communities in Sri Lanka for the better

World No 1 Mikaili Sol and no 3 Paula Novotna have already utilized Sri Lanka’s world-class conditions to train themselves for the World Tour.

While the big names already set eyes on Sri Lanka, large-scale international kitesurfing events are also being held with the support of the Kiteboard Tour Asia (KTA).

This is the only official Asian continental tour sanctioned by the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA), the kitesurfing world governing body, which in turn is the class representative to the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) which sanctions  international sailing competitions from world championship to Olympic levels.

In the past decade, the sport of kitesurfing has transformed the communities for the better, not just offering employment also opportunities for locals to learn the sport, teach and even manage and run their own kitesurfing operations.

Villages like Kandakuliya and Kudawa have been transformed into vibrant kitesurfing hotspots. With a fair wind, Sri Lanka can lead the world.

Dilsiri Welikala is Sri Lanka’s first local kitesurfing instructors and joint owner of Kitesurfing Lanka and Vayu Mannar 2019 dates include: July 19-22 and 27-30.