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Kitetender blends sailing and kitesurfing


March 23, 2014

The Kitetender 400 is a one to two person monohull water vessel, featuring a sports kite

The Kitetender 400 is a one to two person monohull water vessel, featuring a sports kite

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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.

    Kitetender 400 Specifications:
  • Length: 4.00 m (13 ft)
  • Width: 1.20 m (3.94 ft)
  • Weight: 75 kg (165 lb)
  • Material: Fiberglass
  • Kite: North Kite DYNO from 7 sqm – 17 sqm (75 sq.ft - 183 sq.ft)
  • Bar: 5th line system
  • Persons: 1 or 2
  • 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.

    Source: Kitetender and Peter Schermer

    About the Author
    Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

    The first commercial inflated wing for use on the water was sold with an inflatable catamaran by Bruno Legaignoux and Dominique Legaignoux back in the 80's.

    Michael Crumpton

    It will need to have a sail or outboard option if it is going be successful.

    You can always have fun with a kite, no matter which way the wind is blowing. With this setup, if there are onshore wind conditions, then you might as well go and have a cup of tea, or go home.

    Mel Tisdale

    The idea is fine but the price... how much for a kite and accessories? Attach the kite to a surfboard (millions lying around doing nothing) like these guys did with the boat, steer by controlling the direction with your feet and tilt with your body while you sit. The kite you manage by hand. At least you save on the call for someone to sail with because you can do this by yourself. €5,299? No way.


    Difference between this and sailing is this looks alot more strenuous, aswell as looks like a pain if kite comes down into the water, to get it lifted again, but im not familiar with how they get it up in the first place maby its not a problem.

    I think it looks like fun though, and price really isnt that bad. I wonder how efficient it would be just being used to get from one place to another, I guess it would be hard to use unless you really had a good wind.

    Nathaneal Blemings

    @ Mel Tisdale Judging from my experience with stunt kites the boat can sail into the wind at least as well as a square rigger.


    Hi all,

    The Kitetender is a boat, not a board or a catamaran. Can sail upwind & downwind and it is meant to take it anywhere, easily. Onshore winds not a problem, off shore neither. Have some paddles in the Kitetender 400 on board. The Kitetender 650 has a 2 hp outboard.

    If the kite crashes on the water, it is very simple to restart it.

    check the video's at youtube Kitetender.

    Thanks for your attention and remarks, cheers Peter Renssen


    I applaud the KiteTender crew! Readers without kiteboarding and sailing experience might see it as an expensive novelty, but it isn't. 1. Learning to fly a kite on the water is difficult at best. The common method involves the student "body dragging" while the instructor shadows them. This requires either shallow water or the instructor riding a Jet ski. The KiteTender would allow the teacher and student to be next to one another. Additionally, body dragging doesn't prepare the student for the increased speed once their board is on plane. Body dragging upwind is a skill all kiteboarders need, but I think it would be easier to learn once you understand how the kite behaves in the water. 2. Kiteboarding in the winter means a transition through several wetsuits and eventually a dry suit. For those of us who only have lakes to ride in, it also means always riding with someone else. You don't want to have hypothermia alone. The KiteTender would extend my season by nearly 3 months. 3. Kiteboarding can be brutal on your body. I am currently healing from a crash that damaged my sacrum and pelvis. The boat would take pressure off my lower body and allow me to kite when I'm injured and keep me kiting once I am too old to ride a board. 4. Inland wind is unpredictable. Having a vehicle that can drive into the center of a lake where the wind is unobstructed would be fantastic. Having an outboard when the wind dies would be even better. 5. Lake kiteboarding often requires launching from a boat. This means leaving someone on board. Why not kite right along with the board riders? I see it as the pickup truck in a group of motorcycle riders. 6. Kiteboarding can be a solitary sport that keeps you from your frounds and family. A KiteTender would allow me to share my passion with those I love. That may be the best reason to have a kite boat.

    Michael Hartleroad
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