In 1998, a local windsurfer was tired of hauling all his heavy gear down to the beach. By the time he loaded everything up and drove down, the flags were barely flapping. Day in and day out, the disappointment was always the same, until he heard about a new watersport where kites were used and a lot less wind was needed. The windsurfer headed down to the Orlando Surf Expo where he met Lou Wainman and Elliot Leboe who were then repping for a new company called Wipika. A few days later, the windsurfer headed back to Fort Walton Beach a kitesurfer. He packed up the windsurfer, sold the Hobie, and XLKITES was born.
Since those early days a lot has changed in kiteboarding, but Michael Percy has never lost the passion he found in the sport. He and the staff of instructors at XLKITES are dedicated to getting you riding and getting you riding better. From your first minutes on a trainer kite to those amazing few seconds of your first ride, the crew at XLKITES will be there making sure you're learning safe, effective techniques. And we're pretty sure you'll be having fun while you're doing it...
If you're already riding that's great! Give us a call and we'll meet you out at the beach or at our store. With a great core group of local riders, you'll find yourself with them down at Los Panchos sooner than you think. With the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and the white sand beaches of Okaloosa Island as your backdrop, there are no bad days. Bring the family down, there's plenty to do between Pensacola and Panama City. Shopping in Destin, the Gulfarium on the Island...did we mention the beach? Riding goes on here all year round. Winters do bring cooler temperatures but the north fronts rolling through more than make up with wind what they take from the heat index.
XLKITES is unmatched in experience and expertise when it comes to kiteboarding, and if the last 8 years have been any indication, the sport is only going to continue to grow. Let us know if there's something you're looking for that you don't see on our site, or feel free to call us if you've got any questions. We truly appreciate all of the customers that have supported us over the years, and we look forward to seeing you on the water!
Directions to the Store
The store's address is:
42 Miracle Strip Parkway,
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548
Welcome to XLKITES. We have been in kiteboarding since the beginning. We can help you sort through the hype and get you on the gear that will get you riding the fastest and easiest. Kiteboarding has come a long way, but doesn't need to be complicated. We are experts in Cabrinha, Flexifoil, Globe Kites, Slingshot, Best, North, Ocean Rodeo, and Liquid Force. We know harnesses like the Ocean Rodeo Session or the new Mystic Waist harnesses, as well as a full line of Dakine and Cabrinha harnesses. We also are dry-suit experts, don't let the cold weather hold you back when the wind is blowing get out and get wet! We have all the new kites and boards in-stock and carry one of the largest inventories in the nation.
What do you need to kiteboard?
All you need for kiteboarding is a complete kite, a complete board, and a harness. Complete kite means it includes the kite, control bar, lines, pump, a bag to carry it all, and little accessories like an owner's manual and a repair kit. Complete board means it includes fins, footstraps, footpads, and a grab handle.
Sometimes you see kites priced as "kite only" in case you already have a control bar and lines. It is usually best to buy a kite complete with the manufacturer's recommended control bar. This makes sure that the bar is the right size and that all of the Kite safety features built into the bar and kite will work properly together. Another reason is simply for convenience. It is nice to have a bar for each kite you own so you don't have to disconnect a bar from one kite to hook it to another. With a couple simple tricks, you can leave your bar and lines connected to your kite to make setup quicker and maximize your riding time.
What accessories do you need?
A floatation vest is highly recommended for comfort and safety. Floatation helps you when you are getting started in the water, getting going again after crashing, or taking a rest to adjust anything. It beats having to tread water while trying to relaunch your kite. A float vest also gives impact protection when you crash hard. Some thinner more streamlined vests are called impact vests. They are thinner and more form fitting than floatation vests or life jackets but give less floatation and ironically less impact protection. A helmet is another highly recommended accessory that can save your life or at least reduce your head injuries if you hit your head on a hard object. A board leash can be a convenience but can also add risk of the board hitting you as it tags along right behind you during a crash. A leash is not really necessary, because with proper bodydragging technique, you can drag yourself upwind to retrieve your board. A windmeter is a useful tool to prevent putting up your kite in more wind than you can safely handle. There are expensive electronic ones on the market, but we prefer simple $20 ones because they work just as well, don't need batteries, and are the most durable.
What types of kites are used for kiteboarding?
The 4-line inflatable kite has been the standard for several years now. Kiteboarding started with two-line inflatable kites which could be converted to 4-line, and then dedicated 4-line kites became the standard. 5-line kites are just a 4-line kite with an extra line to help relaunching. A 5th line can be added to any kite. Some kites have special design features which let the kite relaunch well without the addition of an extra line.
Fact vs. Fiction
Q: Can you go upwind? A: Yes we can. You will too after a bit of practice. Once your riding progresses to the point where you can smoothly ride across the water without losing your edge and slipping sideways, all it takes is having enough kite power and a big enough board. A common mistake is trying to ride a wakeboard.
Q: Can I use a wakeboard? A: A wakeboard will ride fine for an experienced rider, but is too small to learn on and just won't go upwind well. For learning, you really need a bigger board. Besides being easier to learn on, you will need a bigger board for light wind no matter how experienced you become. So you never outgrow a bigger board.
Q: How much wind do you need? A: 10mph is enough to ride and do little jumps. With experience, you can ride in a little less wind, but it is easier and more fun with better winds. Twelve to twenty is ideal. With a high-performance light-wind kite and big board you can still stay upwind and cruise in about 8mph. 6 mph is probably the lightest possible wind to ride in. Any less than that and kites just fall out of the sky.
Q: How much does it cost? A: With our package deals, you can get a complete top-quality kite and board setup for under $1200. The most you can spend for the newest, highest performance gear is $2400.
Q: What does "complete" kite mean? A: It means the kite plus the control bar and lines, pump, bag, and repair kit. Some places try to give the impression of low prices by advertising the 'kite only' price, and make you buy everything else you need separately.
Q: And what makes a board 'complete'? A: A complete board includes footpads, footstraps, fins, and grab handle.