Testing an early kiteboat prototype, 2004

The Kiteboat Project has existed in some form since 1997, when Don Montague first began attaching kites to boats. Between 1997 and 2006, Don worked with a team in Hawaii to develop kites for use with surfing canoes, small catamarans, and large motored cats; their accomplishments included wave-riding and several island crossings. Between 2006 and 2008, Don worked on modifying and testing the Trifoiler and Quadfoiler test platforms through Makani Power, a Bay Area wind power company that he co-founded in the fall of 2006. The current team began to take shape in late 2008, when the Kiteboat Project acquired funding from the Marine Science Technology Foundation and moved to its own workshop in Alameda. We have since secured other funding and have put together a team of marine architects, sailors, and software developers dedicated to realizing the Kiteboat vision through building and testing the first platform of its kind built specifically for kites.

Evolution of kite control systems

Our objective is to evolve waterborne transportation to use kites as propulsion. To date, kite propulsion has primarily been used for kitesurfing and in single-person traction kiting. In small-scale kiting, the force of the kite can be controlled by an individual holding on to the kite directly, but as the kite gets larger, harnessing its power becomes more difficult. The challenge is to develop winches, controls, and launch and recovery systems for larger kites, boat-specific kites for different conditions, and kite-specific boats and foil systems. Our mission is to design a purpose-built vessel that is specifically designed to harness kite power and to advance kite design and kite controls to the point that kiteboats could compete with and out-perform sailboats in a long-distance forum.