Good posts both JST and edt. Wakestyle reminds me of the phase of skateboarding when it became all super technical flippety spinny flat land tricks. Remarkably skilled trickery but the average viewer's interest, skater or not, lasts about 1 minute. Unless you can appreciate the finer skills involved, it's boring to watch. Same thing here, after years of fast forwarding videos through the spinny bits to the next wave or big air segment, now seems like they rarely even include wakestyle any more. But as you say starsky, it then goes underground, with a hardcore group that keep on doing it, refining it, discovering new and better ways, and maybe it'll re-emerge into something so much better. Like the rebirth of skating, where those flippy flat land tricks started to get done at full speed on real world terrain obstacles, and street style now defines radical skateboarding and there's a terrain park in pretty much every town and city.
Dunno. Will be interesting to see what happens with kiting. Feels to me like it's faded a lot in the past few years (though hard to say how much of this is my own arc, leaving the honeymoon period behind). Maui in Dec was sure noticable the lack of young people doing tricks. Average age was 40s. Lots of foilers and cruisers and surfers (me too). Barely anyone boosting. This forum has also become more "mature" ... hate to say boring, but not as fun as it was in the MOST SEXY days. Your phase explanation makes a lot of sense.
So equate it to surfing, which has had a number of boom/bust cycles, from mainstream to underground, and now seems more popular than ever. Surfing has also had its dead-end niches, where a certain style of riding and gear by the pros was not attainable or fun for the masses. That plus shitty boring contests in terrible conditions nearly killed pro surfing. Making surfing exciting to watch again revived it. But also a perception change in the masses. The transition from scumbag water rats living in vans by the beach to CEOs of multinationals surfing before work ... how did that happen? Is it just a generational thing, that 50 years later the question is no longer "why would you want to surf" but "if you have the opportunity, why WOULDN'T you?" Maybe kiting is similar, still a very young sport.