Reviewing the Kiteboard Short Track Format

Published on November 23rd, 2014

The ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Nov. 26-30) will bring together an elite list of 16 world class males and four of the fastest females to compete in an open kiteboarding fleet, using an experimental Short Track format. Kiteboarding remains under consideration as an Olympic Summer event, and this format models events used at the Winter Games.

The Open Kiteboard competition will be contested in three stages across the four racing days. Stage 1 will see six fleet races sailed on Thursday 27 November to decide the seeds for Stage 2. The 20 competitors will be divided up for Stage 2 heats on Friday and Saturday based on their seeding from Stage 1. The top ten boats will then progress to the medal stage.

Two semi-finals will be held with five racers in each. Places 1 and 2 will carry forward ten points, 3 and 4 seven points, 5 and 6 five points, 7 and 8 four points and 9 and 10 three points. Two races in each semi-final will follow with the top two placed sailors in each heading to the final.

From there, it’s a four way single race shoot out for the podium spots.

Steph Bridge (GBR), current kiteboard course world champion, is looking forward to the experiment.

“I think that sailors do not like change but with kitesurfing we have such a three dimensional sport that change is part of our ever evolving sport,” observed Bridge. “I came from sailing where we would do a two hour race and get one result whereas now we are banging out 15 minute races and it’s short, sharp and high impact with plenty of races each day.

“In the Sailing World Cup Final this will be even quicker and require slightly different tactics. It’s going to be exciting to see how we all place. We have an open fleet of 16 men and four women and it will be great to push the level and for sure, the testosterone levels will be high.”

Conversely Bryan Lake (USA), the current Slalom world champion from the US, is stridently opposed to Short Track.

“I personally don’t like Short Track Format because it leads to very non-strategic racing. There’s no reason our courses should be shorter than other [sailing] classes. Those classes have longer courses and go way slower. So if the IOC wants to save sailing in the Olympics, for television purposes they should have ‘freestyle’ or slalom racing.”

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