Young Kiter aiming for Youth Olympic Games
Published on December 11th, 2015
Melbourne, Australia (December 11, 2015) – At just 45 kilos wringing wet, 13 year-old kiteboarder Scott Whitehead is still a giant among the big boys at this week’s Sailing World Cup Melbourne being held off the stunning platform of the specially created St Kilda sailing precinct.
The elf of a boy is racing among a fleet of experienced kiteboarders, blasting his way around the course in winds of anywhere between 20 and 30 knots. He’s not in the lead, but he is never far behind. His fellow competitors are alongside, helping him out, including series leader Florian Gruber.
Whitehead has struggled at times in the strong Melbourne conditions, “With the speed, when you are going upwind at 20 knots, when you hit the waves it’s like a ramp on a skateboard. The good guys can push it down with their legs whereas I haven’t got long enough legs.”
The young sailor is sure he wants to represent Australia in the Formula Kite at the third summer Youth Olympic Games which are being held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in October 2018. The Games are open to 15 to 18 year-olds drawn from 206 countries across 28 sports. The other sailing events included in 2018 are Boys Windsurfer (Techno 293), Girls Windsurfer (Techno 293) and Mixed Multihull (Nacra 15).
He has checked out kite foiling, but doesn’t want that to distract him from his goal of getting good at race boards and then travelling around the world to that discipline’s events.
Dad Murray Whitehead is an enthusiastic supporter of his son’s choice, “Scott is extremely keen on kitesurfing; the excitement and the speed. It’s fast, relatively cheap to get into and extremely competitive.”
Scott has been in boats since a baby. He started racing in Flying 11s and then the Laser 4.7. “That got too boring,” he commented. “I was sailing home one day and I saw some guys kiteboarding out on the bay off Townsville and I thought, ‘wow, that looks like fun’. I bugged dad about it for about half a year.” Six months later he is on the water in Melbourne with loaned equipment.
“Josh van Brederode taught me how to kite and gave me my first kite.” Local kiteboard expert Marvin Beaumeister from In the Loop then stepped in, giving Scott a racing kite and lines and a loaning him a “top-end” board so he could compete in Melbourne. He has also secured his home club, Townsville Yacht Club, as a sponsor.
His first event was the Race Board nationals at Townsville in October. “That was a two-day event with some of the best in Australia. I didn’t do too well, but I came second youth.”
Training comprises kiteboarding every afternoon, when there is enough breeze, and swimming several times a week to improve his strength and agility in order to better control his kite.
He has two years to grow up and out with 75 to 80 kilos the preferred weight range. Luckily his dad is tall. “Being flexible also helps and feet like a gecko,” the senior Whitehead said.
Report by Tracey Johnstone
Background: Competition at Sailing World Cup Melbourne on December 9-13 will include 8 of the 10 Olympic events and all 3 Paralympic events. Additionally, several invited classes are included.
The Sailing World Cup is a world-class annual series for Olympic sailing. It is open to the sailing events chosen for the 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition. Its centre piece is the Sailing World Cup Final.
The 2016 Sailing World Cup will consist of five regattas for all ten Olympic events and where possible, Formula Kite Racing. Qualification places for the Sailing World Cup final are up for grabs at each event. The final will bring together the top 20 boats in each Olympic event and an Open Kiteboarding event where the World Cup champions will be crowned.
2016 Sailing World Cup
Melbourne – 7-13 December 2015
Miami – 23-30 January 2016
Hyères – 25 April – 1 May 2016
Weymouth and Portland – 6-12 June 2016
Qingdao – 12-18 September 2016
Final Abu Dhabi – 24-28 October 2016