Olympic Prospects Pondered at Formula Kite Worlds
Published on September 13th, 2016
Weifang Binhai, China (September 13, 2016) – Light breezes tantalised racers at the Formula Kite (foil) World Championship for a second straight day, but remained stubbornly insufficient to get off any races in the women’s or men’s “gold” and “silver” fleets.
In the absence of action, the 60 riders from 19 countries were briefed on the status of kiting’s bid for a slot in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and voiced concerns over some possible strategies apparently unfolding.
Markus Schwendtner, International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) CEO, outlined the possible pathway to an Olympics berth and the potential pitfalls that could lie in the way.
Key among the elite racers’ fears is that the Neil Pryde group — Cabrinha’s parent company — is attempting to establish a “one design” CR:X class with its convertible low performance foil and twin-tip board, and tube kite, in the hope of establishing a “class” and offering if for Olympics inclusion.
Riders were told that in line with their wishes, the IKA’s favoured option is to hold a “beauty contest” of leading high-performance hydrofoils and kites, choosing one of each eligible for mass production two-and-a-half years out from the Olympics as a one design model to be used in the Olympic Games and it’s qualifier events, so all athletes could train and compete on the same equipment while keeping the costs low for the Member National Authorities (MNA) of World Sailing.
Outside the Olympic pathway events, development of foils and kites would continue apace as normal to ensure equipment keeps going forward and does not become quickly dated and outmoded.
If kiting jumped the hurdles, any equipment could ultimately be chosen by the equipment and events committees of World Sailing (WS), kiting’s governing body under the International Olympic Committee (IOC), possibly in May next year.
But first comes the thorny issue of inclusion. WS is under pressure from the IOC to include kiting in its line-up (and to achieve gender equality), but is not able to increase the current number of 10 events available, which means that some creative work needs to be done with regard to the events of the 2016 Games to get kiting into the Olympics.
WS is due to discuss its plans for the medals line-up at its annual conference in Barcelona in November, which will give a strong indication as to kiting’s prospects. A final decision will be taken at a WS special assembly in February by MNA delegates. A decision to include kiting would then have to be agreed by the IOC in June.
Most of the racers are extremely keen to see kiting win an Olympics slot, and were comfortable with the plan outlined. But they were anxious to get the message out that concerned kiters needed to push and educate their own country’s MNA delegates on the kiting’s merits, and stressed the desirability for IKA to launch its own sophisticated media and PR drive to ensure success.
Similarly, the brands represented, Flysurfer and particularly Ozone, were alarmed at the prospect of one company cornering the Olympic market.
Neil Pryde has IOC connections as the maker of windsurfing’s RS:X class, and industry rivals and riders alike fear it could use their new CR:X one design hybrid class as a bridgehead to be chosen for the 2020 Games.
Racing for at the Formula Kite (foil) World Championship is planned for September 10 to 15 on the butter-flat waters off eastern China.
MEN Overall standings after five races (one discard):
1. Nico Parlier (FRA, Ozone/Mike’s Lab) — 4pts
2. Riccardo Leccese (ITA, Ozone/Mike’s Lab) — 5pts
3. Maxime Nocher (MON, F-One/Banga) — 8pts
WOMEN Overall standings after five races (one discard):
1. Daniela Moroz (USA, Ozone/Mike’s Lab) — 4pts
2. Elena Kalinina (RUS, Elf/Banga) — 8pts
3. Steph Bridge (GBR, Flysurfer/Levitaz) —16pts