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Is Kiteboarding About to Have a Food Fight?

Published on April 20th, 2017

While it is universally agreed that World Sailing is the world governing body for the sport of sailing, and that kiteboarding is sailing, World Sailing’s position continues to be challenged.

World Sailing has the credentials. The organization is recognized and endorsed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Associations of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) and Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF; previously SportAccord).

These are the power brokers in sport, and for all forms of kiteboarding on the water, World Sailing has their blessings.

For the administration of kiteboarding, World Sailing has partnered with the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) for course racing and the Global Kitesports Association (GKA) for expression events (ie, Wave, Freestyle, Big Air, etc). Amid the Appendices in the Racing Rules of Sailing are the Kiteboarding rules.

But IFKO (International Federation of Kitesports Organization) doesn’t see kiting as a part of sailing, but as its own unique sport, and has recently been invited by the GAISF President Patrick Baumann (also ASOIF Council Member) to submit a membership application for their organization. If confirmed as a member of GAISF, that gives IFKO a seat at the lunch table.

“Sport Governing Bodies are Sport International Federations, like ISA (Surfing), IFKO (Kitesports), UIM (Powerboating), etc., and, therefore, these are the only kind of sport organisations able to achieve SportAccord full-membership and Olympic recognition,” said IFKO President Diogo Fernandes. “Through IFKO, Kitesports are moving now to the next level of real Sport maturity.

“Kitesports are considered a Sport if within its own International Federation. Kitesurfing cannot be a discipline of other Sport and, by right, IFKO united all the Kitesports disciplines of Kitesurfing, Landkiting and Snowkiting in the same global platform to be used by all Kite community.

“Increasing Sport credibility for Kitesports, will bring success to all Kite stakeholders: more and better sponsors, more sanctioned events, more organisation, promotion and development to the sport. This leads to sustainable and better carriers of athletes, instructors, coaches and judges. Step by step it has been IFKO´s mission.

“Like for any other Sport, united Kitesports is the best future. IFKO is the future.”

Conflict between World Sailing and IFKO has history. Missives in 2016 warned of IFKO events that were in violation of the regulations World Sailing was empowered to uphold. For the sailors, participation in such events would lead to lost eligibility in World Sailing events.

It is a relatively significant ‘if’ with regard to IFKO fulfilling the membership requirements of GAISF, but if they are allowed to join World Sailing at the lunch table, all we can think of is that scene from Animal House when John Belushi screams, “Food fight!”

• IFKO is a non-for-profit federation made of volunteer riders based in Portugal.
• GAISF (previously SportAccord) is the umbrella organization for all (Olympic and non-Olympic) international sports federations as well as organizers of multi-sports games and sport-related international associations.
• ASOIF is the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations.

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