Bringing the beach to Paris 2024
Published on October 16th, 2019
The inaugural ANOC World Beach Games gave a tease of the future as 97 countries came together to compete in 13 sports, highlighting non-Olympic events different from the Tokyo 2020 program. With Sailing among the sports, Formula Kitefoil was the event on display October 13-16, in Doha, Qatar.
Kiteboarding will make its Olympic debut at the Paris 2024 Games as one of ten Sailing events in the program, and with riders and kiteboards reaching speeds toward 40 knots on the water, the sport will immediately become the fastest Olympic sailing discipline.
“For the Olympic classes, we’re the fastest discipline, but there’s definitely other sailboats out there that are quicker,” said U.S. kitefoil racer Evan Heffernan, who missed out on the men’s medal round at the Beach Games.
“If you look at the America’s Cup and Sail GP they are doing 40 knots sustained, but Daniela had a chance to go up against one of them in San Francisco and found out that she is pretty even with them.”
Daniela is fellow American Daniela Moroz who convincingly won gold in the women’s kitefoil racing final at the Beach Games.
“Those boats are worth millions of dollars and my set-up is a few thousand, maybe five-thousand tops and I can match their speed,” Moroz said with big smile.
“The coolest part is that it is the cheapest and easiest sailing discipline to pick up,” Heffernan said. “If you come from a youth sailing program or surfing background, you can easily learn how to kite and get into this discipline.”
The competition format for Paris 2024 will be a two-person mixed gender relay. Olympic kiteboarding will be contested off the coast of Marseille.
“It’s huge for the sport – it will be really exciting to see kites at the Olympics,” Moroz said. “It’s going to be really good for the sport of kiting, really good for sailing and the spectators are going to love it.
“We’re just pushing boundaries and we’re loving what we’re doing.”
Heffernan, 21, said he believes that kiteboarding will appeal to the youth demographic that the Olympic Movement is seeking, while also creating renewed interest in sailing.
“In sailing in the past, they’ve really struggled on the media side and with viewership, so having something that is cutting edge and interesting to watch hopefully, is what we’re going for and something that is cool and fan friendly,” Heffernan said.
However, Heffernan admitted that athletes in the sport will become more serious with more at stake and potential new sponsors considering its newfound Olympic status.
“It will become more competitive focused, like you saw with surfing – Kelly Slater and some of the top guys were the first to really get into the training, Physio, and mental part of the performance,” Heffernan predicted.
Moroz already has high hopes looking down the road to kiteboarding becoming Olympic.
“It’s the biggest goal – I want the gold medal.”
Source: Around the Rings