Knowing a little about a lot

Published on February 11th, 2021

It’s our goal at Scuttlebutt HQ to know a little about a lot, and to know as much as possible about what’s most pressing. However, as the sport expands to new genres, our head does occasionally explode.

Case in point is the Global Kitesports Association (GKA) which seeks to support and promote the interests of all professional kite riders. The organization is under the World Sailing umbrella, which looks after the entire sport of sailing, so we try to know a little about the GKA.

For this lesson, we are dragging you along too.

The GKA has three world tours running for 2021: the Kite-Surf Tour which involves wave kitesurfing and strapless freestyle, the Freestyle Tour which involves twin tip freestyle kiteboarding and big air, and the Hydrofoil-Freestyle Tour.

Here’s the GKA describing how each tour is managed:

Kite-Surf:
Our intention is to showcase all that kitesurfing with a surfboard has to offer by taking advantage of the conditions we are given. On the kitesurf world tour, when there are perfect waves, we’ll run a pure wave competition with points awarded for ultimate kitesurfing wave riding, flow and style.

If there are not great waves, we’ll do a mix of Strapless freestyle and surfing with the winner showcasing skill in both areas. If it’s entirely flat surf, we’ll run a pure strapless freestyle competition. This format remains the same as it has since 2015 and focuses on taking advantage of the conditions.

Freestyle:
On the twintip freestyle discipline tour, the format will be dictated by the wind speed. We’ll maximize the conditions by incorporating Big Air into the competition when wind speeds are greater than 30 knots (as a general guideline). For example, we expect strong wind in Tarifa. If on the day of the competition, we have 50 knots, we’ll run a pure big air format. This allows us to get back to the roots of kiteboarding and demonstrate the hugely impressive skill sets of the riders.

But if conditions give us around 20 knots of wind, we’ll do just pure freestyle with handle-passes and stylish grabs. If, for example, wind conditions deliver 28-30 knots, we might run both big air and freestyle in order to crown an event champion.

As a general rule, whenever the conditions give us strong wind, we’ll add big air. This format allows the GKA to adapt to the conditions to put on the best possible contest. Riders must be versatile and multi-disciplined. Over the years, we’ve seen riders training hard in Big Air and we’re expecting good results in 2021!

Hydrofoil-Freestyle:
Hydrofoil-Freestyle is the most recent discipline added to the tour. The GKA tested the format in Brazil in 2020 with the Superfoil event and it proved to be very successful. Hydrofoils allow riders to put on an amazing show even in the lightest conditions when it would be impossible to compete in other disciplines.

The hydrofoil allows competitors to jump 10-15m high even at winds as low as 10-12 knots. This allows the GKA to hold competitions in new destinations that would otherwise be impossible to compete at.

The competition format for the hydrofoil tour consists of showcasing all types of freestyle that can be done on a hydrofoil with a kite. From strapless hydrofoil riding to handle passes, loops or the biggest board-offs. It’s all about freestyle and the competition format will evolve over the years. This is just the beginning of a discipline with lots of potential!

For more about the 2021 competition formats, click here.

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