Riding new wave with Kite Foil League

Published on June 23rd, 2021

The newly launched Kite Foil League’s California Triple Crown series has three stops along the west coast in 2021, offering events for the best kiters in the country to rip around the race course at over 30 knots. Olympic coach and KFL organizer Willie McBride provides an update:

What are some of your goals for the KFL?
Five or six of us have been working on this project now for the last few months, and I think I’ve gotten to know everyone a lot more during that time, and I think more than anything else, the group is really passionate about the water, and we want to build something that can make our passion infectious.

There is something really incredible – almost magical – about watching a dozen kite racers flying above the water at over 30 knots, on a light air day in Southern California. If the California Triple Crown brings high level kite racing to a bigger audience than would otherwise know about it, we think that people will get stoked and want to get out there themselves.

What stands out about the KFL?
When Quinn Wilson and I were brainstorming what this thing might look like, we rolled around a lot of different ideas that we mostly borrowed from some of the stuff we watch like the World Surf League. We really liked the story telling and the focus on the athletes, but one thing that we realized early on, is that one of the coolest things about kiting as a sport, unlike surfing, is that the more people who do it, the better it gets.

With the WSL, they have these big events with tons of festivities on the beach around the surfing, but at the end of the day, there are only two people in the water at a time, and the rest of the beach is closed off for other surfers. We want to make something that gets people stoked to go do it, but that also lets people compete in their backyards against the top kiters in the world. I think it’s that sense of community that really makes the whole thing so awesome.

What inspired you to create the KFL?
I come from a background in Olympic coaching in sailing, and sometimes the daily grind of training can get monotonous, but the first time I got on the water to coach the Formula Kite sailors was like magic. They go so fast that you really can’t keep up with a coach boat. Even when you see it, it doesn’t seem like it should be possible.

With the rise in popularity and acceptance into the Olympics for 2024, how do you think the sport will change in the next few years?
It’s obviously big news that kites are in the Olympics and it really speaks to the direction that the sport is heading, especially for the new generation of sailors, but honestly, the Kite Foil League is really focused on making this something that goes beyond the Olympic realm.

The accessibility of kiting, and the fact that you can just go off of a beach rather than having to belong to a yacht club, opens the sport up to so many more people.

Most of us working on this project learned how to sail through the traditional junior sailing and yacht club pathways, but we also spent a lot of time in the water outside of sailing – surfing or freediving, and more recently, foiling. One of our big goals is to kind of bust out of the traditional sailing structures to bridge the gap between the yachting racing community and the surfers. We think that kiting has the potential to get a lot of people off of the beach and onto the water.

More information: https://www.kitefoilleague.com/

UPDATE: Evan Heffernan topped the field at the opening event. – Full report

2021 Schedule
June 18-20 – Delta Pro at Sherman Island, CA
July 16-18 – Seabreeze Invitational at Long Beach, CA
August 20-22 – Leadbetter Classic at Santa Barbara, CA

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