International Kiteboarding Association proposes box rule

Markus Schwendtner Executive Secretary of the IKA explains why

Tuesday August 28th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: none selected

The International Kiteboarding Association has made a submission to the ISAF Annual Conference regarding the selection of equipment for the kiteboarding events at the next Olympic Games.

After the decision to include men's and women's Kiteboarding in the Olympic regatta it became clear that further restrictions were required to ensure cheapest entry in this discipline for MNAs while retaining the philosophy of the discipline of kiteboarding and enabling a fair game to all competitors.

The IKA's proposal effectively addressed all these issues,, making equipment even more available especially to emerging nations, as local builders can satisfy the demands of regional sailors and their associations. This is already happeningin for example Thailand and Brazil.

'Formula Kite' is the International Kiteboarding Associations proposal for the equipment to be used in the Olympic Sailing Regatta, the ISAF Sailing World Cups and other ISAF graded events.

Formula Kite is based on the IKA box rule, which allows multiple brands to provide equipment to be used in competition. The main parameters - maximum length and width, minimum weight, and the number of boards and kite to be used during a regatta - are already regulated in the current IKA class rules.

The main advantages of the proposed Formula Kite box rule are:

- Currently all kiteboard racing competition is sailed on box rule equipment, with a global spread
- Sailors of a very wide weight range can compete against each other with equal opportunities, avoiding preference for any part of the world or certain body shape. See a sample chart including weight and size of the worlds top kite racers here.
- The Formula Kite box rule concept allows brands to sponsor sailors and invest in them, further reducing equipment purchase costs to MNAs
- Formula Kite equipment allows slow, but constant evolution of equipment in line with normal wear and tear equipment replacement cycles. Sailors are always able to sail on up-to-date equipment which is challenging to sail and attractive to spectators and media-· Most media friendly equipment sports in the Olympics are based on box rule concepts, such as skiing/snowboarding, cycling, bobsledge, rowing/canoeing, archery/shooting, tennis/badminton

A One Design approach would result in losing top sailors. The Olympics have to be the pinnacle of every sport, with the best athletes taking part. In windsurfing, the PWA (Professional Windsurfers Association, an ISAF special event) events are considered to be the pinnacle of the discipline, and a similar situation must be avoided. In windsurfing, not all the best sailors are participating in the Olympic Games. Only the box rule concept of 'Formula Kite' will achieve this.

PWA and Formula Windsurfing have successfully used a system very similar to 'Formula Kite' for many years, and they have produced top sailors including many from emerging nations on such equipment concept.

Sailors would travel to events with their own equipment - there is no need for event organizers to provide equipment, further reducing their costs.

The proposed changes, as an appendix to the current IKA class rules called 'Formula Kite' can be found here with explanations.

For a breakdown of sample prices of a major brand can be found here, with equipment typically costing US$5190.

The kiteboarding industry, representing manufacturers with a market share in kiteracing of approximately 90%, supports the proposed Formula Kite concept. The proposed concept will keep the industry fully involved.

A box rule concept avoids a monopoly – monopolies are avoided in world economy as they usually provide poor products on high prices. Competition between manufacturers encourages production of quality equipment for sale at affordable prices.

Kiteboarders from around the world have offered their opinions on these proposals:

Bjorn Rune Jensen (DEN, 191cm, 90kg), 2011 Masters World Champion: “I am a normal Danish guy that have an average size of a man in my country 191cm and 90kg, if it will be a one design it will end up like the RSX…( 65-70 kg) there will be an ideal weight for a kiteboarding athlete and I am pretty sure it will not be my size… Today we have the box rules that gives the brand a little space to work with the equipment and this gives it a little twist that one brand can make their kite more powerful and boards with more volume, this is the reason why I still can be competitive in this sport.”

Kathrin Borgwardt (GER, 175cm, 58kg), 2011/2012 Asian Tour Winner: “One Design would stop the development of kiteracing same what happened in Windsurfing before. A box rule for the boards gives the possibility for a slow and constant development for new boards and gives more people to join races, as the boards are to buy in the shops and affordable and cheaper than the One Design.”

Narapichit Pudla (THA, 165cm, 63kg), 2012 Asian Champion: “I prefer for not one design because now many brand develop equipment to make this sport develop and fair for everybody”

John Heineken (USA, 185cm, 80kg), 2011 World Champion: “The box rule allows sailors to chose equipment to fit personal riding style and body type/weight. Sailors can therefore choose equipment appropriate for their body weight allowing more even competition over the entire range of conditions. The box rule promotes industry support of sailors - one design eliminates ALL industry sponsorships which currently
support top competitors. One design would eliminate the link to the kiteboarding world - advertising of gear used by top competitors makes the racing side of the sport look exciting and desirable to the average kiteboarder. A one-design class will guarantee that the higher level of racing will take place on faster equipment in a 'formula windsurfing'-type environment - which is our current box rule. This would create a divide in our fleet and have many of the best sailors not participating on the Olympic class equipment. Creating a one design fleet will be the fastest way to end our current success and create a divide among our sailors. We have a successful formula that with some small tightening up allows for a competitive Olympic class to thrive worldwide.”

Latest Comments

  • Chr1s 11/09/2012 - 09:10

    I know it's too late, but surely kiteboarding should be a demonstration event in Rio. I'm not even sure it should be under ISAF's jurisdiction. But then I expect we had all those arguments about windsurfing however many years ago that was.
  • KingMonkey 29/08/2012 - 17:37

    I'm all for a development class at the Olympics. However, having the representative body of the industry calling on MNAs to give their industry members millions in development cash over the next cycle is fairly rich, and stating that the choices are solely box rule or monopoly is childishly absurd. It will be cool to have kiteboarding at the Olympics, but the IKA would do well to remember how lucky it is to be there and not use this simply as a chance for self promotion. Poor start.
  • bdu98252 28/08/2012 - 14:02

    If I was an athlette wishing to kiteboard in four years in Rio what would I buy to start training? Are these guys serious with one olympic cycle to go still discussing what the equipment looks like. From what I have seen round our way no one is using course racing boards. Do they even know what size kite you can use? Will any of the grade 1 sailing events be running kiteboarding events this year or next?
  • 229264 28/08/2012 - 13:37

    looks like a reason NOT to include kite boarding in the Olympics, not a reason to include a development class... which will be expensive once the Rich MNAs start their development leaving the poorer nations way behind. It's got to be one design

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