The speculation is drawing to a close as more details come to light about the future of Olympic kiteboarding
The speculation over kiting’s Olympic future is now over after World Sailing’s announcement this week. From 2024, kiting in the form of kite foil racing will be a permanent Olympic discipline after it debuts at the Olympic Games in Paris that year.
It is understood that a ‘box rule’ will be put in place to determine what equipment competitors can use and racers will be allowed to register one hydrofoil and up to four ram-air foil kites for use at the games.
Both men and women will be able to use kites from 7 to 21 metres and will race in anything from five to 40 knots, which has been deemed the suitable wind range for competition. These parameters have been set based off the bodyweight of the current ten top ranked men and women in the Formula Kite World Series with male competitors ranging between 65 and 85 kg and women anywhere between 50 and 70kg.
The equipment that racers can register will be decided upon by World Sailing every three years rather than all competitors being bound to a ‘one design’ system in which they would have to race on identical equipment made by one manufacturer.
Instead, providing they stick within the guidelines, riders will be able to fine-tune their quiver to suit their riding style, bodyweight and personal preferences just as they’re allowed to in other Olympic sports like snowboarding and skiing.
This means that every three years any gear manufacturer will have the opportunity to register their equipment to be used at the Olympics and riders won’t be able engage in an arms race by using the latest, fastest equipment to get the competition edge over their fellow competitors. In fact, the rules state that single every piece of equipment that sees action at Games will have to be available on general sale to the public to ensure a truly level playing field. Winning at the Olympics will be about being the fastest racer, not the best equipped racer!
It’s not yet totally clear what the racing format will be, but a Short Track Relay on a short windward / leeward course, with team members (male and female) covering alternating laps with a changeover zone has been suggested among a number of other options. Competition may also consist of an opening series of heats and a knockout stage or other form of final in which the winner of that last race wins the event.
It’s expected that races will last in the region of 10 minutes for 3-4 laps of the course and this would be the first time a relay format of this type has appeared in any Olympic sailing discipline. It would no doubt be an engaging one to watch and the hope of World Sailing and the International Olympic Committee is that the massive wind range that foil racers are able to compete in will guarantee some spectacular racing for television audiences around the world!