Hopeful kite racers aiming for medals at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games are currently embroiled in battle in Austria at the Formula Mixed Relay Europeans – racing under the official Olympic racing format structure. Just ahead of an exciting weekend climax, here’s how it works and why this is a much improved format for audience enjoyment:
MIXED RELAY EUROPEANS – ROUND-UP
Since only one 2024 Olympic medal was available for kiteboarding, the Mixed Team Relay configuration was chosen, deemed more exciting and fair than racing women and men separately and adding the points.
The Mixed Relay Europeans is using the Olympic format and is running in Austria this week. Markus Schwendtner, IKA Secretary General, explains more about the relay format here:
“Since we can not pass a baton like in running, we have used swimming relay as the basis for our format. So when one competitor crosses the ‘changeover line,’ finishing their lap, their teammate begins their lap by crossing the same line simultaneously. The position during the changeover is not counted, but the final position at the finish line determines the placing for the team as a whole, bringing in an element of strategy. In addition, since the riders have closing speeds close to 100km/h, the timing is critical for the changeover, providing some spectacular racing.”
More info from the coaches and riders themselves in Austria:
Markus continues: “There has also been a lot of consideration in designing the racing and scoring format, to come up with a fair racing scheme that satisfies the media driven desire for a ‘first across the line wins’ overall. To that end, we have the opening series, after which, the two top placed teams overall go straight to the Finals. The subsequent 12 teams then progress to the semi finals, with 6 in each fleet. Although the points are reset after qualifying, in order to acknowledge the teams’ performance in opening races, these teams start with the number of points equal to their position as they enter the semi finals. This is done to condense the fleet while rewarding those who performed well during the opening series. Doing away with large point disparities makes the racing close across the 2 races we have in the semi finals. This way, all teams who make it to the semi finals, have a chance to make the finals and win the event.
“Immediately after the semi finalists have each completed 2 races using the standard low point system, the winner of each of those fleets then progresses to the finals.
“The semi finals and finals all happen on one day, typically called “Super Sunday,” with the idea being that if there are 14 teams racing on the final day, audience interest comes from 14 nations, as opposed to having the finals raced separately where only 4 nations are represented, greatly reducing the media attention. The medal series is scored in a different way in order to achieve this ‘first over the line’ concept. We have devised a first-to-three, ‘match point’ system, similar to tennis, where the team that qualified 1st for the finals begins the finals with 2 points, the 2nd placed team starts with 1 point, and the two teams who come from the semi finals start with 0. Since it is first-to-three, the 1st place team need only win the first finals race to win overall, the 2nd place team must win 2 races etc. “This ensures that the overall winner of the event is the team that wins the last race, making it more attractive for spectators, while rewarding those teams that did well throughout the whole event. We have used this system a few times with great success and are fine tuning the concept as we move forward, listening to feedback from competitors and other participants. ”Although radically different from the double-points medal race format of recent years, this new format has been widely praised by competitors, teams and media alike, and presents the kiteboard racing in an exciting new way that will generate maximum interest for our sport from the general public, securing the future of sailing and riding for years to come.”
Racing continues with the opening series through to Saturday, and the semi-finals and medal series scheduled for “Super Sunday”.
Top 5 teams after 7 races (2 discards)
1 GER 10 Gruber / Meyer5 pts
2 GBR 14 Bainbridge / Aldridge 6 pts
3 GBR 22 Bridge / Dabson 6 pts
4 POL 21 Wojciechowski / Woyciechowska 7 pts
5 FRA 12 Nocher / Nolot 8 pts