Kites: they will be flying over Marina de Marseille for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games | Photo: Red Bull

Windsurfing is an Olympic sport since 1984. Surfing is about to join the movement in Tokyo 2020. Get ready to greet kiteboarding in the most important sports event on the planet.

Now that kiteboarding was introduced in the Olympic program for Paris 2024, it's time to correct, improve and fine-tune some of the issues that the sport has been confronted with in the past couple of decades.

Is it a sailing sport? What are the "official" disciplines within the sport? Shall it be ruled under World Sailing or any other governing body?

The responsibility is great. Millions of people will have the chance to discover kiteboarding when foilboards and kites make their debut at Marina de Marseille, in 2024.

So, what are the most significant challenges? What lies ahead of kites before the Summer Olympics? What could be done to improve its reputation as a thrilling and inclusive water sport?

Negotiate a Long-Term Agreement Between Potential Governing Bodies

Kiteboarding is a sport ruled under the World Sailing umbrella, via International Kiteboarding Association (IKA), and Global Kitesports Association (GKA).

However, the International Federation of Kitesports Organizations (IFKO) says that the world governing body for the sport of sailing has no legitimacy to manage kiteboarding.

The war between both organizations broke out in 2015, and since then, there have only been mutual accusations. One thing is sure: the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will not tolerate these public altercations for much longer.

Freestyle kiteboarding: one of the most popular kite disciplines | Photo: Red Bull

Stabilize the Competitive Disciplines

One of the main problems with kiteboarding has always been the number of disciplines within the sport.

Because it can be practiced in and out of the water, with too many types of gear, it led to a complicated web of bureaucratic rules and divisions.

Today, it is clear that freestyle, wave, slalom, big air, and probably speed are kiteboarding's most popular disciplines. It's critical that all these types of riding get under one single unified entity that uniformizes the different world tours.

Increase the Safety Levels in the Foiling Era

Kiteboarding has been steadily improving the safety of its equipment, but the introduction of hydrofoils raises a lot of questions and concerns.

The safety of Olympic athletes should never be at stake, and manufacturers must focus their efforts on keeping foiling systems safe in case of collisions or wipeouts.

Confirm Its High Performances in Low Winds

One of the reasons why kiteboarding has not yet made it to the Olympic Games is due to its classic problems with low wind conditions. Unlike windsurfing sails, kite sails need minimum wind speeds to start flying.

The good news is that foil kites in the 15-to-19-meter range perform really well in marginal winds, and therefore will ensure races can be run in light breezes.

Kiteboarding: an expensive water sport | Photo: Red Bull

Lower the Entry Costs

Kiteboarding still is an expensive sport, and with the advent of foiling it is becoming harder to buy new equipment. If the sport aims to attract a younger audience, the industry needs to address this problem.

You can get into surfing for less than $500, but you won't be ready to fly a kite for less than $1,500. The IOC wants sports that can be enjoyed by millions; they won't promote activities for the elite.

Conquer the Hearts of Surfers and Windsurfers

Kiteboarding combines characteristics of surfing and windsurfing, but it rarely attracts participants from both water sports. Getting neighbors to fly a kite could help propel the sport into the mainstream, and increase the number of people who surf, windsurf and ride a kite on a regular basis.

Extend the Popularity of Key Events to a Mainstream Audience

Many people know or have heard about the Pipeline Masters surf contest, but few people watched riders of the Kitesurfing Armada breaking Guinness world records, or athletes getting airborne at the Red Bull King of the Air.

Kiteboarding needs more media-hyped events that help the sport reach a global audience.

Brad Spencer, Annissa Flynn, and Daniel Tarapchak have taken out the 2018 World Flowboarding Championships, in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

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