The professional kiteboarding circuit is about to kick off a new season with relevant changes in the competition format.
The Global Kitesports Association (GKA) World Tour plans to run 16 events and crown champions in two major disciplines: kitesurfing and freestyle.
The 2020 GKA World Tour is also introducing dingle elimination in both disciplines' competitive format.
This year, riders will no longer compete in qualifying events.
Instead, the new, adapted dingle elimination process features two rounds that will replace the qualifiers.
As a result, the top 16 athletes and two GKA wildcards will be pre-seeded in Round 3, while new and lower-ranked competitors will have to win Round 1 or 2 to compete against the stars.
The format is similar to the one used by the World Surf League (WSL).
The only difference is that the kiteboarder placing third in Round 1 will be immediately out of the event.
So, in addition to the 18 pre-seeded athletes, each event will start with two extra local wildcards plus ten riders.
These ten entries will be chosen by GKA. The selection criteria are based on previous years' rankings, kiteboarding skills, and outstanding riding merits.
The Dingle Elimination Ladder
From a technical perspective, here's how the GKA World Tour dingle elimination format will work:
1. Round 1 will feature three riders;
2. The winner of Round 1 will automatically advance through to Round 3;
3. The second-placed athletes of Round 1 will advance to Round 2;
4. The third-placed riders of Round 1 will be out of competition;
5. The winners of the Round 2 heats will advance through to Round 3;
6. The second-placed athletes of Round 2 will be out of competition;
7. The winners of the Round 3 heats will move immediately to Round 5;
8. The second-placed athletes of Round 3 will have another chance in Round 4;
9. The winners of the Round 4 heats will move to Round 5;
10. The second-placed athletes of Round 4 will be out of competition;
11. After Round 5, the event enters the finals stage;
The Judging Criteria
How will judges score the performances of professional kiteboarders in 2020?
Mallory de la Villemarque, head judge of the GKA kitesurfing judging panel, the commitment will play a critical role in the scoring criteria.
"We want to see riders go critical at the start of the wave and put themselves at risk of falling and wiping out. The take-off moment will be extremely important," underlines De la Villemarque.
"We're expecting riders to take risks and go big from the start, instead of playing it safe and performing low-risk maneuvers."
GKA judges want kitesurfers to show commitment and good wave selection. Whenever possible, athletes should choose the biggest waves of the set.
"We will also look at the technicality of maneuvers, the quality of the aerial moves, the vertical turns in the pocket, and the barrel riding opportunities," adds Mallory de la Villemarque.
"Variety is also a key aspect. We're hoping to see cutbacks, power hacks, tube rides, and innovative airs. The connections between maneuvers and the overall flow will also be important."
Javo Santangelo, head judge of the GKA freestyle judging panel, is looking forward to seeing new things in the water.
"We are always looking for innovation, but we will be taking a close look at the execution, speed in, and speed out, the amplitude, the power, and the smoothness of the land. And of course, perfectly executed double or triple handle passes are welcome," concludes Santangelo.
The GKA has also revealed that it will be crowning male and female youth world champions.
The GKA Youth Kite World Tour will showcase the best young freestyle performers in four divisions: Under 21, Under 19, Under 16, and Under 14.
2020 GKA World Tour | Schedule
Sal, Cape Verde | 29th February - 6th March
Dakhla, Morocco | 1st-6th May
Sylt, Germany | 14-19th August
Hvide Sande, Denmark | 7-12th September
Bel Ombre, Mauritius | 19-27th September
Prea, Brazil | 16-21st November
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil | 30th November - 6th December
Leucate, France, 11th - 16th April 2020
Cabarete, Dominican Republic | 1 - 7th June 2020
Tarifa, Spain | 23 - 28th June 2020
Fuerteventura, Spain | 17-22nd July
Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka | 25-30th August
Bel Ombre, Mauritius | 19-27th September
Diego Suarez, Madagascar | 1-10th October
Cumbuco, Brazil | 23-28th November