IKA says Richard Branson can't crown world champions

July 20, 2015 | Kiteboarding
Virgin Kitesurf World Championships: stop it, say IKA | Photo: VKWC

The International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) has decided to cancel all agreements with the Virgin Kitesurf World Championships (VKWC).

The governing body for the sport of kiteboarding will no longer allow the Freestyle World Tour to be run under the organization led by Richard Branson.

IKA intends to oversee the running of the forthcoming two confirmed events in Fuerteventura, Spain, and St Peter Ording, Germany. The decision puts an end to months of negotiations between both parties.

Kiteboarding brands like North Kiteboarding and Naish don't agree with the fact that the sole Freestyle World Tour is so closely linked with Best Kiteboarding, a brand in which Javier Perez Dolset has made investments. The Spanish businessman has also partnered with Richard Branson to control the VKWC.

"A new contract would have enhanced fairness, transparency and independent judging for riders, with the aim avoiding conflicts between the tour owners, brands, judges and riders," said Markus Schwendtner, CEO at IKA.

"Additionally, the new contract would have required improvements to the newly introduced PKRA [VKWC] scoring and qualification systems, which the IKA is aware have created significant dissatisfaction amongst riders."

The IKA is sanctioned to award world championship titles by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) within its rules, under the umbrella of the International Olympic Committee.

The riders' standings from the three competitions so far will be recognised, even if a decision is ultimately taken to change the judging criteria. And there will be qualifying rounds for each event, rather than the just two qualification slots announced by the VKWC.

The VKWC confirmed that the parties were unable to reach an agreement. However, the organization led by Richard Branson underlines that "we will now deal direct with ISAF in good faith in the best interests of the sport, its riders, our commercial partners and our supporters."

"The Global Kitesports Association, representing the majority of the Industry supporting the professional riders on the tour 2015, has expressed its full support to VKWC."

The VKWC confirms that "new public events at great kitesurf locations producing thrilling media content are part of the development plans to change the way kiteboarding is recognized globally."