Kiteboarders eye Tokyo 2020 Olympics

November 22, 2014 | Kiteboarding
Kiteboarding: sailing for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics | Photo: IKA/Travis Hayto

Kiteboarding is opening a new chapter in its route to the Olympic Games. The wind sport will be showcased in the ISAF Sailing World Cup Grand Final 2014, in Abu Dhabi.

A total of 20 male and female course race kiteboarders will compete before a representative of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), looking after a recommendation and inclusion in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The sport failed the 2016 Olympic Games, but the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) has continued to lobby and make presentations to the IOC. The delegates seemed to like the idea of a short track format.

Basically, it involves round-robin heats of five kiteboarders competing against one another. Heats begin with a reaching start at the windward end of the windward-leeward track, with riders completing two downwind and one upwind leg before a reach to the finish near the shoreline.

The planned 350-meter by 350-meter boundary for the track ensures confined racing, in contrast to a key drawback to Formula Kite course racing where riders can be spread out over a large area. Short track heats will be only four to five minutes long.

"In broadcasting terms that makes it much easier as you can have commercial breaks between heats. It sounds funny, or silly. But for the IOC, it's a big issue to make it work for television," explains Markus Schwendtner, CEO at IKA.

"Riders arguing against short track tend to come from a sailing background and are perhaps more conservative. Those who came from freestyle are more open to change and like the fast-paced Short Track. But I think the vast majority is very positive."

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