Should foil kites be banned from professional competitions?

October 31, 2014 | Kiteboarding
Foil kites: controversy flies high | Photo: Team Bridge

The International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) is studying the ban of foil kites.

The world governing body for the sport of kiteboarding is analyzing whether it will keep foil kites in the competitive scene, due to safety concerns. The issue will be debated during IKA's general meeting scheduled for November 4th.

The majority of Formula Kite riders using Leading-Edge Inflatable (LEI) kites are being overthrown by the most efficient of the power kites, that is, the foil system.

The expense and lack of availability of foil kites has been pointed out as the main reason for the reduced number of participants in the latest Formula Kite World Championships, as well as in the 2014 African and European competitions.

The Polish Kiteboarding Association (PKA) believes that the foil kites pose a grave risk to riders because of the lack of buoyancy - unlike tube kites - when in the water.

"If the present foil kites drop in the water, they're simply not visible and they may drag the rider into the water on the high seas. Tomek Janiak has almost drowned in rough sea. He said it was the most dangerous experience he'd ever had," reveals Marek Rowinski, president of the PKA.

Ozone, one of the few producers of foil kites, has a different opinion. "Two to three years ago, Markus [Schwendtner, Executive Secretary at IKA] was always telling us to 'design better kites so we could race in lighter winds',"underlines Matt Taggart, manager of Ozone Kites.

"Well, Roman [Luibimtsev] and Elf led the way, and now [we] at Ozone put in the hard work with investment to find a way. We did what the IKA told us to do, and now the talk is about banning foil kites!"

Reigning world champion Steph Bridge has already showed her support to foil kites and considers a step backwards any attempt to ban it from the competitive kiteboarding world.