Kiteboarding will feature at Sail Melbourne
Ahead of a crucial vote for the Events for the 2016 Olympics the International Kiteboarding Association has released a promotional designed to show the sport at its best.
Hear from sailors what they think about format and equipment, get first hand information from RS:X sailors like Dorian van Rijsselberghe, Zac Plavsic, and Race Officers like St. Francis' Director of Race Operations, Robbie Dean.
It should be noted that the equipment advocated by the International Kiteboarding Association is that of a Formula or Box Rule for the Olympic event. It is claimed in the video that this will allow competitors of different physical sizes to sail equally against each other. The IKA is against the use of one design equipment for the Olympic Event.
The RS:X currently used in the Olympic Windsurfing event, is a One Design piece of equipment to allow supplied equipment to be used at the Olympics, and major events, and provide some measure of control on costs and prevent the development of expensive one-off/custom built equipment. The counter argument from the IKA is that market forces control prices and development.
Typical kiteboard kit under the Formula Rule is a single board, three rigs and three fins - all customised to the sailor, and able to be purchased from multiple sources. Typical one design windsurfer is a single board, rig and fin - purchased from a single supplier or franchisee.
The full rule for the Formula Kite has not been published (and will not be done so until February 2013) but the published basics of the rule can be viewed by http://www.internationalkiteboarding.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7571&=102!clicking_here
All current Olympic classes are one designs of two types - either single manufacturer one designs such as the Laser, or tightly measured (to very tight tolerances) by multiple manufacturers. The last rule design boat in the Olympics was the 5.5 metre keelboat. The America's Cup AC72 catamaran is a more current example of a box-rule boat. Many keelboat classes are box-rules, such as the Open 60, however the Sailing Olympics has become increasingly orientated to the equality of equipment at a controlled cost. A topical example being the supply of sails and spars for the new 49erFX class from North Sails and Southern Spars specialist one design manufacturing facilities in Sri Lanka. The same plant also supplies rigs for the Olympic 49er class and many others.
It is somewhat surprising that the ISAF could select an equipment which is open design and for which no rule has been published. At the recent trials for new equipment for the Womens Olympic Skiff and Mixed Multihull all boats tested were required to be 'production ready' meaning that the shape, features and weight were frozen at the time of the trials and most had existing class rules already in place and tested in competition. They were all one designs, not open classes. The same arguments advanced to justify the open class in the kites could be used in most Olympic events, on the basis that competitors turned up with say the fastest singlehander they could develop, within a length, beam and draft constraint (ie fitted a box), and the fastest was the winner.
It is claimed that 'competition between manufacturers encourages production of quality equipment for sale at affordable prices'. Again this same claim could easily be applied to other classes for production of an open singlehander.
According to the International Kiteboarding Association 'the 'Formula Kite' appendix effectively addresses the demand to control price and availability of Olympic equipment without going 'One Design' by further tightening the 'box rule' concept. The 'Formula Kite' appendix applies to equipment used for ISAF graded kiteboarding events, any other kiteboarding events are governed by the standard IKA class rules.'
According to Sail-World's research a internationally competitive kiteboard package (one board, three kites) is around NZD 12,000 compared to around NZD15,000 for an RS:X or Laser
The IKA has also announced the first African Championship to be staged in Egypt and claimed to be the first African Championship staged for an Olympic event.