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Did Kiteboarding's Olympic hopes die this Weekend in Miami?

by David Wells - waterhound.com on 1 Feb 2011
Techno Windsurfing World Championships - Techno Windsurfing World Championships Techno 293 Windsurfing

The 2016 Olympics will hold some big changes for the sport of sailing and if the Kiteboard Class has its way the inclusion of Kiteboarding will be one of those changes. The Class is making a big push to put Kiteboard racing in to the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro and as a prelude to the big show had set up an exhibition race this past weekend as sort of a litmus test. So how did it go?

Unfortunately not so well. ·Racing was scheduled to occur on the backend of the Miami Olympic Class Regatta (OCR) being sailed in Florida’s Key Biscayne bay. With the current 2012 Olympic classes on hand the Kiteboarding class was looking to make its debut in Olympic style course racing. ·Day one was set to go off on Saturday January 28th, the same day as the final medal rounds would be sailed for the official regatta.

With all other fleets, including the RSX windsurfer, getting off their final medal races it was then up to the Kiteboards to show their stuff. With winds in the 6 mph range some Kiteboards were able to get out and sail in an amazing display of just how far the Kiteboarding race gear has evolved over the last few years. However with lulls dropping to near 2mph, and sometimes less, it just simply wasn’t going to happen. Unconfirmed rumors have the Windsurfer and the Kiteboard locked in an either/or but not both battle for a spot in the 2016 games.

Despite having some of the world’s best Kiteboards on hand the wind just simply wouldn’t cooperate and Sunday was even lighter. Miami is well known for its fickle winds, and weedy bay which in reality is a good test for the normal Olympic sailing venues which are usual less an ideal. This weekend however proved to be extra frustrating event for the Kiteboards with the remaining OCR fleets successfully completing their medal races on Saturday in the only decent wind of the weekend. ·

Being skunked however was not limited to the kites with the windsurfers also sitting on the beach for an entire day on day 4 of the OCR regatta due to the lack of wind.

In a year where proven fleets are on the Olympic Chopping block this did not bode well for the Kites. Venerable long time boats, like the Star, are still having their fates decided as to their Olympic fortunes and with a decision pending for some time in May 2011 expect the Miami regatta to be cited in the back forth between the classes as they·contend for the 2016 spots. ·

For your author personally this is a tough decision as I’d love to see the old mainstays, like the Star, competing right alongside the more progressive fleets like the Kiteboards. This weekend however showed that some of the back room flames about the Kiteboards low end wind performance may have just gotten some gasoline poured on them.

So while no final decisions have been made Miami didn’t do the Kiteboards any favors and showed it may take a new generation of gear for the Kiteboards to make it to the Olympics. The International Kiteboarding Association, the sport’s governing body, will most certainly not take this set back lying down. While this battle may be lost the war will wage on and with 12 craft competing for 10 spots its going be full court press by all the classes until the May 2011 decision date.·

To leave you on a bright note amongst all this contention is that it does look like the Tornado, the only multi-hulled boat being considered, will be back in 2016 after an unceremonious ouster.

For more information on Kiteboardings bid for the Olympics click this - http://www.internationalkiteboarding.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4287&Itemid=267

For more information on the Olympic Selection Process read the committee's November 2010 minutes on the subject. Click This - http://www.multihull2016.com/downloads/09710EventandEquipment2016Olympics-%5B9390%5D.pdf

Special thanks to the Multihull 2016 campaign for posting the minutes as they seem to be missing from the official site.

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