Much has been said of mixing kite boarding and sailing and much more will be said in the lead up to the 2016 Olympics as the kite board fraternity pitch to be an official event. While these discussions continue, the Phuket King's Cup Regatta in Thailand has taken a bold step introducing a Kiteboard Class to the 25-year old multi-class regatta.
Kevin Whitcraft, President of the Regatta Organising Committee explains, 'ISAF is promoting kite boarding and it could be an Olympic demonstration event as soon as 2016 in Brazil.'
'The Committee decided that it is likely to become an Olympic class at some point and the discipline is attracting a younger generation of sailors. We thought it was important for the Phuket King’s Cup to be a leader and bring kite boarding into this event as there are opportunities for our lighter weight Asian sailors in that class.'
Fifteen knots of wind greeted the Kiteboard Class today as the boarders took to the water off Karon Beach for their first day of racing at the Phuket King's Cup Regatta. Low winds meant the fleet had stayed ashore for the previous two days but on Day Three of the Regatta, the morning winds arrived on cue and Race Management set a startline approximately two kilometres offshore and lay a windward/leeward course.
Following a brief AP (the postponement flag), the boarders went into sequence. As the start horn sounded participants bore down on the line, accelerated and crossed the line at 15 plus knots.
The long startline saw most boarders choose the pin and made for a close and exciting start. Olivier Dansin (France) stretched away and won Race One – the inaugural race in the Phuket King's Cup Regatta Kiteboard Class – followed by two-time Asian champion Narapichit Pudla (Thailand) in second, and Phasakorn Phaetraksa (Thailand) in third.
Race Officer Phil Mandeau, set a shorter course for Race Two and got the boarders away quickly. Olivier continued his winning ways and made it two wins from two with Thai star Narapichit staking his claim putting in a good performance to take second from Alexander Salih (Turkey) in third.
With 15 knot winds gusting to 20 plus, the conditions were testing for all. An impressive site indeed – the first time in Asia a Kiteboard Class has been part of a multi-class sailing regatta.
When powered up, the kite boarders are deceiving, appearing to glide elegantly over the sea, yet when tracked on the course as the media boat reached 25 knots, the kite boarder was still catching.