Kitesurfing for the Olympics information from Richard Branson, Reuters and BBC
Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group:
Delighted to announce kitesurfing has been selected as an Olympic sport. It has just been accepted by the ISAF after a 19/17 vote and there will now be kitesurfing at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
This is fantastic news for my favourite sport and kitesurfers all over the world. As we build up to what promises to be an incredible Olympics in London this summer, it is perfect timing too.
Well done to everyone who has worked tirelessly with us campaigning to get kitesurfing accepted as an Olympic sport. Can’t wait to see the gold medal race in Brazil in four years time!
Olympics-Sailing-Windsurfers will dominate kiteboarding gold medallist
* Kiteboarding set to replace windsurfing at Rio Games
* Windsurfers don’t want Weymouth regatta to be the last
* Authorities facing legal challenge over decision
If kitesurfing replaces windsurfing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, most of the competitors currently on surfboards will also dominate the new discipline, the women’s gold medallist said on Tuesday. ”If they include kitesurfing, it will be the same people who will be competing, as in the world there are no more than 20 people (at the top level) … I think wind surfing will come back for 2020,” said Spain’s Marina Alabau. In May, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) announced men’s and women’s kiteboarding would replace the RS:X sail board at the 2016 Games but a vote in November may yet see the decision reversed. The ISAF is also facing a legal challenge by windsurfing chiefs to the vote that could force an about-turn.
In windsurfing, competitors skim across the surface on a surfboard and hold onto a connected sail, whilst in kiteboarding, they stand on a much smaller board and are propelled by a kite which can lift them up in the air. Many of the competitors at the wind surfing regatta on England’s south coast said they wanted their discipline to remain, and that kitesurfing was more a “fun” sport which had not yet matured for serious competition.
“I think that kitesurfing is a fantastic sport, but not (for) racing … it’s a new sport that is still not developed,” Alabau added. ”There isn’t even (a uniform) design and I think that windsurfing is the best sailing sport, it’s really exciting … and there are a lot of countries that don’t want the kites.”
But she said that if kitesurfing was adopted, she would switch, as she and many others had gained experience in it. After news of the decision broke, Israel’s sailing chief Yehuda Maayan told Reuters that the ISAF decision to prefer kite boarding came about as a result of a voting error by the Spanish delegate at the ISAF conference. The Spanish Sailing Federation subsequently admitted its mistake, saying its representative had wrongly voted in favour of kiteboarding ”They said they made a mistake, but now they are going to realize that it was more than a mistake,” said Alabau, Spain’s only gold medallist at the Games so far.
France’s Julien Bontemps, silver medal winner in the men’s RS:X gold medal at the last Olympics in Beijing who finished fifth overall in Weymouth, added his voice to the chorus of windsurfers opposed to the switch. ”France is against the change. Does France want me to go to Rio on the windsurfing board? Yes for sure. In Rio there is no wind. If there is no wind there is no kites,” he said.
GIVE IT A TRY
Dutchman Dorian van Rijsselberge, who won the gold medal in the men’s competition, said had no strong feelings on which board he would prefer to use at the Rio Games. ”Everyone is enjoying themselves (windsurfing). I probably will go to California to try to get the hang of (kiteboarding). Why not?” he said. But disappointed British windsurfer Bryony Shaw, who finished seventh overall, said the
ISAF decision had been a “huge blow to the windsurfing community”.
“We are one of the more spectacular (sailing) classes to watch … and I don’t think you are going to get the same visual image from kiting. It would be a huge loss if windsurfing doesn’t stay in the Games,” she said.
Kiteboarding will make its Olympic debut at the 2016 Games in Rio after the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) dropped windsurfing. The decision has been met with surprise and frustration within windsurfing and an online petition has been set up to keep it as an Olympic discipline. British sailing’s John Derbyshire said: “We’re disappointed for windsurfing.
Kiteboarding vs windsurfing
- Kiteboarding - a wind powered surface watersport using a kite and a board to move across the water.
- Windsurfing - a wind powered surface watersport using a sail attached to a board to move across the water
“[But we are] looking forward to working with kiteboarders to develop the talent pathway for this new event.” The decision was made by the ISAF at a meeting in Italy on Saturday and Derbyshire added: “While an exciting prospect for a new discipline, the decision to replace windsurfing will of course be a huge blow to the windsurfing community. ”We’re disappointed for all those who are working at the coal face of the Royal Yachting Association’s windsurfing programmes to deliver activity and British success on the world stage who will be affected most by this decision.”
GB will embrace kitesurfing says sailing boss
However, he added: “Kiteboarding made a solid case for its Olympic inclusion at the March trials and, although a surprise that ISAF has voted it into the Olympic programme at this stage, it appears they wished to seize the opportunity, rather than wait until 2020.” Britain’s Bryony Shaw, who won bronze in Beijing at the 2008 Olympics, said on Twitter: “Windsurfing is me… I am windsurfing!” before adding: “My focus on London now seems heightened!! New discipline for Rio… New challenge…!”
Compatriot Nick Dempsey, who was fourth in the men’s event four years ago, commented on Twitter: “Wow, unexpected. That was a big decision and a very sad day for windsurfing. My heart goes out to all the aspiring champions and kids with dreams of windsurfing at the Olympics.” Meanwhile, following sailing equipment trials held in Santander, Spain in March, the 49er FX was chosen for the new two-person women’s skiff discipline while the Nacra 17 will be used in the two-person mixed multihull event.
How many national sailing federations are ready to prepare kiteboarding teams, gear and equipment for the 2016 Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro?
Is there a global network of continental, national and regional kiteboarding competitions ready to define who will be competing for gold, silver and bronze medals in the 2016 Olympic Games?
Why was Course Race kiteboarding chosen to showcase in the 2016 Olympic Games, instead of Freestyle, when these kiteboard races will simply be just another speed sailing contest out in the regatta field?
How to ensure there will be enough wind to launch kites during the tight Olympic schedules? Has ISAF thought of an ideal venue in the Rio de Janeiro region?
What will NeilPryde do with the RS:X gear and are they interested in supplying the official Olympic kiteboarding equipment? While kiteboarding celebrates a hard-fought victory over windsurfing for the Olympic ticket, many questions remain unanswered.
In New Zealand, for example, a country with a strong Olympic sailing tradition, the national governing body is disappointed with the decision to replace windsurfing.
“We have recently invested significant resources into rebuilding windsurfing within our development programmes” said Yachting New Zealand’s Chief Executive Dave Abercrombie. ”This is a major setback but if it’s a fait accompli, we will have to adapt and get up to speed as soon as we can”.Yachting New Zealand does not currently have plan for its national kiteboarders and still doesn’t know how and who will prepare a team that will aim for glory in the class.