For the first time ever kiteboarding was invited to take part in an ISAF training course, which in this case was a Regional Training Course for level 3 coaches hosted by the Indonesian Sailing Federation on the Island of Batam.
The course was structured between the level 3 coaching course participants and sailors from MNAs under the ISAF Emerging Nations Programme, being funded primarily via the IOC Olympic Solidarity Grant. Trainers from the Spanish and Portuguese Olympic Sailing teams led the course, with the addition of kiteboarding for the first time.
The course day was scheduled with mornings focused on land-based training. Led by one of Portugal’s top Olympic sailing coaches Pedro Rodrigues, coaches carried out course work focusing on training techniques and session organisation along with the long term planning that would be required to bring an athlete to their peak performance level at the right time. For an Olympic programme of course this means a four year training package, so it really is no light undertaking or weekend blast on the water.
The sailors in the meantime worked on physical fitness programmes and personal training schedules with Diego Prefisvela the Spanish Olympic Fitness Trainer which was run in parallel with nutrition awareness courses and health assessments being delivered by Doctor Carman Vaz. For most of the sailors there from the emerging nations this was a whole new level training and awareness, which soon made it clear that to succeed at an Olympic level is a big undertaking and needs thought and planning as well as physical skill.
The afternoons were then dedicated to on-water training and sailing, combining both groups, giving the sailors the opportunity to work on their technique and skills with encouragement and advice from fleet of boats carrying the coaches
The kiteboarding inputs were a little different and had been included to provide an introduction to the sport both to the sailors and the coaches following its introduction into the Olympics. The kite inputs delivered by Neil Godbold from the KTA took place over the first three days of the course through the following sessions –
• Kiteboarding 101
• Kite safety, self-rescue and boat rescue techniques
• Kite rigging and safety systems
• Establishing a National Kiteboard Association
Kiteboard 101 – a classroom session delivered to all coaches and sailors to provide a summary baseline of kiteboarding and kite racing in particular. The session covered development history, growth and spread of kiteboarding, competition formats, organisational structures and the future.
Kite safety and rescue – This session informed the coaches group of what safety systems are currently in place, what a kiteboarder can do for themselves in terms of safety and self-rescue and what approach and role they should take as coaches, without further safety boat training for kite rescue.
Kite rigging and safety – This was a practical beach based session covering location assessment, kit rigging and pack-down, safety systems and kite launch procedures. This was just focused on the participants who added kite training to their course application.
Establishing a national association – This was included as an additional session specific to and on request of the Vietnam team who consisted of both Laser sailors and kiters. The Vietnam Sailing Federation has been admitted to ISAF and currently consists of just Laser, windsurf and kiteboard disciplines. The kiteboarders are perhaps the largest sailing group within Vietnam and wanted to look at how they gained recognition for their own class from the IKA and their sailing federation.
The feedback on the kiteboard sessions was positive although the Olympic issue did surface but it was clear though that the only ill-feeling towards kiteboarding was due to its direct replacement of windsurfing rather than any real negative feelings towards the sport. In fact a number of the sailors asked more “hands-on” training than this course had time to allow – they wanted to learn to kiteboard.
The overall feeling was that both board sailings sports should be part of the Olympics and this would be the ideal scenario and far more obtainable for many emerging nations than expensive sailing classes.
Kiteboarding does offer a new opportunity to the emerging nations if it can be well presented, supported and delivered at the training level. The ENP might well be the best approach for these countries, whereas for stronger countries there should be scope for a kite specific programme perhaps to strengthen kite racing in the lead up to the 2014 trials and the Olympics beyond that.
The potential is there as well as the will from ISAF also it seems, so let hope we get the opportunity to make it happen.