What Is Really Going On With The Kitesurf World Tour ?
Well first off this week has seen some bizarre announcements from the IKA, ISAF and VKWC regarding the kitesurf world tour. However before we take a look at the politics and announcements lets first take in the action so far at the latest tour stop.
Kitesurf World Tour – Furteventura
Kitesurf World Tour – IKA Announcement
The International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) has decided to cancel all agreements with the Virgin Kitesurf World Championships (VKWC).
The governing body for the sport of kiteboarding will no longer allow the Freestyle World Tour to be run under the organization led by Richard Branson.
IKA intends to oversee the running of the forthcoming two confirmed events in Fuerteventura, Spain, and St Peter Ording, Germany. The decision puts an end to months of negotiations between both parties.
Kiteboarding brands like North Kiteboarding and Naish don’t agree with the fact that the sole Freestyle World Tour is so closely linked with Best Kiteboarding, a brand in which Javier Perez Dolset has made investments. The Spanish businessman has also partnered with Richard Branson to control the VKWC.
“A new contract would have enhanced fairness, transparency and independent judging for riders, with the aim avoiding conflicts between the tour owners, brands, judges and riders,” said Markus Schwendtner, CEO at IKA.
“Additionally, the new contract would have required improvements to the newly introduced PKRA [VKWC] scoring and qualification systems, which the IKA is aware have created significant dissatisfaction amongst riders.”
The IKA is sanctioned to award world championship titles by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) within its rules, under the umbrella of the International Olympic Committee.
The riders’ standings from the three competitions so far will be recognised, even if a decision is ultimately taken to change the judging criteria. And there will be qualifying rounds for each event, rather than the just two qualification slots announced by the VKWC.
The VKWC confirmed that the parties were unable to reach an agreement. However, the organization led by Richard Branson underlines that “we will now deal direct with ISAF in good faith in the best interests of the sport, its riders, our commercial partners and our supporters.”
“The Global Kitesports Association, representing the majority of the Industry supporting the professional riders on the tour 2015, has expressed its full support to VKWC.”
The VKWC confirms that “new public events at great kitesurf locations producing thrilling media content are part of the development plans to change the way kiteboarding is recognized globally.”
Kitesurf World Tour – ISAF Announcement
A few days later ISAF released this statement about the kitesurf world tour:
The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) has announced that the upcoming Fuerteventura Kitesurfing World Championships will go ahead under the Virgin Kitesurf World Championships (VKWC) insignia.
The ISAF, the VKWC and the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) have met in London to discuss the future of professional kiteboarding and the official world tour.
“The positive and productive discussions between the parties included the exciting investment being made by Virgin in this growing area of the sport, and all bodies are working together to conclude a long-term agreement to govern the future management and operations of the Championship,” ISAF tells in a statement.
“In particular, there is common agreement that the future arrangements need to ensure a flexible and commercial approach to developing the professional tour, whilst ensuring and safeguarding the fairness of competition and the interests of the riders.”
As a result, both ISAF and IKA will work with the organization led by Richard Branson in Fuerteventura, “to provide support to the event promoter and assure riders of the fairness of competition.”
ISAF, the world governing body for the sport of sailing, also underlines that only the cooperation and planning between all organisations will further progress the class towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”
All three parties have not clarified whether the German stage in St. Peter-Ording will be run under the VKWC flag.
Kitesurf World Tour – Airforce’s View
Well so far amid some initial skepticism as we have already stated we have been impressed so far with the VKWC format.We are strong believers in showcasing all disciplines of our sport and so far we think the new format has done a good job of this.
It is also our belief that the exposure Richard Branson and Virgin bring to the sport can only we positive and we truly believe this level of exposure filters back down to grass roots opportunities.
ISAF and IKA in our humble opinion our dragging political spin into a sport where we believe there is no place. The statements evoke thoughts such as monopolization and corporate control with vested interests. The 2020 Olympics seems to be top of their agenda, personally we have long opposed based on what happened to the windsurfing RS class and the Olympics with the last push.
Airforce would far rather see kitesurfing take a skateboard/snowboard route to imposing its dominance in the extreme sports market. We believe the current kitesurf world tour format showcasing freestyle, big-air, wave etc has much greater appeal across the board than RS class style course racing. If IKA and ISAF intend in their next Olympic proposal to change the discipline we may have a differing opinion. However we are strong believers in keeping kitesurfing true to its roots and not developing a new format to fit an Olympic criteria. Kiteboarding doesn’t need the Olympics, it needs to find its feet and establish itself the same way snowboarding did then the Olympics will come to kiteboarding.