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 Very interesting article on Seabreeze site

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blast

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PostSubject: Very interesting article on Seabreeze site   Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:11 am

Has windsurfing dashed the future of Kiteboarding?
Who needs the Olympics anyway?
After what was labelled a crippling blow for kiteboarding by many bloggers and industry opinion leaders, is the sport of kiteboarding really in trouble now it's not an Olympic sport?

Last week, many young kiteboarders hopes were quickly doused when the head honchos at the Olympic sailing committee decided that windsurfing should be allowed to remain the only boardsailing discipline in the Olympic sailing program. They cited all kinds of claims such as "Kiteboarding is still growing as a sport", "It's not safe" and "it's not ready for olympic level competition" among many others as reasons for it's exclusion. But is it really the worst thing to every happen to kiteboarding. Maybe not!

To see where kiteboarding is going to go. First you must look at the sport of windsurfing in the early 2000's. Two very distinct disciplines had emerged in racing. On one side, there was the old, outdated and very uncool Mistral one design class. Nobody liked it, nobody cared and it certainly didn't inspire anyone to get into the sport in the first place. All it really had going for it was the cheap(ish) price. Then, on the other hand there was the emerging class of 'formula windsurfing' which WAS cool. It was fast, technologically advanced and fiercely competitive, everything an Olympic sport needed. Even with all the technology it was still way cheaper than buying a competitive dinghy. But the problem was, the Mistral (and later the RS:X) had already been chosen as the board to use, but neither of these represented the fastest and most exciting form of windsurfing, and nor were they cheap to buy in comparison to formula gear.

Now, getting more to the point, kiteboarding is only just getting to a stage where the 'formula kite' ruling is becoming fair. Manufacturers have all arrived at a similar shape in both kites and boards, and the athletes skill is now the deciding factor in who comes where. So for the Olympic committee, all they'd do is choose a board, and a kite and say "RIGHT! That's the one-design equipment. Everyone go to your nearest Cabrinha dealer and buy it for $10,000." We know this because that's what happened to windsurfing.

So then those chasing a shiny gold medal go off on their one-design gear, and a splinter group of racers decide to develop their gear further, throwing away the one design rule book and making new, faster boards. Of course this catches on and everyone starts buying the faster boards as something fun to do, and we've got the same problem as windsurfing now has, with the super un-cool RS:X board, and the much more attractive Formula boards which everyone would much rather be racing.

Fast forward four years. Where will kiteboarding equipment be, and how much faster will it be? The problem with the Olympics is that it's a four year cycle. Four years is a crazy long time in a sport like this, where each year we see tons of development from a range of manufacturers to constantly improve the equipment. What we need is frequent revisions to the formula rule, and access to all manufacturers in order for the gear to develop.

We've still got a world cup, we still crown a world champion and of course, they all get to ride the cool equipment. That's what brings people into the sport. And that's what the sport of kiteboarding needs right now. So while everyone jumps up and down and says 'boo hoo', take a closer look at windsurfing and ask yourself what the Olympics actually gives back to them. Sure, 30 seconds of air time if someone wins a medal, and maybe another medal on the aussie tally, and then of course the Olympian who gets to compete. Yay for them. But how many people go and take windsurfing lessons from all of that?

It will be very interesting to see what happens in four years time. Could we be sitting here thinking that we were actually better off without the Olympics? Who needs them anyway...
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MarkW

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PostSubject: Re: Very interesting article on Seabreeze site   Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:03 am

Good read...
I personally can't see how this can be worst thing to happen to the sport?? Kitesurfing is an amazing sport and lifestyle and we've done alright without the Olympics so far. The sport has grown massively over the last 10 years or so and is developing all the time. More and more people are giving it a go and getting stoked on it, and this year certainly in south wales has seen a large number of new faces and many of those sticking at the sport and becoming regular faces down the beach. Granted the development and money invested is going to take a blow but do we really need it? Let's be honest if people who know what we do but don't if you know what I mean see course racing on the tv, they will still be none the wiser... People racing around a course on oversized kites and boards is not really what kitesurfing is about.
Also its an extreme sport and that's why I do it. I personally don't think extreme sports should be mass marketed in the Olympics its not what extreme sports are...
The moment our beaches become rammed and every holiday maker is looking to fly a kite is the moment I will be looking for another fix...
So is it the worse thing to happen..., I personally really don't think so...
Now here's hoping for a windy wk Very Happy
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Very interesting article on Seabreeze site
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