Kite Boarders Unite in Pursuit of a True World Champion

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Kite Boarders Unite in Pursuit of a True World Champion
(Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Athletes who strap modified surfboards to gigantic kites and harness the wind in order to skim lake and ocean surfaces are known as “kiteboarders.” August 4-8, 2009, is when the first true World Championship for kiteboarders is scheduled to occur at St. Francis Yacht Club of San Francisco in California. 

Until now, two kiteboarding organizations from different regions of the globe have claimed to crown the world's best kiteboarder. In pursuit of a truly global champion, the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) petitioned the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) to approve a petition to combine the Kiteboard Pro World Tour (KPWT) and Professional Kiteboard Riders Association (PKRA) World Tour. The ISAF approved the petition.

Now unified under sanctioning by the ISAF, kiteboarders will not only be able to compete for the global title, but they will share equal footing with other international sailing events like “The Volvo Ocean Race” and “The America's Cup.”

Markus Schwendtner, executive secretary of the IKA, describes the importance of the ISAF approval. “Giving the world championship rights to the IKA clarifies the structure of international kiteboarding. It has now become possible to compete under consistent and recognized rules. The sport becomes more attractive and transparent to athletes, spectators, and the media.”

Aaron Hadlow of the UK is the current and five-time winner of the PKRA Tour. Jesse Richman of Hawaii, USA, holds the current title for the KPWT and isn't even 20 years old.

The first three days of competition will consist of qualification, seeding, and heats. The final two days are reserved for The Finals.

In 2006, it was estimated that there were approximately 200,000 kiteboarders on the planet. Kiteboarding styles include “free-style,” jumping, “wake-style,” and “cruising.” Kitesurfing is more geared to “riding waves.” Kites and boards vary depending on the purpose and style of the rider.

In October 2008, kitesurfing became the fastest way to sail on water. The World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) validated a run by Alex Caizergues from France at 50.57 knots. This speed record is the “absolute speed record on water by any craft.”

Kirsty Jones earned the record for distance travel on a kiteboard in May 2006. She traveled 140 miles in nine hours between Lanzarote in the Canary Islands and Tarfaya, Morocco.

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