World Sailings 2016 Midyear Meeting took place in the Olympic Capital Lausanne, Switzerland, and for the kiteboarding community it turned out to be all about our Olympic ambitions.
Youth Olympics 2018
The equipment for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires has confirmed to be Twin Tips - basically following the TT:R class rules with some small amendmends (i.e. registered series production boards and kites to ensure that rich countries will not produce "special edition" equipment and to prevent an arms race).
The courses will be reaching and downwind courses, and at a maximum only include minimal upwinds. The courses will depend on the actual wind conditions and may include obstacles to jump in a boardercross configuration.
The qualification system has been discussed between IKA and World Sailing and we have proposed three qualifier events to bring the qualification opportunities as close as possible to the emerging and developing countries of the world. The proposal included events in three "spheres" - one being South East Asia / Oceania, the second being North and South America, and the third being Europa and Africa. It is our intent to hold the three events namely in SE Asia, Central America, and North Africa.
In total 12 boys and 12 girls will qualify for the Games - a minimum of one nation per continent, plus the 4 best nations of the world regardless of continent, plus one spot for the host nation (Argentina), plus one tri-partite place to allow a competitor from countries that would otherwise not be represented in the Games at all to participate. This place will be granted by the IOC directly.
It is important to understand that in the qualifier events, riders qualify their country and not themselve - then the country decided in national qualifier events which rider they will send to the Games.
The complete qualification system including the detailed specification of equipment (amendmends to the TT:R class rules) will be published by the IOC in June.
Olympic Games 2020
The biggest surprise came in form of a move by the World Sailing Executive Committee and CEO to re-open the slate of events and equipment for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
In a taped interview with Kit McConnell, Event Director at the IOC, he outlined their 'Vision 2020' initiative. While not explicit it seems that the IOC want World Sailing to open up the 2020 events for review.
Previously it had been agreed that all 10 events from Rio 2016 would remain the same to provide some continuity.
As it was presented there is a strong push from the IOC to get kiteboarding in by 2020 and the challenge is to figure out how to combine that with the current 10 events.
It was understood from the discussion that the IOC wishes to see a medal for kiteboarding and not a demonstration event. If that means men, women, both, or some kind of national team competition remains to be seen.
There will be an electronic vote in the next few weeks where World Sailing Council will be asked to open up the Events, with a discussion on the new slate of events to be made in November, or until January latest.
In parallel with the opening of the slate of events request, World Sailing is requesting existing events/ Classes to consider how they might "evolve" and consider "format" as a way of differentiating the Classes and showcasing our sport in the best light.
This means, selected classes and equipment should move away from 10 times doing windward/leeward courses and consider formats like slalom, theatre style, endurance etc., if it fits the class and the equipment.
The IOC decision for 2020 will be made in June 2017 and they will either ratify the proposal made by World Sailing or make a decision of their own.
We will further report on these latest developments at the upcoming European Kiteracing Championships in Cagliari starting on the 16th of May, and enter into discussion with you riders on how to best bring our sport forward.
You can still register for the European Championships at http://internationalkiteboarding.org/index.php/course-racing/events/upcoming-events/formula-kite-events/41-european-championships