Response to Bruce Kendall on Kiteboarding and the Olympics

Kiteboard races are conducted as any other traditional sailing event. 2009 Worlds at St. Francis Yacht Club
Markus Schwendtner

Markus Schwendtner of the International Kiteboarding Association rsponds to double Olympic Windsurfing medalist and windsurfing world champion, http://www.sail-world.com/NZ/Olympic-double-medalist-on-Kite-Boarding-in-the-Olympics/83110!Bruce_Kendalls_comments yesterday in Sail-World. He writes:

Bruce Kendall reflected on Kiteboarding being too dangerous for inclusion in the Olympic Sailing Regatta.

While we appreciate and deeply respect his achievements as a world champion windsurfer, Olympic medalist and Olympic coach, we strongly disagree with his view on the dangers of modern-day kiteboarding and it's unworthiness to be included in the Olympics.

Mr Kendall says he believes that the 'experts' were seduced by kiteboarder's high speeds and impressive jumps, which is clearly a mis-interpretation of the idea of kite racing. We would simply prefer to point out the sheer number of very successful world cup, continental and local kiteboarding races being held all around the world in steadily increasing numbers.

Kiteboarding Worlds, Course Racing, San Francisco, August 2009
Erik Simonson/ h2oshots.com ©

Mr Kendall's claims regarding the rigging and launching area required for kiteboarders are also incorrect in our view and out of context. Kiteboarders might require a beach free of obstacles to rig and launch a kite, but can also launch from a (coach) boat, or any other suitable area. However, it is not imperative that there is someone on hand to launch and land a kiteboarders kite.

To claim that nearly every kiteboarder has had a 'near death' experience while launching a kite is like saying that nearly everyone who has driven a car has had a 'near death' experience. We're not quite sure exactly how Mr Kendall likens racing around buoys on a sailing craft to jumping off of cliffs with a parachute either.

He goes on to point out that a common rule is to not venture farther from shore than you can swim back. We think it is clear that Mr. Kendall has kite racing confused with freestyle riding (in which kiteboarders use small 'twin tip' boards similar to wake boards) as most kite race boards are now upwards of 80 liters which would provide more than ample flotation for a sailor to either save himself or await rescue, just as in windsurfing.

There are so many false and/or misleading claims in Mr. Kendall's letter that it is obvious that either Mr. Kendall is not nearly as familiar with modern kiteboarding equipment as he claims to be and thus highly underqualified to make such claims, or that he is acting in his own personal interests or perhaps those of a fellow New Zealand country man, to make a case against kiteboarding in the Olympics in order to save the investment in another current Olympic class.

In either case, we strongly urge Mr. Kendall to consider the facts.