PARIS 2024 / THE RACE IS ON


FLAMES ON THE TRACK

Having reported from the frontline of most international IKA race events over the last few seasons, Ian MacKinnon gives us the inside track on the kite and foil manufacturers’ race to qualify their designs before the olympic class equipment cut-off date of 1st May 2020

WORDS: IAN MACKINNON / PHOTOS: ALEX SCHWARZ / IKA

All of this, of course, set against the trials and tribulations of training and travel in a summer plagued by Covid cancellations. The race to Paris 2024 has already opened a new and very exciting chapter for kite sports, themed by the fact that only a complete dedication will suffice on and off the track. Add to the mix a hard deadline for registration of designs that will remain locked until the end of the inaugural Formula Kite races on the Marseille track in four years time, the intense pressure is ulcer inducing. Not least in the midst of Covid-crisis restrictions that hobbled most as they grappled with final tweaks.

Hand-in-hand with the quest for Olympic glory and the bragging rights it confers, there is the lure of a commercial fillip and the opportunity to recoup the eye-watering investment each of the five successful foil kite makers and ten hydrofoil brands ploughed into the lengthy process. Failure on the Formula Kite race circuit leading up to the Games’ first mixed team relay event will likely see sales wither fatally, even in the midst of a mushrooming kitefoil racing scene spurred by Olympic inclusion.

Hand-in-hand with the quest for Olympic glory and the bragging rights it confers, there is the lure of a commercial fillip and the opportunity to recoup the eye-watering investment each of the five successful foil kite makers and ten hydrofoil brands ploughed into the lengthy process. Failure on the Formula Kite race circuit leading up to the Games’ first mixed team relay event will likely see sales wither fatally, even in the midst of a mushrooming kitefoil racing scene spurred by Olympic inclusion.

TECHNICAL HIGHLIGHTS AND INSIGHTS

IN THE FEATURE

Certainly, the most radical departure is Flysurfer’s VMG2, which is cast as “revolutionary”. It sports just two rows of bridles and dispenses with brake lines that alter the kite’s camber for turning. It cuts bridle lines by 49 percent over previous versions, drastically reducing drag. To compensate for the loss of bridles and increase the kite’s rigidity, Flysurfer introduced a series of internal fibreglass rods from the canopy’s leading to trailing edge.

The changes dramatically alter flight characteristics, ensuring the kites fly further forward in the window.

That aids de-power and allowed Flysurfer to introduce a 23 metre kite — only topped by F-one’s 25 metre monster — for heavier athletes, enabling an 80 kilo rider to hold it even in 15 to 17 knots. Designer Benni Bölli maintains that depower makes the VMG2 faster through tacks and gybes, though admits the novel style takes time to master to exploit the kite’s full potential. It has been hailed by four-times world champion, the US’s Daniela Moroz, though Covid has prevented her competing, but some younger competitors inexperienced with the kite struggled on occasion in manoeuvres in races in Poland and Austria.

FULL feature IN THE WINTER ISSUE

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FULL gallery feature IN THE WINTER ISSUE

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR TWO SPECIAL BI-ANNUAL PRINT EDITIONS

DIGITAL (ON ZINIO): £5 PRINT: £12 PRINT & DIGITAL: £15

Winter Issue - Out Now Summer Issue - Released early May '21

Shop.kiteworldmag.com

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