The final countdown has begun to the biggest date in the kiteboarding calendar – the Formula Kite World Championships in Oman.
With 100 days to go to the start of the event on November 19, preparations by organisers Oman Sail are well advanced for the six-day festival of speed off Muscat.
A championship fleet of up to 105 male and female competitors are expected at the championship, which features the high-performance hydrofoiling Formula Kite boards. The class is the newest discipline in kiteboarding and is campaigning to be included as an Olympic event, with a decision expected around the time of the championship.
The 100-day landmark comes shortly after Oman was hailed as a ‘kiteboarding paradise’ by competitors at the Kite Speed World Championship held on Masirah Island.
“The Formula Kite World Championships is our biggest event of the year,” said Markus Schwendtner, CEO of the International Kiteboarding Association. “We are also awaiting an announcement on the class being included at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which could well increase numbers at the World Championships. So it could be a very big year for us, and for Oman.”
And he added: “Oman was a revelation to the Kite Speed competitors – everyone was blown away by the conditions, by the friendliness of the people, by the landscape, just everything.
“It was very well organised so we know that Oman Sail has all the skills and experience to host a great Formula Kite World Championship event.”
Some of the biggest names in the fast-growing sport are expected in Muscat to compete for glory. These are likely to include Germany’s Florian Gruber and French speedster Nico Parlier, who top the world Formula Kite rankings just behind Britain’s Olly Bridge. Meanwhile, Bridge’s mother Steph, a multiple kiteboarding world champion, leads the women’s rankings ahead of USA rider Daniela Moroz and Russia’s Elena Kalinina.
“We are well prepared for the Formula Kite World Championships and we look forward to welcoming the many international kiteboarding athletes to Oman in 100 days’ time,” said Salma Al Hashmi, Chief Marketing Officer at Oman Sail.
“Following the great success of the recent Kite Speed World Championship event this will be another opportunity to establish the Sultanate as the region’s leading sporting destination. It will bring benefits to the Omani people and the wider economy, and will allow competitors and visitors to experience the fantastic sailing conditions and our world famous hospitality.”
Oman has been the venue of choice for several international sailing events in recent years, including the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series and the Extreme Sailing Series, as well as the Laser, Laser Radial and RSX World Championships. All have been organised by Oman Sail, the national initiative to highlight the maritime heritage of Oman and promote the country through top level sports events.