GKA Kiteboarding World Tour: Air Games.
The GKA Kiteboarding World Tour: Air Games is the newest format to hit the International Kiteboarding events calendar this season. Aiming to showcase twin-tip riding in all its glory with a big air element to boot, it’s already caught the attention the industry’s biggest names. With the first event underway in Leaucate, we caught up with Jörgen Vogt, Secretary General of the Global Kitesports Association (GKA) to find out how it came about, where it fits in and why it’s important to the future of the sport.
Hi Jörgen, can you sum up the GKA Kiteboarding World Tour: Air Games.
The essence of the new tour is to find the most complete twin-tip rider out there, however the basis of each judging category primarily calls for as much height as possible. After that, it will come down to each rider's interpretation of explosive riding and how they want to display their vision for an all-round show in the given conditions.
Tricks will be judged over four categories and at the end of the heat, each rider's best three tricks from three different categories will count. The four categories are:
Regular jumps (spins, grabs – anything goes, as long as it's high). Board-offs, Kite Loops, Handle Passes and all combinations of the different categories.
How is this tour different and why is it good for the future of the sport?
The tour should be as comprehensive as possible giving riders of all styles a chance to win, make the sport easy to understand and be highly attractive to the public. Over the last few years professional kitesport has become more diverse yet niche at the same time. The GKA Kiteboarding World Tour: Air Games will turn this development around and bring the focus back to a sport every kiteboarder can do.
In the past we have witnessed how people who are not deeply involved in wake- and new-school-freestyle lack interest in the discipline on professional level, because it’s difficult to understand. The GKA listened to people at the beach, the brands, the magazines and wishes of the event organisers and created a format that we believe will reflect kiteboarding in the best way.
Why was it created by the GKA?
The GKA has been sanctioned by World Sailing to run World Tours in all performance disciplines of kitesport. Because no other reliable tour operator was willing to run a wave tour, the GKA built up the Kite-Surf World Tour in 2016, which combines wave riding and strapless-freestyle. This format has been hugely successful and the GKA Kite-Surf World Tour is today’s most thriving World Tour in kitesport. Coming from the experience of the Kite-Surf Tour, plus the desire of the kitesport industry to run a twin-tip tour with strong big-air elements, it made absolute sense to compose the “Air-Games”World Tour.
How does it fit in with the other tours and disciplines that we see already?
It fits perfectly. The Kite-Surf World Tour crowns the best and most complete rider on a surf-board, and the Kiteboarding World Tour crowns the best and most complete rider on a twin-tip board. But there’s no doubt that race disciplines, run by the IKA, slider- and obstacle-competitions and of course wake and freestyle in the pure sense, are all eligible and important for kitesport.
Will it collaborate with any existing events on the kiteboarding calendar?
We might run two or three big events where we will feature both the wave/strapless-freestlye and new twin-tip format. Events where this is likely to happen are Tarifa, Sotavento and Brazil. The upcoming World Cup event in Leucate (Mondial du Vent) is well established and a spectacular place to start the new tour.
Where and when will it kick off?
Kick off is today in Leaucate! The list of riders attending shows just how attractive the new format is. All Kiteboarding World Champions from the last years, as well as the current winner of the King of the Air have confirmed their attendance. I cannot recall any kiteboarding event at which the complete “who is who” of the sport came together for competition. More information on the upcoming event can be found on the GKA webpage https://www.global-kitesports.org/news/kiteboarding-world-tour-riders/