Kiwi kiters off to Cagliari
Four Kiwi kiteboarders will throw themselves in the deep end competing in the kiteboard racing world championships in Italy, with an eye on the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Yachting New Zealand boardsailing coach Dave Robertson will head the New Zealand team racing in Cagliari next week, to gain vital international experience now that kiteboarding looks likely to supersede boardsailing at the Olympics.
"No Kiwis have raced a regatta of this level before. In fact we have all only got into the race boards this year," says Robertson.
The rest of the Kiwi team have kite or boardsailing experience - Matt Taggart manages Ozone Kites in Raglan, Ben Turner also kiteboards off the Waikato coast, and Justina Sellers, daughter of Olympic gold medallist sailor Rex Sellers, has represented New Zealand in boardsailing in recent years.
"We have come here to throw ourselves in at the deep end and learn as much as we can," Robertson said from Cagliari, where the team is preparing for the championships starting October 4.
"We will be analysing everyone's equipment and learning what it's going to take to be competitive in kiteboarding in the future. All the preparation and focus has been our on water skills and speed as that is where we have the most to gain this early on.
"We want to understand all the competencies required to get to the top and make sure that we can build a strong long term plan for kiting in New Zealand."
With around 2000 recreational kiteboarders in New Zealand, Robertson held training camps in the lead-up to this championship to find the strongest contenders.
Over 200 competitors will race in Cagliari on trapezoid, or windward/leeward courses, with the
option of slaloms at the end of the downwind legs. Races are intense at only twelve minutes long.
United States racers made a clean sweep of the podium in 2011, and their competition is expected to come from experienced kiteboarding nations France, Colombia and the United Kingdom.