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Kitesurfing replaces Windsurfing at the Olympics 2016

on 6. May, 2012 – 12:09 / 26 Comments

We were pretty surprised yesterday, to read the news, that the vote for the Olympics 2016 was already made. We recently did an interview with Bruno de Wannemaeker (FCA president and ISAF member), where he said, that the vote will be made after the Olympics in London. The ISAF Council voted that Kiteboarding will replace Windsurfing for the men´s and women´s board events at the Olympics 2016 in Rio.

Since 1984 Windsurfing has been established as an Olympic discipline for men, who saw 7 Olympic games already and will see the 8th Olympic participation with the discipline windsurfing in London 2012. Since 1992 the ladies as well compete at the Olympic games and had 5 events already.

At the Olympic games 10 medals are given away for the sailing class. In March there were 2 independent meetings, a presentation of the kite gear for the Olympics 2016 in Brazil plus a test event. But there was also meeting in Cadiz for the windsurfers, where renewed RS:X gear was represented.

Read below our interview with Bruno de Wannemaeker, which we did, before the decision was made.



C7: What will happen, if the RS:X Class will not be choosen for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil as a sailing discipline?
Bruno de Wannemaeker: Very simple answer. As all old Olympic classes it will probably die. I know nobody, who surfs on a RS:X  just for the fun of it.


C7: What´s your personal opinion about the Olympic windsurfing class? Should it stay olympic?
Bruno de Wannemaeker: The IFCA class wants me to say that windsurfing should stay. Out of my view windsurfing should proof that´s necessary to stay. The current Olympic windsurfing does not represent the grass root windsurfing.


 C7: What has been changed at the equipment?
Bruno de Wannemaeker: At the beginning there was the plan to develop a new RS:X board, which is by 4 kilos lighter. But that would mean, if a new board would be chosen, that everybody including all the clubs would need new boards. It would be a very expensive project. So in the end all decided not to change the board at all. 

“After consulting ISAF and NeilPryde and taking due account of the world economic situation, the class has decided to withdraw the lightweight hull from the process and focus on granular testing fins and sails only. The goal is to boost current performance whilst keeping the cost of any changes to a minimum and allowing those changes to be dealt with by amending the class rules. Our idea would be to phase in any agreed changes so that used equipment from the Olympic fleet could continue to be used by the youth fleets for international youth championships for an agreed number of years.” Rory Ramsden, RS:X Class COO, posted in a press release earlier the year.


C7: What are the problems of the Olympic Windsurfing Class RS:X out of your view?
Bruno de Wannemaeker: Out of my view big events , like Olympic events, should take place at windy spots, at windy beaches. The windsurfers should not start out of harbours, they should start from windy beaches. The ISAF should push for windier venues and should look after the interests the sport windsurfing has. Probably they also should shorten the races from 30 minutes to 15 minutes. A 30 minute long race has a similar physical exertion as a 10.000 meter run, far above the anaerobic threshold. Back at the beach the sailors need two physiotherapists to recover their forearms as quick as possible. They need one for the left and one for the right arm due to the fact that the break in between the the first ad the second race is really short.


C7: What´s the advantage of kitesurfing against windsurfing?
Bruno de Wannemaeker: Kitesurfing follows a box rule, not a one design rule. Everybody is allowed to bring the own gear. This fact makes it a bit easier for the Kitesurfers to have an attractive plan for entering the Olympics in 2016, also transport and acquiring of a kite is easier, read cheaper…


C7: Is there a chance to keep on going with the RS:X windsurfing disciplines at the Olympics 2016 in Brazil?
Bruno de Wannemaeker: Yes it is, but also Kitesurfing deserves it to be there at the Olympics out of my view. The vote will be done after the 2012 Olympics in London in November. Both disciplines should be there. At the moment Kiteboarding has more chances in media in terms of racing. Olympic Windsurfing needs to be somehow more spectacular.


C7: Why not both disciplines, windsurfing and kitesurfing at Brazil 2016?
Bruno de Wannemaeker: In total there are 10 medals for sailing disciplines. I don´t think this rule will be changed. We would need 12 medals, if windsurfing and kitesurfing would be Olympic disciplines for ladies and men. The idea to have 12 medals exists, but it´s fairly unrealistic to get two more medals from the IOC (International Olympic Comitee) to run both disciplines at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. But we should keep on asking IOC with correct arguments.


C7: What is the “PRO Argument” for windsurfing compared to kitesurfing?
Bruno de Wannemaeker: Does Kitesurfing really fit in the sailing world? That´s the question. Winsurfing and sailing has a special charm. The ISAF definitely is looking for something new, but it must fit in their concept!


C7: What´s the best format for young kids nowadays, who want to start racing on the windsurfing gear? Which class would you recommend?
Bruno de Wannemaeker: Tecno 293 is still the best out of my view. In 2014 we plan to include different disciplines at the youth olympics. We will have one day racing long distance, one day with Slalom and one day with classic light wind freestyle. Only the top 4 will make it into the finals. (Techno 293 is a one design class for youth racing up to the age of 17).

Have a look on the Techno 293 website here 


C7: What´s your opinion on a post like following?

On 13th of February Fernando wrote following comment to an recent published article about Olympic Windsurfing on
“Come on guys! Olympic Games are for athletes and as much as I admire Albeau or Bjorn, they are no athletes! They are 40 year old fat alchohol drinkers that are outstanding windsurfers, but no more than that. RS:X Sailors when they jump on a Formula, they win everything. Just by that you can recon that they are in another level.To be one brand the only able to sell olympic equipment is very bad, but not like road bikes os skis, an open class on windsurfing in the olympic would never work. It would cost a fortune to have high level equipment.”

Bruno de Wannemaeker: I would say that perhaps some of the older PWA racers fit the profile described above, but I also see former PWA racers such as Phil Mc Gain and Lars Pederson completing iron man triathlons. So not all of these guys are out of shape. I’m sure if guys like Steve Allen, Ross Williams, Arnon Dagan, Gonzalo Costa Hoevel would put their minds on it, they would kick ass!!


Thanks for the interview!



© 2012


  • mille says:

    Petiton: ISAF: Keep Windsurfing as Olympic Discipline

    and now my few words:
    Ok so kitesurfing will be no one design class (a real 180° turn by ISAF in regard to the past)

    They were arguing about the costs if they modernized the RS:X; how much money has been burned now by banning windsurfing (coaches, material, clubs etc.)

    Now they have to establish a kite sailing class out of nowwhere, that will cost them a lot of money.

    And how much wind is expected in Rio? Hopefully for ISAF the kites will get enough or its getting a real disaster.

  • XD313 says:

    Why does Windsurfing have to have an one design rule and Kitesurfing doesn’t?

  • mille says:

    Maybe because Kiters don’t use a sail so they are no sailboards and therefore don’t have to accomply to ISAF olympic trditions. Or are they to lazy to create a one designs class. Mysterious.

  • Ko says:

    If windsurfing doesn’t have to follow one design rule would it be easy to make it somehow more spectacular as they want?

  • mille says:

    Course Racing for broad masses is always a little bit difficult to understand, but with enough wind I don’t see any advantage from kites to windsurfers.
    And with no wind we can always pump our way home.

    For me it’s a little bit difficult to understand why to throw out a well established class and compared to the other existing olympic sailing classes rather cheap one with a completely new one where every national federation now has to build up a completely new team and so on. Because if they want the kites on a professional level it’s going to get expensive to be competitive moreover with no one design.

    But looking at the cost I think one can get quite a lot of windsurf equipment for just a minimum of cost what Tiger Woods will spend in his equipment for the olympic golf tournament.
    Or look at bikes for cycling.
    Skis for Bode Miller.
    and so on.

    When looking for equipment cost 90% of the olympic program had to be abandoned and for sure not windsurfing.

  • mille says:

    One more thing:

    How can it be that the ISAF dictated a one design for windsurfes for the 2008 and 2012 olympics and suddenly regarding kites it’s a pro for them not to have a one design. Any explanation anybody?

  • Just a thought says:

    I would venture to say that this decision is more of a attempt of ISAF to prove to the IOC that sailing can be cool to watch on TV. ISAF is very concerned that sailing could be dropped from the Money Train that is the Olympics. That fact is why a undeveloped sport (kiteracing) has been chosen. Visual wow factor. Look at snowboarding in the half-pipe. That has a wow factor, and that is the factor that ISAF is trying to say to the IOC, see we are cool too.

    The rules were different for kites than boards. The parameters for windsurfing were 3-30. That dicated a board with a centerboard, so the wieght went up and the planing threshold went up as well. Formula could have worked in the parameters that kites were allowed as well.

    Sailboats can only be competively sailed on a course. In order to preserve sailing, windsurfing was a sacriface, the sailors in ISAF were quite willing to make.

    Look in Miami OCR, there was a demonstration race where the kites could not get off the beach due to lack of wind at a start time. Kites were barely flying. Kites will need more support boats at the ISAF World Cup events, kite changes due to wind changes, safety, etc. Race Management will be more tricky at some of the sailing venue. At the margins of the comfort zone, light or really windy, it will be very hard particurly in the beginning to run the races in a effienct manner.

    So programs will take a bit to get sorted out and producing skilled racers with kites at the ISAF level.

    It will be interesting. If it fails, ISAF will be severly damaged, I would think, in the eyes of the IOC.

  • valerio says:

    Come on guys, get real!
    Both a Lamborghini and a UPS delivery truck has 4 wheels and an engine, so could we say that driving one or the other doesn’t make any difference?
    Can we agree about the fact that RSX is BORING?
    As a windsurfer I’m sorry for the decision that puts “windsurfing” of out of the Olympics Games but, come on, how can you define RSX “windsurfing”?
    How many windsurfers are currentyly sailing all over the world on slalom, freeride, wave or freestyle boards (the “real” boards), compared to RSX sailors? Maybe 100000 to 1.
    And how many of you guys decided to learn windsurfing after the Olympic Games?

  • andy says:

    hi guys.
    i was very shocked to hear the rumour that windsurfing would not persist as an olypic discipline and i would like to leave a few comments on this:

    1 if windsurfing requires a one design that kiting would also have to
    2 windsurfing – the RSX class was a rather bad compromise from the start that was set up in too less time and in the end they chose the wrong equipment just because neil pyrde was the biggest brand on the market at that time.- furthermore, the board/sail is not even easy to get if you are let say an average surfer and want to try out if that could suit you.- therefore, windsurfing would definately need either an open class (which on the other hand would make the contest imbalanced and not olympic but however a true competition also for the brands in the media. or however a new board which should not be a compromise of all windsurfings diversity but more dedicated to a specific wind range and in this case more of an ultimate race board/sail. like for example: why not pic slalom or formula as its discipline. a hybrid is always worse.
    3 i understand that to have a good competition all riders must start from a set starting point and race a determined course. how are you gonna do that with kiters??? they re just gonna swimm for a while on the open ocean until the whistle is blown? windsurfingboards are more stable, safe and are easier to handle if conditions change.

    after all i think that the media is pushing for kiting- since it s meant to be the more modern version and ultimate surfing. but truely there is more windsurfers than kiters and most kiters i know rather tend to climb the sky other then race. for windsurfing, opposite, less freestyle etc but mostly freeriders people that like to race themselfes, friends just for the fun of it whatever.
    if the isaf could just accept at least 2 or 3 differnent boards/sails registered for the olypmics and of own choice to the riders that would mean a more real competition and also advertise it properly so that people out there are willing to try these boards in partiular it would put much more emphasis on windsurfing again.
    i agree RSX is not the solution to go. but to jump from windsurfing to kiting is neither the perfect choice.

  • mille says:

    ISAF-Vote 19:17 for kiters

    And we can’t really blame the RS:X it had been chosen by the ISAF a few years ago. We have to blame the ISAF that they made a battle Kites vs Windsurfers (or better RS:X) but with unfair chances:

    They allowed Kites in their bid a non one design approach
    They take into account a higher wind limit for Kites
    They allow them to perform beach starts
    They didn’t allow or didn’t want the RS:X to be modernized due to cost reasons (setting up a completely new discipline like kiting for sure is less expensive?)
    They made a test event for kites but didn’t test Windsurfers at the same venue
    Up to date nothing exact is known about the competition format for the kites

    For sure there must have been some strong financial aspects for some of the ISAF Members to act how they did.

  • t says:

    there was no need to make rsx a olympic discipline its not spectacular, the isaf have to choose freestyle or wave a few years back now it is unfair if you compare rsx and kiting

  • Loco says:

    There should be formula windsurfing on the Olypmics and not RSX. Formula is also ridden from 7-30 knots and larger population is using it and it has real connection with windsurfing. They have screwed up long time ago when they designed RSX as a Olympic discipline, and how the heck only one producer (NP) is producing equipment for this discipline??

  • Yves Trlt says:

    kite racing is even worse than RSX for the show, and tactically much worse also

  • Adrian says:

    There is Windsurfing as it lives today.
    A young scene gives all their energy in their passion.
    And this get´s represented mainly through the internet.
    Continentseven is the perfect example how you can support todays windsurfing.
    Their are this young slalom, freestyle and wave competitors, who dream to live from their sport and try to reach this with all their efforts.

    They travel low budget to the greatest places in the world. They produce videos, storys and so on, to show the world how they “chase their dream”.
    And how they live their passion.
    And this way this passion gets brought around. And more an more people start windsurfing.
    Since 2006 the yearly percentage of new windsurfing starters is increasing and increasing. Slowly but conistently.

    Also if our sport dosen´t look that spectacualar as other fun and action sports, we offer more then most of them.
    We offer a place in a cosmopolitain community which lives life in an absolutly fantastic way. The enjoying of travelling, the enjoyment of all our nature, enjoying what our nature delivers and to see and understand different cultiures and social problems as many other problems all around the world.

    We offer a piece of freedom in an absolutly unfree western society. A piece of enyojment in a world where most of the people enjoy the stupid evening programm in their TV.
    All this is windsurfing. It´s a great passion!

    And their is Olympic Windsurfing.
    olympic Windsurfing is no fun sport, and it´s no passion at all!!!!
    Olympic windsurfing is just an other sailing disciplien with protagonists who never experienced the real passion of windsurfing.
    And who never can transport this passion to the public.
    As RS/X it self never can do!

    This is not windsurfing as it fascinates many, as more and more people around the globe.
    Buuuut it is the only way of “Stand Up Sailing” wich get´s support by the european sailing associations, because it´s olympic.

    If you are a small chield in germany and you go to your windsurfclub around because you wanna start windsurfing in a professional way and you want support. The only way is Techno 293 preparing you for the olympic games.
    If you go on the Tecno the assocciations will support you. If you go for the real windsurfing they don´t care about you.

    I´m working a lot as a windsurfing instructor. And I defintitly know how you can bring people to windsurfing and faszinate them.
    Every windsurfing course I have get´s invited to the beach at turkey on a windy day. And then I just nale some freestyle moves in front of the beach.
    After I show them some movies from Phillip Köster at Pozo, then some Wave Action at Jaws or Ponta Preta. And then even some Slalom wich they can see at Alacati every day during the training sessions of the Turkish Slalom Competitors.
    After all of this most of them go 100% during their remaining lessons and they realy wanna learn the sport. Most of them come back to windsurf in their holidays. Many even buy their own stuff and start sailing in Europe at their new home spots.

    Imagine I would put them on a RSX or Bic Techno. Tell them this is windsurfing and tell them from now on there is nothing more important then go the hardest possible upwind course with the most speed possible (we talk about 15-20 km/h).

    In my opinion the fact that RS/X is not in the olympig games any more is a great sign to the sailing federations all around the world. They have to focus new, support the new and real windsurfing, or shouldn´t care about it any more and just let us windsurfers do what ever we wanna do.

  • bongoluver says:

    Finally free!

    Hooraaah!! No more ISAF rules, no more squaddies, no more RS:X lets get back to windsurfing for fun instead of for fat old officials that no-body wants to be around..

    A wonderful day for a wonderful sport!!

    I think all windsurfers involved with ISAF/IOC should just quit today, leave the whole thing for what it is.. I mean, they cant organize an event without some paper writing about corruption and bribes. Is that what you want in your sport?

    • jeff e says:

      you know, after the original shock ( as I am a hardcore windsurfer)i totally agree with you. lets lets kiting give it a go, windsurfing had its day..why not.

  • mille says:

    IKA-Box Rules – assuming same for the olympics

    according to their website
    1 board
    3 kites

    Wind Conditions:
    Min: 6 knots

    With these characteristics it would have been quite simple (ok simplier) to build a competitive olympic windsurfing board.

  • gabriel says:

    valerio: “And how many of you guys decided to learn windsurfing after the Olympic Games?”

    thats not a yoke, but after the Olympic Games in Athens 2004 i decided to learn sailing, because windsurfing looked really boring due to the light wind conditions and the RS:X. But i switched back to windsurfing very soon^^

    i think windsurfing should stay Olympic but without the RS:X

  • cueco says:

    Open windsurfing class for olympics is the only choise now.

  • mille says:

    The ISAF Evaluation Report for Kitesurfing in the Olympics:

    “Races are short and fast and ideally set close to the beach for maximum spectator and media appeal.
    Already the kites in the air are “eyecatching” – colorful, bright, attractive.” bla, bla, bla

    After overviewing it I’m wondering why they still have 8 other sailing classes for the olympics they should all be abandoned for the “super kites”.

  • gigi says:

    Maybe BEST thing that happened to windsurfing in quite a while?

    WHAT is RSX after all?? Windsurfing?
    Windsurfing is what people will continue to do now that it is not Olympic sport anymore.
    And they will NOT windsurf on RSX, that is for sure.

    Sailors in the world sail in variety of classes, some of them are Olympic, some are not.
    But no WINDSURFER windsurfs on RSX if not pushing for Olympic games.
    SO WHO / WHAT WAS RSX representing at the Olympic games?
    Not windsurfers in my opinion.
    Hence it shouldn’t have become Olympic class in the first place. So it is only fair that it is not any more.

    Not sure kiting is answer for board-sport either.
    From my point of view (as windsurfer) this if still failure for windsurfing as sport, but maybe (I hope)something good will come from it.

  • mille says:

    Spanish ISAF Council Member voted accidentally for Kiting;
    For those capable of spanish

    –Is that really true? Unbelievable

  • covering their as$% says:

    can´t believe that Spanish comment, for sure the guy who voted was not properly informed/interested enough/awake and got swung along merrily like the rest of the ISAF guys who voted for kite”sailing”, for reasons mentioned above. Now he gets massive critic from his association, realising they have invested a lot into RS-X/windsurfing and kiting unfortunately does not have the structures in place yet, so now he “made a mistake/translation problem etc”….yeah right. Back pedaling is easier than admiting to making the wrong choice by getting swayed by popular opinion, when you go to such a meeting, you need to have your homework done, for sure he did not or does not know enough about the association he represents.

    And this is unfortunately a prime example of how these decisions take place, plus the above mentioned points about the need to jump onto the more exciting sport bandwagon, regardless of wether the sport actually fits into the previous guidlines or not, ISAF is just scared of losing medals, IOC threatens, “make it more exciting”, this is what they do. Sad, especially for all those young windsurfers who have already committed to training. But even more sad and scary for windsurfing, as there are whole lot more youngsters currently benefiting from sailing classes, funded by clubs, associations etcetc.These will mostly be lost to kite “sailing” if no Olympics/International events. And let´s face it, RS-X is dead without the Olympics.

    Shame really, new rules they want to allow for kite”sailing” would make windsurfing a lot more interesting, in fact place for both sports, but the old guys in the yacht clubs prefer to see 50yr old boat classes fighting it out instead,shame,pure politics.

    But maybe, just maybe, November might look different, so before you think windsurfing is better off without the Olympics, sign the petition, otherwise you certainly are saying that windsurfing in general does not interest you, nor does building up the youth community in windsurfing. is that not the biggest complaint on many forums, not enough young people in the sport – Techno/RS-X is a lot more accessible to schools, clubs etc, even if kids move over later to performance boards, they often have to start here, without that, it will only get worse for new blood into the sport.

  • mille says:

    Looking beyond 2016 it’s now the time for the industry to compete or even cooperate in designing a really good board (One design or box rule) for the 2020 Games.
    Because it will be quite hard to comeback in 2020 after missing 2016 with all the other “rather obscure” ISAF classes trying to get into the Games.

    Unless the Kites don’t get their 5-6 knots in RIO but then ISAF would for sure choose SUPing in their 2016 meeting.

  • […] View article: Kitesurfing replaces Windsurfing at the Olympics 2016 … […]

  • […] Justin Denel, one of the young French talents in the waves – he had won the youth wave world title in Peru in 2011 – asked several windsurfers at the Defi Wind event 2012 on their opinion about the Olympic solution. The ISAF recently announced that Windsurfing will not be a discipline in 2016 at Rio, Brazil anymore. The RS:X windsurfing class should be replaced by a Kitesurfing class from 2016 on. Watch the following clip and get some opinions of big names in the windsurfing sport like Anders Bringdal. If you are interested in more infos on this topic, read following article.  […]