Oman will be the focus for one of the world’s fastest growing sports when the Sultanate hosts the Formula Kite World Championships later this year.
The crystal clear waters off Muscat’s Al Hail Beach will provide the dramatic arena for six days of intense racing as competitors go head to head on the super-fast foiling kiteboards from 19-24 November.
The high-performance Formula Kite class is the newest discipline in kiteboarding, and sees competitors skim above the water on hydrofoils fitted to their boards. The class is currently campaigning to be recognised as an Olympic sailing discipline at Tokyo 2020 and the world championship in Oman will play a major role in its bid for inclusion. The rapidly growing sport of kiteboarding has an estimated 1.5 million participants worldwide.
The championship fleet of up to 105 male and female riders is expected to feature some of the biggest names in the sport including French speedster Nico Parlier, Monaco star Maxime Nocher, British veteran and multiple kiteboarding world champion Steph Bridge, and her son Olly, 19, the current world number one.
The Formula Kite World Championships is the latest major sporting event to be hosted by Oman, building on the country’s reputation as a world class venue. Its temperate climate, warm seas and steady thermal winds will provide perfect conditions for the athletes as they compete for a share of the honours.
The regatta will be run by Oman Sail, the national initiative to rekindle the maritime heritage of Oman, with the aim of using sport as a platform to raise the country’s global profile as a high-end tourism destination.
In hosting the championships for the first time Oman is greeting an adventurous, well-travelled and fast-growing international kiteboarding community who will be able to experience the country’s natural beauty and welcoming culture first hand. Aside from the resulting economic impact of their stay, these visitors will return home as ambassadors for Oman.
In recent years Oman has been the venue of choice for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series and the Extreme Sailing Series, as well as the Laser, Laser Radial and RSX World Championships.
The country will also play host to an International Kiteboarding Association speed event at Masirah Island, Oman, from 30 July-5 August where riders will compete to notch up the greatest speeds over a set distance.
“We are delighted to be hosting the Formula Kite World Championships in Oman for the first time,” said Salma Al Hashmi, Chief Marketing Officer at Oman Sail.
“Our vision at Oman Sail is to directly impact the economy of Oman by establishing the Sultanate as the region’s leading sports tourism destination.
“The Formula Kite World Championships will be another important step towards that goal: this event is the ideal platform to promote our country abroad and to give local brands global exposure.
“The Omani people will benefit from this event and the competitors will be rewarded with fantastic conditions and of course our world famous Omani hospitality.”
Markus Schwendtner, CEO of the International Kiteboarding Association, said Oman would be the ideal venue for the competition.
“We are very happy to bring this world class event to Oman,” he said. “The 2017 Formula Kite World Championships is an important milestone on our way to Tokyo 2020.
“Oman has proven to be a perfect sailing venue in the past, and Oman Sail is a world class event organiser, hosting the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in 2016 and the Extreme Sailing Series for many years.
“Kiteboarding is one of the fastest growing disciplines of sailing and now finally extends its competition to the warm waters of Oman. I am sure that every single rider will enjoy the warm hospitality Oman is so well known for.”