Under the patronage of Dr Abdul Munim bin Mansour Al Hasani, Minister of Information, and with the attendance of Ahmed Nasser Hamad al Mahrizi, Minister of Tourism, the 2017 IKA Formula Kite World Championships was officially opened in front of Oman Sail’s headquarters at Al Mouj Muscat Marina.
A clique of reigning and former kite racing world champions are lined up and ready to fight it out on the flat waters of Oman’s dramatic coastline as they vie for the prized crowns.
The impressive roster of the world’s fastest kitefoil racers represents the showdown of the year in what will surely be breathtakingly tight contests on the Gulf of Oman’s crystal clear waters off Muscat’s Al Mouj Beach.
The head-to-head battles will see reigning International Kiteboarding Association (IKA) Formula Kite World Champion, Monaco’s Maxime Nocher, attempt to see off title challenges from France’s Nico Parlier, the “open” Kitefoil Class world title holder, and his countryman Axel Mazella, the KiteFoil GoldCup World Series victor.
In the women’s division—raced separately from the men over the six days of competition—reigning IKA Formula Kite world title holder, the US’s Daniela Moroz, still just 16, is trying to keep her nerve and ignore the expectation heaped on her.
With 58 competitors—six of them women—from 22 countries and six continents, the hotly-contested title fight hosted by Oman Sail, with associate sponsor Al Mouj Muscat, will provoke intriguing battles on warm waters bathed by consistent sea breezes.
Oman Sail has already staged a host of the sport’s most prestigious events, including the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, the Extreme Sailing Series and the Laser World Championships.
The addition of the IKA Formula Kite Worlds to that line up chimes with its vision to project the Sultanate’s profile on the global stage. A colourful opening ceremony that welcomed the athletes, gave voice to that vision.
The Formula Kite Worlds, run over five days’ racing, is a “closed” event that restricts riders to four registered series production kites and one production hydrofoil. It is the same format that will be deployed if kiting is successful in its bid to become a “showcase event” at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The impending decision partly explains why such a strong field has turned out for the kite racing calendar’s climactic event.