Muscat: Oman Sail will host the Formula Kite World Championships in November of this year, six days of intense racing where competitors will go head to head on the super-fast foiling kiteboards.
Kiting is one of the world’s fastest growing sports and the event, which will be held off Muscat’s Al Hail Beach, is the latest major sporting event to be hosted by the Sultanate, building on the country’s reputation as a world class venue.
Oman’s temperate climate, warm seas and steady thermal winds will provide perfect conditions for the athletes as they compete in their quest for honours.
The regatta will be run with the aim of increasing economic diversification and tourism to Oman using sports as a platform to raise the country’s global profile as a high-end tourism and investment 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, topography 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, the Extreme Sailing Series, the Laser World Championship, the RS:X World Windsurfing Championships, and RC44 Championship, to name a few.
“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.”
Hosting the event will target a premium tourist category that comprises the upper-segment of the socio-economic sphere, individuals who will appreciate the country’s beautiful environment.
According to an adventure tourism market report, the global adventure tourism industry generated revenue of $7.88 trillion in 2015, forming an incentive to grow the country’s profile as a sought-after venue for sporting events. Oman Sail put forward a strong bid to host this event showcasing the country’s offerings, and contributing to the country’s substantial efforts to make Oman a year-round sports destination.
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 No. 1.
Ahead of this event, the country will also play host to an International Kiteboarding Association speed event on Masirah Island from July 30-August 5 where riders will compete to notch up the greatest speeds over a set distance. The Island promises a year-round breeze from the Arabian Sea and offers beautiful natural scenery for water-sports adventure seekers. Kite-surfers can reach the island via a 500km coastal drive from Muscat followed by a 90-minute ferry trip.
Markus Schwendtner, CEO of the International Kiteboarding Association, said Oman would be the ideal venue for the competition in November.
“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.”