Kite Racing Equipment Much More Expensive than the RS:X

The RS:X offers the least expensive route into the Olympic Regatta for small and emerging sailing nations:

 

DINGHY

 

WIND

 

KITE

 
Pathway Optimist $4,000 Techno

$2,100

Olympic Laser $6,700 RS:X

$5,500

Box Rule $8,500
Kite: 1 hull $1800, 1 set fins $600, 3 kites $6100 (10m, 13m, 17m)
  • The minimum cost of kite racing gear under the box rule (1 board, 3 fins, 3 kites) is $8,500. Even with the bare minimum, kite race gear is 55% more expensive than the RS:X.
  • Many kite racers estimate that they will need to have a quiver of at least 5 kites to cover the full wind range, before analyzing the conditions and, at the last moment, registering the 3 kites they feel will make them the most competitive for that event. This would increase the cost of equipment to at least $11,500.
  • ISAF required the RS:X hull to last four years in order to reduce costs over the course of an Olympic campaign. In contrast, the selection of kiteboard racing is an invitation for rich teams and manufacturers to invest in equipment R&D and “disposable” equipment. With ultra light-weight construction and evolving designs, top equipment will inevitably have a very short shelf-life, and limited resale value.
  • In the real-life example of formula windsurfing, which also follows a box rule, it’s not uncommon to see contenders show up at regattas with 3 boards, 4 rigs and half a dozen fins (each fin valued at more than $1,000) before narrowing it down to 1 board and two sails required at registration. And a formula board only has one fin versus three, currently, for kite course boards.
  • Because kite racing is so new and new designs are advancing rapidly, it is very difficult to purchase a current, competitive board even with an unlimited budget. Go on-line and try for yourself!
I had a very strong sailing background before I learned to kiteboard and have always looked at kite racing with some interest. However, I’ve been covering events since the beginning of kite racing and it felt like every time I went to a racing event the boards had radically changed compared to the ones I had seen previously. I never started racing because I never felt like I had enough time and money to play the gear evolution game – Paul Lang, Editor of Kiteboard Magazine, Vol. 9, 2012

At some point, the R&D race in kite equipment will stabilize, and a one-design solution might become practical. But at this early stage in the development of a young discipline with its sights on Olympic competition, the equipment race is not over, and the depth of a team’s wallet would be a key factor in its athletes’ performance. This would go against Olympic and ISAF principles.

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3 comments

  1. Benner

    Don’t they also need different line lengths for the different kites too… each set up is about $500 done properly so don’t forget to add that to your calculation.

  2. gregorio

    and the top riders are all getting free (sponsored) equipment so that keeps them on the top without having to pay for their gear. kind of frustrating.

  3. Martin

    You need to factor in the cost of a van to transport the enormous size of the RS:X equipment. Should balance it out a bit.

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