It takes a long time to develop a world-class athlete. This requires substantial personal commitments and sacrifices along the way on the part of children, parents, coaches, and local and national federations. Those are difficult life choices, but the dream is big and for those who take it on, the journey is well worth it. More than 7,000 kids are currently racing in the Bic Techno 293 and in the RS:X Classes. Hundreds of them travel internationally to attend World Championships. The decision to replace windsurfing with kiteboard racing at the Olympics is affecting all of them.
|“Windsurfing is not only a nice sport by itself… IT IS ALSO THE MOST SUCCESFULL PATH to keep kids on the water and sailing at the critical 13-18 years of age. Unfortunately the coolness and appeal of traditional sailing classes is not as attractive to 15 year olds… Windsurfing is! Look at the pages of our windsurfing kids vs. the pages or all their friends that opti or laser. Windsurfers’ Facebook pages are covered with photos of themselves and others windsurfing…. Their opti & laser friends do not put one picture up – Tomas Nores, Youth Program Director, Miami Yacht Club|
|“We started the program last year with a purchase of 10 sails and 8 boards with the intention of getting all 220 kids in our program windsurfing. Everyone loved it! This year we bought two more boards and three more sails and built a nice shed to store everything – Michael J. Callahan, Sailing School Director, New Bedford Yacht Club|
The Youth Development pipeline for kiteboard racing is minuscule at this stage, if it exists at all. A total of 9 kids competed at the 2011 Youth Course Racing Worlds in France, organized by the French Paragliding Federation (source: IKA).
On the other hand, the Youth participation figures in the Olympic windsurfing pipeline are extraordinary:
- 300+ kids expected at the 2012 Techno World Championships in Medemblik, Netherlands;
- 150 kids (from 28 countries) at the 2011 Techno World Championships in San Francisco, USA;
- 240 kids (170 boys, 70 girls) at the 2011 Techno European Championships in Cagliari, Italy;
- 360 kids (from 26 countries) at the 2010 Techno World Championships in Martigues, France;
- 260 kids at the 2009 Techno World Championships in Weymouth, UK;
- 135 kids (85 boys, 30 girls) at the 2011 Youth RS:X World Championships in Cagliari, Italy;
- 115 kids at the 2010 Youth RS:X World Championships in Limassol, Cyprus.
Appeals by, and on behalf of the kids:
- Here’s a letter from the US Youth windsurfers sent recently to US Sailing;
- And an appeal from the parents of a UK windsurfer;
- From Defi Wind
- From France
- From Israel
- From Thailand