Oman has further strengthened its claim to be a must-go kiteboard destination with the success of the Kite Speed World Championship held on Masirah Island.
The event attracted some of the world’s best known kite boarders who gave the Masirah Beach Camp venue and ideal kiteboarding conditions in the flat and shallow lagoon an unconditional vote of approval.
“The whole crew came here to discover that Masirah is an amazing paradise, and a very, very fast spot,” said Alex Caizergues, the event winner and new Kite Speed World Champion.
“The feeling of speed is amazing because here you have very flat water and no chop – we can go 100 per cent without risking ourselves. I was ready and super motivated and this place just makes you want to go faster,” said Alex, who set a new championship record of 48.5 knots, almost 90 kilometres an hour.
And he added: “It was an epic trip as it was my first time in Oman. I travelled down the coast, which is so beautiful – I think it deserves a second trip for sure. The Omani people are amazing, just so cheerful, always smiling and welcoming. I am loving the country and loving the people.”
Organised and run by Oman Sail, the Masirah Island test event is now set to become an annual fixture in the kiteboarding calendar, catering to one of the fastest growing sports around the globe.
The Sultanate is already set to host the Formula Kite World Championships in November this year for the first time, which is expected to attract more than 100 male and female riders to the crystal clear waters off Muscat.
Markus Schwendtner, CEO of the International Kiteboarding Association, said Oman had been a revelation to the Kite Speed competitors.
“Everyone was blown away by the conditions, by the friendliness of the people, by the landscape, just everything,” he said.
“The event has been amazing. Bringing everyone down from Muscat and then finding a kiteboarding paradise. You have wind every day here, it is unbelievably good. The test has been a huge success and I hope we can come back next year with more riders and a bigger event – everyone will be happy.”
The extraordinary feedback from the event was welcomed by Salma Al Hashmi, Chief Marketing Officer at Oman Sail.
“We are delighted with the success of the Kite Speed World Championship event,” she said. “Kiteboarding is rapidly growing around the world and we want to highlight the fact that Oman offers perfect conditions for this exciting and innovative sport.
“The aim of Oman Sail is to directly benefit the economy of Oman by establishing the Sultanate as the region’s leading sports tourism destination, and events like these directly benefit the Omani people and the wider economy. At the same time competitors get the benefit of fantastic conditions and world famous Omani hospitality.
“We are hosting the Formula Kite World Championships later this year, and we look forward to welcoming even more kiteboard riders to Oman.”
The Kite Speed World Championship attracted entries from among the leading lights of the high-adrenaline sport from France, Britain, Sweden and New Zealand, including the current world record holder.
Caizergues topped the leaderboard, holding off the challenge of fellow Frenchman Sylvain Hoceini and Briton Dave Williams. High-profile kiteboarder Hannah Whiteley from the UK dominated the women’s standings.
Oman is already an established venue for marine sports, having hosted the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series and the Extreme Sailing Series, as well as the Laser, Laser Radial and RSX World Championships in recent years.
The Formula Kite World Championships will run from November 19 to 24. The high-performance class is the newest discipline in kiteboarding, with competitors using hydrofoils fitted to their boards to skim above the waves.
The class is campaigning to be an Olympic showcase event at Tokyo 2020 with full medal inclusion in the 2024 Games, and the world championships will play a major role in its bid. The rapidly growing sport of kiteboarding has an estimated 1.5 million participants worldwide.
OVERALL RESULTS AFTER 12 RACES
1. Alexandre Caizergues (FRA) – 9pts – 48.451kn
2. Sylvain Hoceini (FRA) – 18pts – 45.988kn
3. David Williams (GBR) – 23pts – 45.794kn
4. Victor Bachichet (FRA) – 29pts – 44.902kn
5. Luke Wigglesworth (NZL) – 49pts – 42.983kn
CLICK HERE for full results