92 competitors from 19 countries registered for 2020 Formula Kite Individual European Championships

For the first time, athletes are racing on equipment that will be used at the Olympic Games in Paris.

The 2020 Formula Kite Individual European Championships officially began at 12:30 noon on Tuesday 18 August. A competition of this rank is being held in Poland for the first time. All eyes are set on the newly approved registered series production equipment, equipment on which athletes will compete during the Olympic Games in Paris 2024.

“This is especially a test of new equipment. All the top guys are racing on equipment that was only approved a few weeks ago due to the COVID-19 delays” - said Markus Schwendtner, Secretary General of the International Kiteboarding Association (IKA).

Hydrofoils used during the competition are mass-produced equipment and are certified by the IKA.  In other open kitefoil competitions, it is allowed for competitors to compete on equipment which are prototypes or customized. Hydrofoils used during the European Kitesurfing Championship are standardized to ensure a level playing field and therefore avoid an arms race, and require certification every four years.

Another highlight is the women’s participation. One third of the competitors are female, with especially strong participation from the host country Poland, Great Britain and France. Among them is Gisela Pulido Borrell from Spain. She is a multiple freestyle world champion, who is now dedicated to win an Olympic medal in 2024.

“I will start in Puck, because this year it is the most important competition in the world. Due to the epidemic most of the competitions were cancelled. Before I had been doing freestyle and for a year now I started my Formula Kite adventure. I wanted to do something new and take part in the Olympic Games, which will be the culmination of my sporting career. So I'm training for the Olympics in Paris”, says Gisela Pulido Borrell.

Another key element is the high participation of young and very young athletes.

“I'm very positive, because throughout this whole situation with COVID-19 we thought we wouldn't meet at any training camp. It's nice that the championships are held in Poland, because it's pride. This is the first foil competition in the history of our country. I would like all the participants to come back home and say that it's cool in Poland “- says Julia Damasiewicz (15 years old) – one of the best Polish competitors and winner of the silver medal at the ANOC World Beach Games last year in Qatar.

“If I had to advise the younger players, they would say that they should start and push the progress as soon as possible “- says Marceli Stępniewski (11 years old) - one of the youngest kiteboarders at the championships.

The official opening ceremony of the European Kitesurfing Championship was attended by Hanna Pruchniewska, Mayor of Puck, Markus Schwendtner, Secretary General of the International Kitesurfing Association (IKA), Igor Czernik, President of the Polish Kiteboarding Association (PZKite). After the opening ceremony, competitors tested the waters at the practice races.

The competition is organized according to the latest COVID-19 prevention guidelines. A doctor is present at the venue to monitor body temperature and general health status of participants and officials. All meetings with competitors are now being held virtually, and protest hearings and equipment inspections follow strict guidelines for distancing and disinfection.

“We decided to reduce the amount of materials distributed to the competitors and group organizational meetings to the absolute minimum. We only give out T-shirts and bracelets for identification to the participants” - says Michał Zieliński, organizer of the competition, member of the Polish Kiteboarding Association.

“The health and wellbeing of all participants has the highest priority. We have to get used to do things different and reduce social activities in order to ensure that we can continue to organize competitions to showcase the skills of our competitors. This is the new reality we are living in, and we have to make the best out of it for everyone”- concludes Markus Schwendtner.

Competition will take place daily from 1100 hours (depending on conditions) and conclude on Sunday 23 August with the Medal Races for the top 14 men and women, and a final race for the rest of the competitors.