It would seem to me that due to the nature of kitesurfing contests it is such a subjective interpretation that is to be judged that it is difficult to determine a clear winner. My concern is that, due to this fact, kitesurfing will degrade into the same sort of "Prima donna" attitude of figure skating, or some such other event that relies on what the judges think, not on empirical data (such as is the case in a race, or even a hangtime competition where the results speak for themselves)
As is already becoming apparent in the other thread about the Feurte event. "So and so, should have won, but he got robbed by the judges, etc., etc."
How can you really determine who really is the better rider? There are so many different variables in kitesurfing.
Kitesurfing certainly does not lend itself to a pure results format like racing that could determine a winner, so I don't know what the solution is. Maybe set up some sort of steeple-chase type of venue (jump over bouys, rafts, etc.?) to showcase kiting's jumping ability, coupled with a best time through the course?
I only hope that kitesurfing is not headed down the slippery slope of self-aggrandizement, egos, and biased judging. It is too cool of a sport for that.
I think this is an interesting topic and that some good points have been raised. I also wonder about spectator safety issues in these competitions. Someone made reference to some potentially dangerous situations at the recent Miami Masters. If you have a thousand people crowded together on the beach downwind of a bunch of kites, you have potential problems with kiteboarding competitions! Perhaps Rick Iossi can speak to this topic.
Safety at kiteboarding competitions always deserves careful consideration and planning. At an event like the Kiteboard Masters with the potential of tens of thousands of spectators on the beach beside the launch and landing area it becomes critical. A portion of the new Kiteboarding section of the AKA website will be devoted to planning, organizing and running kiteboarding competitions and events. A general announcement will be made once the new kiteboarding section is online, which should be in the next couple of weeks.
If anyone is contemplating running a kiteboarding competition or event I would advise appointing a full time safety coordinator that is well experienced in kiteboarding and ideally competition organization as well. They should carefully evaluated the launch/landing area, performance zone and plan through likely accident/incident scenarios. They should have adequate security personel and an EMT to help out during the event. Of course if you have predictable sideshore winds for the competition many of the shoreside safety issues diminish.
Most competitive riders don't use leashes. Runaway kites can be very dangerous to spectators. Hopefully leash use even among competitors will become universal or better yet, required, as leash designs improve. Until then you need to paln for runaway kites and do your best to protect bystanders for this potential threat.
Safey planning for the Masters was very extensive and involved many volunteers. It was very capably coordinated by Paul Menta of Kitesurf-the-Earth, PASA and Key West to Cuba Crossing fame. No serious incidents occurred during the Masters in part due to careful planning and exection.
As to judging at these competitions Christopher Tasti mentioned putting together a competitors group with creating a uniform, fair system for judging. I am not sure where that process is at this time. It sounds like a great idea though.