Neil Pryde, one of the most important names and brands in the world of kitesurfing and windsurfing, believes “it is a little premature to be saying they [kiteboarders] want to be in the Olympics”.
The sailing entrepreneur, born in New Zealand, has built a business empire in the water and winds sports industry, which also includes the iconic kiteboarding brand Cabrinha, but he has no doubts when it comes to Olympic bids.
“Olympic sailing is all about one design because the emphasis of Olympic sport is on the athlete not the equipment and I think kiteboarding has a way to go to get to a one design standard”, he told Sail World.
“San Francisco is much more advanced in racing. We were quite involved with the St. Francis Yacht Club and in fact we sponsored the first events that they put on in kiteboarding, through our American company. They were probably the most successful events so far run. Even so, while they have good competition and it is spectacular to watch, I just don’t think that they are ready for Olympic status and I say that even with my Cabrinha hat on my head”.
“I think kiteboarding ultimately can be an Olympic sport but I just don’t see it happening any time soon, in spite of the kite guys pitching. But kiteboarding is still up in the air and right now in the RS:X class we are up and running, and probably have over 200 competitors at the ISAF Sailing World Championships”, added Neil Pryde.
The Neil Pryde Group founder decided to buy Cabrinha from Pete Cabrinha, whe he noticed “kiteboarding was starting to cut into the windsurfing market”. Pete entered Neil’s company to run the marketing and product development divisions.
“Cabrinha is arguably the world market leader and we built about 25,000 kites a year. Windsurfing is shrinking but kiteboarding is definitely growing by probably five percent a year, but not everywhere in the world. It’s started to slow a bit in Europe because one of the major considerations of kiteboarding is beach space”.
Neil Pryde produced over 300,000 windsurfing sails a year, in peak times, during the windsurfing fever of the 80’s. Today, the company is the official Olympic windsurfing supplier for the 2012 London Games.