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A word with the GKA CEO, Jörgen Vogt, and a sneak peak of what is to come in 2020

by Gemma Hamaini 10 Dec 2019 16:48 GMT
GKA CEO, Jörgen Vogt © Svetlana Romantsova

It has been a spectacular 2019 season for the GKA Kite World Tour, with the unification of both the Kite-Surf and Freestyle disciplines, competitive kiteboarding has never been stronger.

This year, 12 events took place across the globe, covering some repeat locations, and some brand new ones....but these events don't magically happen.... There is a lot work and effort from a crew of people behind the scenes who are passionate about this sport and work hard throughout the year to make each event happen, and to bring you all of the content you get to enjoy each day.

No one knows the struggle of running a Kite World Tour better than our CEO, Jörgen Vogt, who spends countless hours ensuring that the GKA Kite World Tour runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. We took some time to ask him about this thoughts from the 2019 season, and what we have to look forward to in 2020.

We have a full calendar of successful events now completed for 2019, how do you feel the season went for the GKA Kite World Tour? Are you happy with the new unification of the Kite-Surf and Freestyle tours? Will we see any more "joint" events once again for 2020?

I am extremely happy with the development of the tour during 2019, especially with the very positive and smooth transition of the twintip freestyle discipline from the World Kiteboarding Championships to the GKA Kite World Tour. After seven successful freestyle events I am delighted to say that we are finally working all together in harmony and joining our efforts to build up professional kitesurfing as the most important, sustainable and worldwide recognised lifestyle watersport discipline.

The GKA Kite World Tour calendar for 2020 already looks very promising for both disciplines (Kite-Surf and Freestyle). In contrary to 2019 we will however schedule less events at which we will run both disciplines. Although the crew, riders and myself love the combined events because of the great "family-feeling", the work load as well as the event budget of events running both disciplines is not easy to handle.

Most people see only the final product of each GKA event - The livestream, video highlights or photos...but can you tell us about all the work and preparation that goes on beforehand to make an event happen? And how many people are involved in the process?

I am always very amused when people ask me whether running a World Tour is a full-time job or what else I do for a living. Preparing no less than 12 events per year, doing all the acquisitions of new event locations, finding sponsors, negotiating the respective contracts, making sure everything is in line with the applicable law including tax-law, managing the media-distribution and finally doing all the accounting and payments, including prize money payments to riders based all over the planet is more than one full-time job!

Thankfully I do have a great team, who support me. Tom Hartmann, our Tour Manager, is responsible for the correspondence with the riders and the event organizers once the event is legally confirmed. He is the man making sure the event is set up in line with the GKA Corporate Identity. We also have a media crew of five people, who not only work at the events but also before, after and between.

The media team produce videos, take care of constant social media coverage, write newsletters and support riders in case they need footage for their sponsors etc. All this support is very important, because I am also responsible for all the other tasks of the GKA, like the upcoming ISO certification of kite-products or monitoring and influencing the legislation processes regarding kite-permissions or prohibitions at various spots in Europe and other parts of the world.

The full 2020 tour schedule is yet to be published, but can you give us a sneak peek of what to expect for 2020? Any new locations or major changes to the tour?

I always look for new and exciting spots, but just as important as the quality of the spot is the reliability of the event organizer and their financial capacity to run a World Cup Event. The 2020 kick-off for the Kite-Surf discipline will be once again at Punta Preta, Cabo Verde. For the twintip athletes it will be the traditional event Mondial du Vent in Leucate, France. It looks very positive that we will be able to welcome a few new exciting spots on the tour for both disciplines. Right now I am in negotiations with Barbados, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Denmark.

Regarding the format we are currently working on some improvements to the rulebooks. Generally I can say that regarding the Kite-Surf discipline we will focus stronger on wave-spots and concerning the freestyle discipline we will adapt the format at all events to the wind conditions. That means that when we have super strong wind, like we had in Leucate this year, we will have more focus on big-air elements than on pure wake-style tricks. Last but not least the GKA are considering extending the GKA Kite World Tour with a hydrofoil-freestyle discipline.

What is your future vision for the GKA Kite World Tour and how would you like to see things evolve?

First of all and most importantly I will continue concentrating on making the World Tour solid, sustainable and financially strong. The World Tour must give all athletes who decide to be professional riders, the security to build up their career in the sport and, if they are successful, earn their livelihood by being a professional kiter.

Secondly the tour and it's disciplines must be exciting for the spectators, the media, brands and everybody who follows the development of the sport. I am very optimistic that we will find strong partners for the World Tour in the near future who will help us to improve the quality of the tour even further, like the livestream coverage but also the locations. In some places of the world like the USA it is very difficult to set up a World Cup event without a strong business partner.

All in all, the stage is set for an exhilarating 2020 competition season. What can you expect? A host of old and new events across all disciplines, new and refreshing media content, an updated and improved live-stream at as many locations as possible, and of course remarkable performances from all of GKA Kite World Tour athletes!

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