Issue 2: Unified Rulebook Proposal

Editor’s Note-

For the six years that I have been involved in sportkite competition, there has been unending debate on  rules structure. From my vantage point, it seems that the time is ripe for a global set of sportkite rules. I was a participant in the Erick V. Rotin Intercontinental Sportkite Challenge, as well as the last World Cup. Especially in Guadaloupe at the Sportkite Challenge, the difference in rulebooks used by the competitors during the year caused some controversy. Some US fliers felt that they were at a disadvantage, as the event was staged around the STACK rules, containing scoring components, competition categories, and procedures that are not used in the US. With the hope of more international events, now is the time to have a unified rulebook.

Hans Jansen op de Haar has taken the time to put together a proposal for the framework of a unified rule book. This project was unveiled on the rec.kites newsgroup a month or so ago, and caused a lot of controversy. We present it here not to create further controversy, but to ask sportkite fliers and officials worldwide to look it over and consider its merits. Hans does NOT intend this to be the ultimate rulebook, he has merely spent  hours distilling his many years of judging experience into a set of recommendations. I think that we would be wise to at least read and consider the product of Hans’ efforts.

We have just been informed that the AKA, AJSKA, and STACK are very close to agreement on an official Unified Rules Book, scheduled for implementation in the US this August 1. We hope to have an in-depth analysis for you in our next issue. Meanwhile, read and enjoy Hans’ proposals.


Rulebook objectives

Any rulebook should, I think, support fair, honest and enjoyable competitions. It should limit the time needed to discuss rules “on the field”, simplify decision making, and leave more time to fly and compete. It should be clear enough to even those who have never before competed, as well as be a guide to competition for the beginner. It should explain the way to judge equally well to the judge as to the flier.    Furthermore, an international rulebook should be translatable, not only into another language but also another “culture”.


My main resources were, in this order: the many discussions I had with fliers, the extensive judges meetings, especially those for World Cup and Euro cup, and discussions with friends and fellow judges before, during and after most events I judged. The first was mainly for a practical (flier’s) perspective, for example, how to simplify wind-checks or entering the field but also where would be the best place for the judges, and how the flier could guarantee that would be possible. The second was specifically for the philosophical side to judging, rules, flying, etc.  Hard to explain, but essential. The third, to give it all a not-too-serious review, as well as a very serious and detailed look into the long term developments of flying, kites, competition and its effects on rules and judging.

Over the years people have written, influenced, changed and improved rules and the rulebook(s), many of them well known in the kite-flying world.  Few kite fliers realize just how hard they worked. Committees, both official and absolutely-not-official have worked on it and quite a lot of the people in those committees are not known at all (Probably only 4 people have ever heard of the Vienna 4, for instance.) I have learned who worked on the rules, and discovered that it was a relatively small group. This was one of the reasons for using rec.kites to have a final round of discussion and feedback.

The result is a rule-book in which I have tried to combine all I know about sport kite competition (as far as it has anything to do with rules).  I used notes dating back more than five years as well as from some months ago, but did not ‘ use’ the existing rulebook.  I just started with a blank screen. Of course, it contains ideas, views and opinions from those I met and discussed things with. And I don’t “agree” with all I wrote myself, but sometimes you have to compromise.

My goals are to have a rulebook available that, of course, fulfills the objectives as stated above, but also to have something available that makes it possible to discuss the rules without having to take the “old” rulebooks as comparison or base;  an old rulebook has had its time.  The book is by no means finished, and apart from finalizing the definitions list, the list of compulsories, and finishing a description of a new grid, it also needs some checks on grammar, spelling, etc. And probably a rulebook is never finished, anyway. The web version is not very well ‘programmed’ either, but the paper version had–and has–priority.

Of course I am aware of the existence of the IRBC, in fact, I have done my best to have it founded, years ago as STACK president. I have waited long to see results. Once I made up my mind, I waited again, first after WC-8, hoping that the judges’ meetings there would speed things up (after almost a year of silence), then again after the announcement that a first draft would be available at the beginning of 1998. I did not want to wait any longer. Some people might say it is not that ‘ functional’ to have two concurrent rulebooks. They may be right, once there are two. But I have no problem with exchanging ‘mine’ with a better one. Or incorporate better ideas. As long as it supports sport kite flying.

Click HERE for the URB Proposal

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Author:Hans Jansen op de Haar

A long time international kiter, Hans is a regular visitor and chief judge at events all over the world, and has also served in various major capacities with STACK and IRBC.

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