The International Kiteboarding Organization (IKO) was founded in 2001 by Frédéric Bené and Eric Beaudonnat and became the leading kiteboarding organization, specialized in kiteboarding education, promoting safe practices and enhancing the highest standards for the industry over the last 15 years.
IKO is in constant development but the goal remains the same: to provide support to the kite community. The organization strives to reach pure excellence in the teaching experience by finding the perfect balance of fun and safety while keeping each kiteboarder's individuality in mind.
It all started with kiteboarding pioneers’ desire to share their passion for the sport and make it more popular and safe. At the very beginning, there were mostly self-learners and sometimes fatal accidents. Both Eric and Frédéric envisioned knew the sport would require an international organization. In 1999, Frédéric helped the Wipika team to settle down in the Dominican Republic and created the Wipika School Network (WSN). The first WSN’s mission was to train kiteboarding equipment retailers and distributors in order to develop and provide a safe way to teach and practice kiteboarding. Eric was then hired to create the contents and to provide teaching practice. This was the embryo of what later became the IKO.
In 2001, the two co-founders and friends created the IKO and launched an independent global training program which still assists the kite community from students to instructors and schools. This has been possible thanks to quality teaching contents, certification standards, and the most complete method for teaching kiteboarding that adapts to anyone and makes riders safe and independent.
The international development leaned on kite schools ready to commit to the IKO standards. Those centers were able to run quality Instructor Training Courses in coordination with a few wise instructors who had been selected and intensely trained to make sure they would follow the IKO methodology.
Nowadays, the IKO network counts more than 130 schools worldwide and 27 Examiners in charge of the Instructor Training Courses. Thanks to them, a thousands new Instructors are trained each year and 45,000 kiteboarders receive safe kiteboarding lessons each year.
The sport got stronger after the creation of the International Federation of Kitesports Organization (IFKO) in 2015. This federation fully recognizes Kitesport as a whole sport. IKO trainings and certifications have been recognized by IFKO in March 2016. Several countries are already part of the IFKO and each time a new national kite organization becomes a member, it opens path for IKO certified members to be recognized lawfully in their country.
Challenges and Motivation Over the Years
Kiteboarding has not always been as safe as it is now. Eric said: “We lost friends in kiteboarding accidents, and we decided to make their loss worth by setting new rules based on experiences and risk assessments.” Frédéric, on the other hand, sees the IKO as the most rewarding adventure of his life. “When you work and contribute to help other kiteboarders while sharing a common passion, you are fully motivated. We are happy to see life changes for many IKO Instructors after their training. We receive so many positive reviews from students who learned with IKO and the Examiners highly appreciate to see their work valuable.”
What is coming Next?
Kiteboarding grew so much in the last 15 years and so did the IKO. It contributed to its expansion daily and globally. The future looks both promising as well as challenging but with the years of experience and its international team, the IKO is ready to overcome eventual obstacles and to fulfill new achievements.
Training-wise, IKO wants to integrate and facilitate the learning of strapless or foil kite so more kiteboarders can enjoy these beautiful disciplines safely through IKO Evolution Clinic and Coach Courses. At the same time, IKO remains focus on the quality and is launching the new 5-day Assistant Instructor Training Course Plus (AITC-Plus) and 5-day Assistant Trainer Training Course (ATTC).
Meanwhile, the IKO is convinced that technology can actively contribute to develop the sport and improve the learning process. Not only it is a fantastic way to connect with the kite community, it is also an opportunity to offer enriched online contents and develop unique and practical features for all. IKO is currently working on several projects: transforming handbooks and manuals for professional courses into eBooks, providing digital courses and certifications, integrating new services on the web and launching its kiteboarding app.
IKO’s deep desire is to satisfy its members and bring great support to the whole kite community today and in the future so everybody can learn, progress or teach kiteboarding anywhere and with confidence thanks to the IKO trainings and certifications.