The countdown is on for the 2021 Red Bull King of the Air! After a long wait for the biggest kiting event of the year, it’s official! We’ve got news from South Africa’s Red Bull headquarters. Read on to find out all about the upcoming event!


Who will own the sky in 2021 as a host of past champions and local favourites vie for the Red Bull King of the Air title?


After being postponed from its traditional slot early in the year, Red Bull King of the Air 2021 is back on! Now scheduled to take place at Kite Beach in Cape Town on the windiest day between 18 November and 3 December, the event will see the return of the Kings. But could there be a new heir to the throne?

The 2021 fleet was originally composed of the Top Three finishers from 2020: the winner of the Fly-To Red Bull King of the Air satellite event as well as video entrants.

The 2020 event saw Jesse Richman out-class past champions Nick Jacobsen (DEN) and Aaron Hadlow (UK) for the win. While both Jacobsen and Hadlow have confirmed participation, Richman will however be a noticeable absentee at the 2021 event. The two-time champ citing various reasons including handing over the baton to fresh talent; as well as wanting to tick another long-term goal:

“For years, I’ve wanted to combine my two favorite disciplines, Big Air with Big Waves,” the Hawaiian said in a heartfelt Instagram post.

“I’ve centered my life around King of the Air for almost a decade…. With the 2020 win, I felt a sense of accomplishment and the completion of a chapter,” he said.

“This year I’m turning down my spot at the event and giving it to the next rider in line. I’m so excited for the next generation of big air Kiteboarders to step up and show the world what they have got. No one wants to see me up on that podium again; we all want to see something new and exciting. Someone new. We are here to have fun and make the world a better place for those who come next. I welcome the next generation to step up and make us proud, to assist in the natural evolution of our sport,” he said.

Richman’s withdrawal has opened up a spot for the next reserve in line, which happened to be South African up-and-comer Michael Mac Donald. The new generation have their work cut out for them however, as also joining Jacobsen and Hadlow will be three-time King, Kevin Langeree, who won the Cold Hawaii Games in Denmark in September 2020, the only event in the Fly-To Red Bull King of the Air series that took place during the qualification period.

Along with the likes of Mac Donald there is a resounding list of other new names to look out for however, thanks to the success of the video entry process.  According to Sportive Director Sergio Cantagalli, the sport is definitely becoming younger. “We were honestly amazed and didn’t expect such a large amount of new talented riders sending in video clips,” he said.

The panel of judges selected the top video entries by judging the riders on the same criteria as they would if they were performing live during the event. The event will be broadcast live on Red Bull TV and it is important to note that Red Bull King of the Air is not ‘just’ a big air contest, but the aim is to crown the most complete big-air rider in the world. The one rider that brings the complete package of height, power, extremity, technicality, and innovation to the table on the day, will be the new King.

To get to know the previous Red Bull King of the Air winners and the event’s impact on big air kiteboarding, watch ‘Kings of the Air’ on Red Bull TV. 

For more information on the event, the participating riders and the judges, head over to 


Top two from 2020:

Nick Jacobsen (DEN)

Aaron Hadlow (GBR)

*Jesse Richman (USA) withdrawn

Fly to King of the Air qualifier:

Kevin Langeree (NED)

Rest of the fleet (in alphabetical order)

Angely Bouillot (FRA)

Tom Bridge (GBR)

Airton Cozzolino (Cape Verde)

Lewis Crathern (GBR)

Joshua Emanuel (RSA)

Arthur Guillebert (FRA)

Val Garat (FRA)

Janek Grzegorzewski (POL)

Stig Hoefnagel (NED)

Marc Jacobs (NZ)

Michael MacDonald (RSA)

Edgar Ulrich (FRA)

Giel Vlugt (NED)

Lasse Walker (NED)

Liam Whaley (ESP)

Press Release issued by: Nasiphi Mvunyiswa (Total Exposure)

On behalf of: Hayley Venter (Red Bull)

Thu 14th Oct, 2021 @ 6:00 pm

By Crystal Veness
Editor at IKSURFMAG, Crystal Veness hails from Canada but is based in South Africa. When she isn't busy kitesurfing or reporting on the latest industry news for the mag, she is kicking back somewhere at a windy kite beach or working on creative media projects.

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