Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ll be more than aware that the Red Bull King of The Air went down yesterday! Don’t panic, you didn’t miss it, we have the replay right here! And don’t panic once again, unlike previous years where they have tried to run the event in just one day this year the team are all set to run the event when the conditions allow over the two week waiting period.
So what did you miss, well if you tuned in at the start of the live stream broadcast, not much! The event was postponed, postponed again and then postponed some more… What is it with the Cape Doctor and the Red Bull King Of The Air? It seems like it’s been years since the weather has truly played ball and given us the contest we have all been waiting for!
If you missed the event check out the full replay below!
The aim for yesterdays event was to get through Round 1, the team are running a Dingle Format, something I spent a good deal of time explaining to my buddy Jim Gaunt this summer at the BKC events we ran in the UK. Essentially the first round allows the good guys to get through to Round Three and the losers battle it out in Round Two. Everyone gets a second chance, but naturally a pass through to the third round is what everyone is after!
With the wind blowing about 25 knots the flags went up and things finally got underway, good news for those who hadn’t managed to get the day off work though as they could rock up late and still see the action. Even better news for us over in the Caribbean as we somehow got the timings wrong and nearly missed it!
The King Of The Air runs a 15-minute heat format, with four riders on the water battling it out, each rider has a flag up that is associated with the colour of their bib, black, white, yellow and blue. After 9 minutes of the heat the rider deemed to be in last place has their flag lowered and they come off the water allowing the remaining three to battle it out. The three biggest tricks count to the final score, the judges are looking for height, the “extreme factor”, style and execution and lastly variation…
15 minutes might not sound like much but when the pressure is on and your are trying to get three really huge moves on the cards it can feel like a lifetime. Equally, when you are crashing out and having a bad session it passes in the blink of an eye. The Red Bull King Of The Air is without a doubt the most prestigious competition on the circuit and with thousands of spectators at the beach and watching the live stream it was finally time to get down to business!
The first heat featured some real heavy hitters with Sam Light, Steven Akkersdijk, Lasse Walker and local boy Oswald Smith all looking to progress the easy way into round three. The wind wasn’t howling, which made it tricky for the more “loop” orientated riders and Oswald Smith was stamping an early authority on proceedings.
Struggling with the light winds it was Steven Akkersdijk who was knocked out first, a blow for him as these big air events are his speciality. That left Sam Light, Lasse Walker and Oswald Smith to battle it out for the rest of the heat. In the end it was Oswald and Lasse taking the 1 and 2 with Sam Light relegated to Round Two…
Heat number two drew Tom Hebert, Youri Zoon, Jerrie Van De Kop and Willem Van De Meij to do battle. Tom is a veteran of this event and his “NewCal Style” was shining through. The heat threw up some surprises, namely Youri Zoon getting knocked out first, we wondered what the judges might have been smoking when we saw his flag lowered, they had obviously seen something we hadn’t! The other surprise was to see Mr Tom Hebert throwing megaloops, something we haven’t really seen from him before! No doubt there will be a tutorial in the next edition of Tom’s Kitchen! Newcomer Willem came third and went into Round Two whilst Jerrie joined Tom in taking the easier route straight to Round Three!
Heat three saw previous winner, Kevin Langeree, up against Oli Sweeney, Marc Jacobs and Antonin Rangin. Kevin looked dominant as you would expect, he is so smooth and so stylish in the air it looks like he is happier flying around than he is riding along! Oli Sweeney sadly succumbed to the usual competition nerves and didn’t put on a display that did him justice, he got flagged out after 9 minutes. Antonin Rangin boosted some big airs and kite loops and as a further testament to the plume of smoke from the judges hut he somehow took the 1st place spot from Kevin who came second. Marc Jacobs struggled in the less than howling winds and joined Oli in the losers round!
Heat four was arguably the heat to be in when you looked at the leader board. Nick Jacobsen is a huge name but he was up against two newcomers Gijs Wassenaar and Antoine Clerc as well as seasoned rider Reno Romeu from Brazil. Nick took the opportunity to stamp his authority on the event with a convincing 1st place in the heat. There was a lot of variety to his riding and he pulled out some signature one footers to please the crowd. Antoine got flagged out early and it was newcomer Gijs Wassenaar who went through leaving Reno in third place.
Heat five saw previous KOTA winner Jesse Richman take flight, he’s always a favourite when the wind is less than nuking as he is so small! He was joined by Lewis Crathern, Ariel Corniel and Sam Medysky. Ariel is a Naish rider from the Dominican Republic and while he pulled some nice tricks on the inside with the sun glaring off the kickers out back he struggled somewhat amongst the seasoned big air peers. Lewis Crathern was fresh from the beach commentary and looked pretty comfortable out there, Cape Town is now his second home after all and Sam was riding well too. In the end Jesse took the honours with a huge battery of ticks and some massive airs, it looked like he was riding a final not a first round!Lewis came in second, leaving Sam and Ariel in 3rd and 4th respectively.
The last heat of round one saw current KOTA champion Aaron Hadlow go up against two local boys, Graham Howes and Andries Fourie, they were joined by Alex Pastor the Spanish freestyle machine. Early on you could see Aaron was in no mood to take any chances and he opened the heat with some huge tricks. He even threw down his danger move, the kiteloop KGB, which is by far and away the most technical and extreme big air trick out there. Andries got flagged out while Alex Pastor was proving his worth and showing why he deserves to be in such a huge competition.He pulled off an impressive double dangle pass with some serious height and a perfect landing! In the end Aaron took first, Alex came second and Graham joined Andries in the losers Round Two.
So that was it, with the sun setting Round One had been completed, but the organisers weren’t happy with that, so they shifted straight to Round Two where things get serious. Just three man heats on the water, the winner takes all, the two losers go home empty handed. If your not first in this round, you’re most definitely last!
Heat Seven in Round Two saw Reno Romeu, Ariel Corniel and Graham Howes got to town, with the wind fading though the amplitude of the tricks was certainly dampened. It was Reno’s competition experience that saw him rack up the points and avoid sudden death to make it into Round Three. Ariel came a close second and Graham Howes was third but with no cigars!
Heat Eight in Round Two smacked a little bit of desperation, the wind was clearly on the way out and the sun was sitting low on the horizon. The moves were way off what we had seen in the first round and it was clear things were getting tricky. Local boy Andries Fourie used his knowledge to eek every last ounce out of the Cape Doctor to knock Sam Medysky and Antoine Clerc.
And then came Heat Nine, this was a big one, Sam Light, vs Youri Zoon vs Marc Jacobs, all of them exceedingly capable riders, each of them had a real chance to make it through to round three. However just before the heat was started the event was postponed due to a lack of wind. Just when we thought it was all over the Cape Doctor had one last puff and the boys got on the water, but halfway through the heat was called and the wind disappeared like a virgin on prom night…
So that was it, the competition is well and truly underway and we just need the wind to complete the event and crown the winner. Sadly the forecast isn’t looking too great for the next few days but there is a good chance on Sunday we should see some action. If the wind plays ball it should certainly be exciting as with the swell forecast is 4.3m at 16 seconds, which is frankly bigger than my house and more than enough to sort the men from the boys!
Keep an eye out for updates on our site for the event, when it is on we will let you know!
By Rou ChaterRou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!
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