Red Bull King Of The Air Day 2 Full Report!
This event is turning into more of a soap opera than we could have ever imagined! Never before in the events history has it become such a drawn out train wreck of waiting around and running heats in marginal conditions… So here is a round up of what you missed, or perhaps didn’t miss today.
Firstly don’t panic, you didn’t miss a really well polished live stream of the event, Red Bull pulled the plug on that yesterday, you can read all about that episode here! However, the event was scheduled to run today as it was the last day of the waiting period, so today was a case of hoping and praying for wind so we could finally close the chapter on this years event.
Yet in the true form of the last two weeks the wind once again didn’t play ball! It was late, very late with the first heats kicking off just after 5pm! Sadly the odds were firmly stacked against the organisers to get this thing finished from the get go. The wind was light too, around 22 knots, hardly the stuff needed for the King Of The Air, but the riders are the best in the world and sometimes you just have to make do to get the event run!
Round 2 was fired through in quick succession, there were three riders in each heat, these were the guys who hadn’t progressed in Round 1. Round 2 boiled down to a total of 4 heats, and 12 riders fighting over just 4 places in Round 3. Joshua Emanuel went up against Tieme Rietveld and Luke McGillewie in the first heat.
The wind was light and gusty and it was a testament to the guys who rode really well and put on a solid display. In the end it was the local boy Joshua Emanuel who impressed the judges with his jumps and tricks, variety helping to push him through the tricky heat.
As we went into Heat number 8 it looked like local knowledge was going to be an advantage as Andries Fourie despatched Alexandre Neto and Johnno Scholte with a display of big jumps and a couple of nice kite loops. The wind was building and the excitement at the contest site was heating up, could we finally be getting the conditions we were waiting for?
UK hero Sam Light was next up in Round 2 and managed to pull off some decent loops in the light winds to see off Gianni Aragno and Kevin De Smidt. In the last heat of the second round it was wild card Lasse Walker who shined as Nico Etienne and Sam Medysky just couldn’t do enough to pull off the win.
Big day today at the #kingoftheair! So pleased I won two tough heats in a row today to put myself into the semi finals! I even learnt a new trick… The wind was still light but we all had to make the most of what we had.. They cancelled the semis half way through as the wind was too light, they will finish the competition tomorrow afternoon! – Sam Light
With Round 2 despatched in lightning fashion it was straight into Round 3 and the quarterfinals as the sun started to stoop low on the horizon. This is the stage of the event where the losers meet the winners so to speak as the top two from Round 1 had advanced straight into Round 3. It was basically time to bring out the big guns!
First up Billy Parker and Ruben Lenten went up against Steven Akkersdijk and Andries Fourie. Billy had impressed the judges in Round 1 with his board offs and kite loops whilst everybody’s favourite hellman Ruben Lenten was riding boots and looking to get level with his kite. The wind had now filled in to a reasonable 25 knots with some stringer gusts coming through, but it was still tough out there.
Making love with Mother Nature isn’t as easy as it sounds! Sitting, waiting and wishing for wind the whole day. We were able to run some heats late in the afternoon again and tomorrow we will continue the comp. Semi finals and finals tomorrow. It better be windy! – Ruben Lenten
Steven Akkersdijk pulled off some of his trademark kiteloops but with the gusty winds he had some heavy crashes too. Andries and Billy put their all into the heat and we saw some great hangtime from these guys but in the end it was Ruben Lenten the king of the mega loop who scored the first place in the semis with Steven taking the other spot in semi final number 2.
Heat number 12 saw Jesse Richman pitted against Dutchman Jerrie Van De Kop, Antonin Rangin from France and local hero Joshua Emanuel. Jesse looked on fire once again and proved that he really is a master of these tough conditions. He was boosting huge; no doubt helped by being so light! Antonin Rangin had all the Frenchies on the beach cheering for him but he and Joshua Emanuel bowed out to Jerrie Van De Kop who secured the other spot in the semi final.
Next up was the heat that nobody wanted to be in. Lasse Walker had made it through the losers round to get into this heat and he would be forgiven for being scared. Going up against the 5x world champion Aaron Hadlow, last years King, Kevin Lageree and big air and old school master Tom Hebert was not going to be an easy task.
Aaron looked on fire in this heat pulling off some big jumps with solid hangtime and getting one of the biggest jumps of the day with a leap of 9m! Kevin Langeree also looked busy too despite his injured hand he was getting some solid tricks in and some nice board off manoeuvres that obviously impressed the judges. Tom Hebert likes to ride powered up, but sadly the wind wasn’t allowing Tom to perform at his usual level, he and Lasse bowed out to Aaron who won the heat and Kevin who took the second place spot.
Next up it was the last heat of Round 3 with UK riders Lewis Crathern and Sam Light taking on Brazilian Reno Romeu and the Danish comedian Nick Jacobsen! With plenty of Brits over in South Africa there was a ton of support for the UK guys and especially Lewis who has been entertaining the crowds for the whole event with his commentary on the beach.
Lewis put on a great show and got one of the biggest jumps of the day at 8.9m but couldn’t quite do enough to beat Sam Light who was consistently pulling off some great kiteloops with rotations and some decent jumps too. Nick Jacobsen who was riding in straps rather than boots used that advantage to mix up his repertoire and take the other spot in the semi final. Reno tried his best but never looked totally comfortable in the constantly dropping winds.
With Round 3 rushed through the light was fading fast, by now the ghetto live stream that had been set up after we called for it yesterday was looking more like an episode of “The Sky At Night” than a kitesurfing competition. The flags on the beach were starting to look limper than a spilled plate of spaghetti in an Italian restaurant, things were not boding well for a finish…
The show must go on though, as they say, and now the race was on to by complete the Semi Finals. Dutchmen Ruben Lenten and Kevin Langeree were facing off against Jesse Richman and Nick Jacobsen. With the failing winds Jesse had to be a favourite to take this one going on his previous performances.
He came out of the gate firing with an impressive display of old school and new school tricks, even chucking out some handlepasses as the sun disappeared from view! Ruben Lenten was also looking keen to get into the final too pulling some risky megaloops in the tricky conditions. Nick Jacobsen had a couple of nasty crashes but was pushing hard and Kevin was riding well too, as the heat drew on though it became apparent the wind was leaving the event site. The jumps were getting smaller and it was getting darker.
With the heat over Jesse and Ruben were called as the winners and put through to the final. The second Semi Final was called into the arena, it was Holland vs England, and the Brits were hoping it wouldn’t go the way of the 1994 World Cup Qualifier that saw England lose 2-nil! Sam Light and Aaron Hadlow were up against Steven Akkersdijk and Jerrie Van De Kop.
What a wild day, stoked we were able to put on a show in the less then ideal conditions… I had 2 awesome heats and am ready for tomorrow. We only got 3 heats to run, 2 semi’s and one final. Hard when mother nature makes it tricky but that’s the way it goes and what we have to deal with… – Jesse Richman – Philosophical as ever about having to re run a heat he won!
By the time the heat started though it was almost impossible to see, night vision goggles would have been a welcome advantage and some kind of wind generator would have helped too. It got so bad Sam Light crashed his kite and couldn’t even relaunch it, whilst everyone else was struggling to stay upwind and even the master, Aaron Hadlow could only manage a few pops off the waves.
The sun had well and truly set on the site of the Red Bull King Of The Air and it soon became apparent this event was not going to get completed in the fashion it deserved! A flag was raised on the beach, it might have been red but it was so dark we couldn’t see! Then the announcement from the commentators; the organisers had decided to call an end to the farce that was the last semi and plump for more wind tomorrow.
A good call, extending the waiting period by yet another day, but at least giving the riders a chance to compete in some decent wind, rather than struggle to keep a kite in the air…
So that’s it, that’s what you missed today through the lack of a live stream, far from ideal conditions from the event, but with the window drawing to a close there was nothing else to do but try and push things forward!
The plan is to re run both semi finals, so Jesse and Ruben will be battling it out again and Nick and Kevin get a stay of execution and another chance to ride tomorrow. The other Semi was never finished so tomorrow we have a tantalising prospect ahead of us. Hopefully we will get some decent wind and Ruben Lenten, Kevin Langeree, Jesse Richman and Nick Jacobsen can fight again for two places in the Final whilst Aaron Hadlow, Sam Light, Steven Akkersdijk and Jerrie Van De Kop battle it out for the other two places. It could turn out to be quite a day!
Sadly though the event has been a huge drain on everybody this year including Red Bull’s resources, the riders and all the people behind the scenes. I feel absolutely shattered just trying to follow what has been going on and relaying that information back to you. Everybody seems to have worked so hard, yet at every step of the way they have been thwarted by the wind.
This event will so very nearly be remembered as #livestreamgate but far more likely to be remembered as #capedoctorgate for at the end of the day we are always at the mercy of the weather, and this time if hasn’t played ball! Lets hope tomorrow gives the riders and all the people involved everything they have wished for!
Sat 14th Feb, 2015 @ 8:52 pm
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