Cape Town’s Big Bay is ready to host the world’s finest Big Air kiteboarding professionals. Within the last 3 years, they have taken part in what is essentially thought to be the epitome of big air kiteboarding, the “Red Bull King of the Air“. Previous champions such as Aaron Hadlow, Kevin Langeree, Jesse Richman as well as others are the invitees which will take part in the iconic South African competition. The event will happen at Big Bay on Cape Town’s West Coast, on the windiest day between the 30th of January and the 14th of February. A legendary list of the best big air kiteboarding riders has been reported to attend for the 2016 championship title which includes the defending champion himself, Aaron Hadlow. Just like last year, the event expects 24 of the world’s leading aerobatic riders – the top 12 competitors in the 2015 exhibition, 4 wild card competitors as well as 8 newcomers chosen from web video competition entries. Be ready to go toe-to-toe in an exhilarating showdown of gravity-defying maneuvers and big air tricks.
On Wednesday (February 3), the “Cape Doctor” covered the iconic Table Mountain in its ‘table cloth’. The wind only came through quite late around 16:30 local time. When the waves also showed up, the best big-air kiters around the world immediately released their kites, hitting the 3-4 foot ramps at Big Bay and entertaining the devoted viewers with the tricks they had been waiting for. Finally, the Red Bull King of the Air 2016 commences!
It started out with a bang from the former South African freestyle champion Ozzy Smith, who was only outdone by pro big air rider, Lasse Walker. The two of them would progress to round 3 straight away, while those in 3rd and 4th place being religated into the Round Two elimination heats.
It’s always a challenge for riders to start in the opening heat of the event and they proved that the riders could handle the conditions and come out with something extraordinary. One of the greatest highlights of the day was Tom Herbert and his big air style. He won his heat beating Jerry van de Kop. Kevin Langeree, the former champion in 2014 and runner-up in 2015, was soaring and threw the highest air at that time which measured around 15.9 meters, according to the Woo Sports device the riders were wearing. However, he was beaten by Antonin Rangin who got the better of him due to the incredible variety on his tricks.
Other riders also stoodout in the round including the 2013 champion, Jesse Richman. The Hawaiian, known to ride using straps instead of bindings, lost his board at the onset on his signature ‘go-for-broke’ technique and needed to acquire another one from his kite caddy.
Another impressive trick was from Reno Romeo. He pulled a huge triple front roll with a number of kite loops. Remeo showed the way he was concentrating on variety in his heat in order to please all of the judges.
The ultimate heat of Round 1 included the 2015 defending champion Aaron Hadlow. The five-time world champion easily went on from where he ended a year ago by giving an incredible Megaloop KGB – a thing nobody anticipated that early. This asks the question, ‘just what else does he have up his sleeve?’
As the sun starting to set on the horizon there was just enough light to do the first 2 heats of Round 2. In round two if you do not progress to round 3 your competition is over.
The downfall of Sam Medysky was one of the greatest disappointments of the day. Day 2 will continue once the wind comes through again.
Make sure to check back for our report on Day 2 of the Red Bull King of the Air. We will leave you with a clip of Lewis Crathern’s Huge Crash. We hope he gets better soon.