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KOTA Red Bull Red Bull King of The Air 2018

Red Bull King of the Air 2018

On January 26, 2018   |   By kiteworldmag.com

The countdown to Red Bull King of the Air 2018 has begun

Intro: Kiteworld’s Jim Gaunt and Matt Pearce will be heading up the official livestream this year at the Red Bull King of the Air and the event begins tomorrow at Kite Beach. Get the inside line on the most epic event in kiteboarding right here!

 

The most anticipated contest of the year has officially been given the green light and the 2018 event will take place at Kite Beach in Blouberg.Event Director Sergio Cantagalli and his team feel the move from Big Bay will give riders an even better chance to perform at the highest level in the best conditions, putting on an epic show for the crowds.

A rider who will unfortunately be unable to take to the skies this year is 2017 defending champion Nick Jacobsen. He broke his ankle just two weeks ago and is out of the water for approximately 4 months. Im pretty bummed Im not able to try and defend my title. We all know theres a high risk of injury in big air kiteboarding,says Jacobsen. Ill be supporting the guys all the way though. May the best guy win!

Watch the three-day forecast, with previous winner Kevin Langeree and friends here

 

See the final rider’s list below!

 

 

 

AARON HADLOW (UK)

AGE: 29

SPONSORS: North Kiteboarding, ION, Red Bull

SIGNATURE MOVE: Megaloop KGB

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

KITESURFING SINCE: 2000

TURNED PRO: 2003

HOME SPOT: Hayling Island, UK

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 5 x PKRA World Freestyle Champion, 2 x King of the Air

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Was injured in 2013, but competed at all the others

KOTA RESULTS: 5th 2014, 1st 2015, 1st 2016, 2nd 2017

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Automatic entry in top 9

The only 2x KOTA winner and a rider that many have proclaimed the greatest of all time, Aaron Hadlow has a competitive record like no other and is a 5 time World Champion and without question one of the most influential riders in our sport. After such a successful career, Aaron doesn’t enter every competition any more, but picks the ones he enjoys most so in the last two years we’ve seen him compete on the World Kiteboarding League freestyle tour, the Kite Park League wakestyle tour and of course he’s the only rider to win two Red Bull King of the Air titles. He just missed out on his hat trick last year, losing to Nick Jacobsen in the final in dying winds, but this year, after 18 years practicing big air at Kite Beach in Cape Town, he is looking forward to competing at this new competition venue. Of all the riders in this contest, he’s the one that outwardly appears the most calm and collected about it all, but you can be sure that all his competitive and tactical senses are firing at full steam on the inside.

 

 

 

RUBEN LENTEN (NL)

AGE: 29

SPONSORS: Len10, Mystic, Red Bull.

SIGNATURE MOVE: Megaloop

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

KITESURFING SINCE: 1999

TURNED PRO: 2005

HOME SPOT: Originally Noordwijk, Netherlands

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Runner-up PKRA World Tour mid 2000s, 2nd King of the Air 2014 and 3rd 2017

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: As the instigator of all things extreme, Ruben has been in each event, except the 2016 contest when he was undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

KOTA RESULTS: 9th 2013, 2nd 2014, 7th 2015, 3rd 2017

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Automatic entry in top 9

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Ruben managed to bravely reach the KOTA podium last year after an incredible come back from intense chemotherapy and specialist treatment to beat cancer. In his early career Ruben was a regular podium finisher on the freestyle World Championship tour, but when he became disillusioned with the direction of the riding, he focused all his attention on developing a new style extreme big air, including the awesome mega loop and he went to all corners of the world to find the strongest winds possible to train in. Cape Town has always been his favourite spot and in 2012 he worked with Red Bull to launch the Len10 Mega Loop Challenge at Big Bay the pre-cursor to the full re-launch of the King of the Air. Now back to his incredible best and super fit, Ruben is back to chasing storms and creating inspiring media, showing the world what’s possible with a strong, positive, mental attitude. Another year fitter and highly focused, expect the most radical fireworks when Ruben hits the water with no deviation from his vision for a locked-in, always powerful, radical and fully committed style of riding that consistently risks consequence.

 

 

STEVEN AKKERSDIJK (NL)

AGE: 24

SPONSORS: Core kites, Carved boards, Mystic

SIGNATURE MOVE: Kite Low Mega Loop

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

KITESURFING SINCE: 2007

TURNED PRO: 2014

HOME SPOT: Workum, Netherlands

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Dutch National freestyle champion 2015, 1st Redbull boven N.A.P. 2012, 2nd Redbull Megaloop 2017, 3rd Redbull King of the Air 2014

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Done every event, along with Lewis Crathern and Reno Romeu.

KOTA RESULTS: 17th 2013, 3rd 2014, 5th 2015, 21st 2016, 4th 2017

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Automatic entry in top 9

Hooked on big air from the start, Steven has one of the most distinguished and recognisable styles you’ll see on the water. Preferring to go with slightly shorter lines than most of the other riders (around 19 metres) he enjoys the more aggressive and hardcore nature that shorter lines make his kite loop, often slingshotting him higher than his kite when it loops. He always seems so at one with his gear in that respect and for sure this year his connection and fluidity will be one step beyond what we’ve seen from him before. He’s looking forward to the more constant winds and bigger kickers that we should see at Kite Beach and that his particular style of kiting benefits from. A KOTA podium finisher and regular high place finisher in the Mega Loop challenge, Steven’s a constant threat and has already been training in Cape Town for a few months. He always looks totally at ease with the conditions.

 

 

 

LASSE WALKER (NL)

AGE: 22

SPONSORS: North Kiteboarding

SIGNATURE MOVE: Kite Loop Late Back Roll

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

KITESURFING SINCE: 2007

TURNED PRO: 2016

HOME SPOT: Noordwijk, Netherlands.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 1st Red Bull Megaloop Challenge 2015 and 3rd in 2017. 4th King of the Air 2016

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Competing since 2015

KOTA RESULTS: 13th= 2015, 5th 2016 (exited contest after big crash), 4th 2017

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Automatic entry in top 9

PRE-HEAT MUSIC CHOICE: During the day just anything that keeps my mind off kiteboarding and the competition. Just before the heat I listen to music that gives me lots of energy – like real hard rap, rock or house music!

Still relatively young considering the years of experience across the top riders in the big air game, Lasse spent the time before he properly learnt to kitesurf in 2007 flying a little two metre trainer kite on the beach while watching Kevin Langeree and Ruben Lenten develop their skills on the water at his home beach at Noordwijk. Clearly inspired to go big from the start, flying high has always been Lasse’s focus. As such, after finishing his studies in November 2016 and only fully turning pro just after that, he’s rapidly accelerated his achievements to win the cult Red Bull Mega Loop Challenge in Holland in 2015 and since his first KOTA in 2015, has always automatically qualified. In 2016 he ended up in hospital alongside Lewis Crathern after an incredibly heavy landing, but recovered well and got straight back to training for the next year.

He says of this year’s event that he’s most looking forward to seeing the riding level of everyone on the day, that it’s insane how much we learn in a year with the risks involved.

 

 

 

LEWIS CRATHERN (UK)

AGE: 32

SPONSORS: North Kiteboarding, WOO, Windguru, BBTalkin, LiP Sunglasses

SIGNATURE MOVE: The Nebulizer

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

KITESURFING SINCE: 2005

TURNED PRO: 2008

HOME SPOT: Worthing, UK.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 1st Len10 Megaloop Challenge 2012, 4 x British Champion, UK Woo record holder until 2017

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Competing since 2013 and done every event along with Steven Akkersdijk and Reno Romeu.

KOTA RESULTS: 5th 2013, 17th 2014, 9th 2015, 7th 2016, 4th 2017

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Automatic entry in top 9

Lewis is a key figure in the big air scene and has been travelling to Cape Town for the summer season for years, so he knows Kite Beach and the Cape Doctor winds inside out. Having recovered incredibly well after his big crash in 2016, he returned to the contest in 2017, somehow riding even more cleanly and with more obvious intent to finish equal 4th. This year his focus has deepened further still, while at the same time the coaching and commentating side of his career have also gone from strength to strength. An ever popular character within the big air circle amongst all the riders, Lewis has unrivalled knowledge of what ittakes to go big and seamlessly blends powered riding with his smooth, controlled style and impressive technical ability. He will be bringing a wealth of big air experience to the fore in this years King of The Air!

 

 

 

OSWALD SMITH (RSA)

AGE: 21

SPONSORS: Airush Kiteboarding, Billabong

SIGNATURE MOVE: Kung-Foo Handle-Pass

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

HOME SPOT: Strand, Cape Town

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 4 x SA Champion, regular top ten finisher in all international kiteboarding disciplines, from racing to freestyle to wave.

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Competing since 2013

KOTA RESULTS: 13th 2013, 21st 2014, 25th 2015, 13th 2016, 7th 2017

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Automatic entry in top 9

One of the top names in South African kiteboarding and one of the most impressive all-rounders in the sport today, Ozzie is a Cape Town native who has travelled a lot, putting in some strong competitive performances on various world tours. Hes won the South African open 4 times and has even turned his hand to slalom in the past with a 3rd place finish on the world stage in 2013. Whether it’s big air, racing, wave riding or freestyle, Ozzie only knows how to ride one way: to go hard or go home. He held his head together well last year to record his best KOTA finish to date. If he can keep cool and maintain focus throughout, this local favourite is definitely one to watch.

 

 

 

RENO ROMEU (BRA)

AGE: 27

SPONSORS: North Kiteboarding, Wllner wear

SIGNATURE MOVE: Mega Loop Late Roll

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

KITESURFING SINCE: 2002

TURNED PRO: 2008

HOME SPOT: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Guinness World Record holder / 4th Overall PKRA 2009

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Competing since 2013 and done every event along with Steven Akkersdijk and Lewis Crathern

KOTA RESULTS: 21st 2013, 9th 2014, 13th 2015, 4th 2016, 7th 2017

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Automatic entry in top 9

Reno was one of the most consistent and well-rounded riders on the PKRA World Freestyle tour for over a decade and brings with him a vast wealth of competition experience, which you can see he’s put to good use while competing at every King of the Air. Each year his results progressively improved, peaking with 4th in 2016 after reaching the 4 man final. Reno’s a busy man with his own TV series in Brazil that’s based around his kitesurfing adventures and travel. His home spot in Rio doesn’t offer the kind of big air training needed for this event, but such is Reno’s natural ability, he gets himself back into the groove with just a few days training in the week before this event and will be looking as clean as ever this year. He says that he’s most looking forward to riding in really strong winds again. I count the days to come to Cape Town and kite with the best conditions for big air. I love the wind here and think it’s the best place in the world for big jumps!

 

 

 

 

JERRIE VAN DE KOP (NL)

AGE: 23

SPONSORS: RRD, Merrell

SIGNATURE MOVE: Kite Loops

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

AGE: 23

KITESURFING SINCE:

HOME SPOT: Schellinkhout, Netherlands

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Multiple Dutch Champion, 3rd KOTA 2015

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Competing in three events since 2013

KOTA RESULTS: 9th 2014, 3rd 2015, 7th 2016

QUALIFIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Automatic entry in top 9

Jerrie van de Kop stormed his way to 3rd place in 2015- a very respectable finish given that he shared that podium with none other than Aaron Hadlow and Kevin Langeree. A towering figure, he rides with a fluid, powered style which he brings across from many years competing on the world freestyle tour. We hope to see more big things from him in this years event as he’s been training hard here throughout December and January, combining a very high level of technical skill with a fearless approach to boosting and throwing megaloops.

 

WILD CARDS

 

 

JESSE RICHMAN (USA)

AGE: 25

SPONSORS: Naish Kiteboarding, Skycatch, Xensr, Ride Engine, Thirst Project

SIGNATURE MOVE: Kiteloop Double Half-Cab

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

KITESURFING SINCE: 2002

TURNED PRO: 2005

HOME SPOT: Maui

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 2 x World Champion, King of the Air 2013, Hangtime world record of 22 seconds, 2 x AWSI (USA) Rider of the Year, 722 foot tow-up (world record until Nick Jacobsen went higher this year)

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Competing since 2013 but missed last year through injury

KOTA RESULTS: 1st 2013, 5th 2014, 4th 2015, 2nd 2016

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Wildcard

A seemingly unstoppable force of nature and one of the true characters of our sport, Jesses riding is always at the extreme end of the spectrum and whether hes charging at Jaws (and becoming the first kiteboarder to ever get barrelled there in the process), or taking on the biggest wave ever kitesurfed at Nazarre, or sending absolutely insane kiteloops, his riding is always nail biting to watch. Hes been a part of the King of The Air since the start (only missing last year through injury) and, with his all or nothing riding style, took home the win in 2013 before being stretchered off in 2014 and then coming back after a serious injury in 2015 to still make it into the final. In the last two years his focus has incorporated a total training regime of fitness and strength of both the body and mind. He’s now an accomplished freediver and a self-confessed friend of fear. It drives him. Still just 25, Jesse has become one of the most established all-round extreme watermen athletes in the world. A fool would dismiss him from making the final and pushing for the win this year. He’s also one of the riders that most other competitors like to watch. That perhaps says all you need to know!

 

 

 

KEVIN LANGEREE (NL)

AGE: 29

SPONSORS:

SIGNATURE MOVE: Big Board-off

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

KITESURFING SINCE: 2000

TURNED PRO: 2003

HOME SPOT: Noordwijk, Netherlands

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 2009 freestyle world champion, 2014 King of the Air, 2015 Big air World Champion.

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Since 2013 but missed last year through injury

KOTA RESULTS: 7th 2013, 1st 2014, 2nd 2015, 3rd 2016

QUALIFIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Wildcard

You may be surprised to see one of the King of the Air’s most consistent performers qualifying as a wild card this year, but he missed last year’s event having broken his ankle while training pre-event for the infamous board-off kite loop: a much talked about move that is yet to be seen in the competition.

As well as now also competing on the GKA Kite-Surf Wave World Tour, when it comes to KOTA, Kevin is the ultimate crowd pleaser, holding immense power in his kite and is able to absolutely send it to the sky. But he’s not just a showman, he mixes incredible all-round technical mastery from his perfectly honed board-offs, to tweaked inverted rolls that he mixes with his kite loops. He’s perhaps not as much about all-out kite low kite loops, but Kevin’s repertoire gives him more range and options than most riders. Add to that, he just never seems to fall, so being the riding machine he is, he also never seems to tire.

As usual Kevin’s already been in Cape Town for a couple of months to prepare himself for battle. We’ve seen a few riders training for the board-off kite loop this season. Will Kevin be the one to put those demons to rest and use it to claim another title? Whatever happens, he just can’t wait for the event to kick off, hear the crowd scream when he’s 25+ metres high and also seeing all his friends push it to the max.

 

VIDEO ENTRIES

 

 

AURELIEN PETREAU (FRA)

AGE: 34

SPONSORS: F-One

SIGNATURE MOVE: Megaloop Board-Off

JOB: Kitesurfing coach and Real Estate investor

HOME SPOT: Erdeven France

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Debut in 2017

KOTA RESULTS: 16th 2017

QUALIFIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Video contest

Aurelian created a huge buzz when he made his debut in the competition last year with his dazzling display of old school board-off spins and great height and control. He has since seemingly added the infamous megaloop board-off to his repertoire and if he can mix true power moves with his technical, more traditional big air approach, it could be just the all-round heat impression that the judges are looking for. The oldest competitor in the competition, Aurelien will certainly get the crowd behind him and on their feet!

 

 

JOSHUA EMANUEL (RSA)

AGE: 29

SPONSORS: Core, Mystic and Xtreme Xccessories

SIGNATURE MOVE: Megaloop Late Back Roll

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

KITESURFING SINCE: 2004

TURNED PRO: 2016

HOME SPOT: Durban, South Africa

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: SA Wave Champ 2017, Red Bull Mega Loop Challenge winner 2017, Top of Woo World Height leaderboard

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Once in 2012

KOTA RESULTS: 12th 2015

QUALIFIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Video contest

After finishing his business management and entrepreneurship studies, Joshua Emanuel has taken the big air kitesurfing world by storm since turning full pro in 2016. Basing himself in Cape Town for the wind season, he’s constantly taking to the skies and blasted himself to the top of the WOO world leaderboard in 2017 with two whopping record breaking boosts, with his most recent record being 28.9 metres. He also won the super competitive Red Bull Mega Loop Challenge in Holland on his debut year in 2017. At the time that the contest was called on, Josh was competing in Mauritius in the waves at the GKA Kite-Surf World Tour, but he quickly downed tools when he was told he had 24 hours to get to the event. Clearly a good sleeper on a plane he was crowned Mega Loop Challenge champion and truly flies the flag for South African big air chargers. Incredibly strong and carrying an impressive high wind quiver of tools tuned for Cape Town, no one is going to want to face him in a heat. His favourite riders are Nick and Jesse.

 

 

MARC JACOBS (NZ)

AGE: 28

SPONSORS: Switch, Mystic, Carl’s Jr.

SIGNATURE MOVE: Megaloop KGB

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

KITESURFING SINCE: 2005

TURNED PRO: 2011

HOME SPOT: Auckland, New Zealand

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 2nd overall 2013 PKRA Freestyle World Tour, 2nd overall for 2015 big air VKWC

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Once in 2016

KOTA RESULTS: 7th 2016

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Video contest

Marc Jacobs is one of the most powerful freestyle riders in the sport and in 2016 he managed to transfer that controlled but explosive aggression into the King of the Air contest. Unfortunately he had a gear malfunction when his kite got a puncture just before his heat and he had to borrow a kite from Reno, but couldn’t adjust quickly enough and ride to the best of his ability. Fully fit and having been training in Wellington in New Zealand, which he reckons is one of the windiest places on earth, he’s feeling confident to go further and truly show everyone what he’s capable of.

Years of high level competition experience, mixed with a cool nature and an ability to really mix in all styles of big air riding, from boosts, to loops to technical passes like the megaloop KGB, Marc is going to be disappointed if he finishes outside of the top five, but he says he’s excited because everyone is going to be so good to watch this year.

 

 

ROSS-DILLON PLAYER (RSA)

AGE: 18

SPONSORS: Core Kites, Mystic

SIGNATURE MOVE: Boogie Loop

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

KITESURFING SINCE: 2014

TURNED PRO: 3 months ago!

HOME SPOT: Kite Beach, Cape Town

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Q-finals Red Bull Mega Loop Challenge 2018

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Debut year

KOTA RESULTS: Debut year

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Video contest

The youngest rider in the competition is already a home town hero for qualifying for the event and truly representing the Kite Beach crew. Ross has only just finished school and been able to fully focus on his kitesurfing, but he’s already catching the eye, not only as a quarter finalist last year at the Mega Loop Challenge in Holland, but because he’s one of the friendliest, most respectful and humble young riders in the sport.

Super-focused on extreme big air riding, he’s got the clinical boogie loop in the bag, and if he can consistently throw big ones in his heats it should help him progress. Alongside that he has an intimate knowledge of conditions, the exuberance of youth and full beach support could propel him far in the competition. His favourite rider is Lewis Crathern.

 

 

ANTONIN RANGIN (FRA)

AGE: 27

SPONSORS: North Kiteboarding, ION, Blankforce, Leech, PMX Design

SIGNATURE MOVE: Big Air

KITE SCHOOL OWNER: Chatel Kite School

HOME SPOT: Chatelaillon beach, new La Rochelle, France

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Multiple podiums Junior French Championship in the early days, 2nd R Kite Party 2010, 1st FestiKite 2016

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Three: 2015 – 2017

KOTA RESULTS: 9th 2015, 13th 2016, 13th 2017

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Video contest

Antonin has been a fantastic rider to watch in the King of the Air for the last few years and has consistently achieved a mid-place finish thanks to an explosive style and anything goes approach. One of the few non-pro riders in the contest, he represents the hopes that this competition offers to amateur rippers who fancy their chances through the video contest. He’s hoping to repeat his 2015 performance and to make the top nine this year for automatic entry next year and says that he’s looking forward to seeing Jesse and Aurelien ride in particular, but that all the riders are crazy to watch… and that he will be watching all rounds because we do not get to see the best compete like this very often!

His secret weapon is to listen to the same music track before his heats that he’s listened to for the last three contests ‘Stupeflip Vite’. Check it out!

 

SAM LIGHT (UK)

AGE: 27

SPONSORS: Slingshot, Wind Voyager, ONeill, Ride Engine and Snugs Earphones

SIGNATURE MOVE: The Big Belter

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

KITESURFING SINCE: 2003

TURNED PRO: 2007

HOME SPOT: Hayling Island

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 3rd place King of the air, 4x Triple S Champion, 2 x KPL Champion, 2x British Champion

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Competed in each event, except 2017

KOTA RESULTS: 3rd 2013, 13th 2014, 7th 2015, 17th 2016

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Video contest

Sam has good credentials at this event having finished on the podium on the King of the Air’s return to Cape Town in 2013 and he’s then been a regularly KOTA competitor only missing last year because of an event clash with the Kite Park League World Tour for which he was shooting for his second title on the trot… and eventually won. He’s the most successful ‘wakestyle parkstyle’ rider in the sport, having won more Triple-S invitational events than any other rider.

Sam is also a master at maintaining presence of mind and tactical prowess… and all the while just looks impossibly relaxed. But make no mistake, he’s a fearsome competitor and has bags of confidence when it comes to sending dirty kite loops off big kickers. He’s also the only rider so far to nail mega loops with multiple back rotations. Will that be enough to propel him back to the podium?

If it’s not, Sam’s reputation as one of the most all-round ‘freestyle’ riders and successful competition winners will remain in tact with high respect as he aims to take down his third KPL title on the bounce in 2018.

 

 

GIJS WASSENAAR (NL)

AGE: 23

SPONSORS:

SIGNATURE MOVE: Megaloop Double Late Roll

PRO RIDER AND MARKETING MANAGER LIEUWE BOARDS

KITESURFING SINCE: 2006

HOME SPOT: Langeveldeslag, Netherlands

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 1st Woo Sport contest Zandvoort 2015, 9th KOTA 2016, 9th Megaloop Challenge 2015

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Four time competitor

KOTA RESULTS: 19th= 2015, 9th 2016

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: Video contest

Yet another Dutchmen, Gijs is coming into his prime in terms of age and experience. Gijs rode hard at both the 2014 and 2015 Red Bull Megaloop Challenge events in the Netherlands and held the Dutch WOO height record in 2015 with a jump of 19.1 meters. Big, powerful and riding new gear this year, including a kite that’s proved itself as one of the most successful weapons at the King of the Air the North Vegas Gijs will be looking at least towards the semi finals. And from there, it’s anybody’s game!

 

Liam Whaley - Brunotti 2016 - PHOTO: Toby Bromwich

 

LIAM WHALEY (ESP)

AGE: 21

SPONSORS: Cabinha, Brunotti

FULL TIME PRO RIDER

KITESURFING SINCE: 2005

TURNED PRO: 2012

HOME SPOT: Tarifa

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: 2015 World Freestyle Champion. Runner-up in 2014 and 2017

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Debut year

KOTA RESULTS: Debut year

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: 1st reserve rider, replacing Nick Jacobsen (injured)

The calibre of stand-in reserve riders couldn’t be better reflected with 2015 World Champion, Liam Whaley. Although Liam hasn’t competed in big air before, and sees it as a back-up option to his freestyle contest career, he loves the adrenaline from this side of the sport and gets his fair share of high wind experience living in Tarifa and riding at Balneario in the famous Levante winds. Liam is young, strong and highly technical, so should have no problem adjusting to the competition, but the relentless demand for huge tricks is quite different to the precise technicality of freestyle. But, as he says, this is the first event for a long time in which he feels there’s no pressure on him. Riders who approach contests like that are usually very dangerous to come up against!

 

Red Bull King of the Air entry Video

 

GRAHAM HOWES (RSA)

SPONSORS: Cabrinha, Dirty Habits

HOME SPOT: Cape Town

KING OF THE AIR COMPETITIONS: Four time competitor

KOTA RESULTS: 17th 2013, 21st 2014, 17th 2016, 10th 2017

QUALIFIED THIS YEAR VIA: 2nd Reserve Rider

Another local rider and a staunch figure on the big air scene here in Cape Town, Graham Howes riding speaks for itself and his Cabrinha team mate, Nick Jacobsen, thinks Grahams kiting is nothing short of insane. When its blowing hard at Kite Beach, hell often be seen on a bigger kite than most riders going big into massive loops with maximum commitment and, as one of the only riders in the event who lives and rides in Cape Town all year round, Graham has perhaps more experience than anyone in the challenging Cape Doctor winds and you can expect to him holding nothing back during the event.

 

If you’re not in Cape Town and can’t watch the event in the flesh then tune into the livestream at www.redbullkingoftheair.com

The post Red Bull King of the Air 2018 appeared first on Kiteworld Magazine | The original international kitesurfing magazine.