This is it, the most anticipated kiteboarding contest of the year is days away from getting underway. The weather window for Red Bull King of the Air opens on Saturday 27 January. The event will have a two-week waiting period (closing on 11 February) and the world’s 18 best big-air riders will take each other on, only when conditions are perfect.
“Conditions need to be epic,” says Sportive Director, Sergio Cantagalli, explaining that the ideal conditions would see a Southeasterly of consistently over 25-knots, combined enough swell running for the riders to project off. “It’s an extreme big air contest, not a freestyle event, and the wind and waves need to offer the riders the opportunity to put on a big performance,” he says.
The 2018 event will take place at Kite Beach in Blouberg. 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.
A rider who will unfortunately be unable to take to the skies this year is 2017 defending champion Nick Jacobsen. Jacobsen broke his ankle in a big crash recently and is out of the water for approximately 4 months. “I’m pretty bummed I’m not able to try and defend my title. I unfortunately broke my ankle kiteboarding - just two weeks before the event. We all know there’s a high risk of injury in big air kiteboarding,”says Jacobsen. “I’ll be supporting the guys all the way. May the best guy win.”
Currently the forecast looks favourable for the first week, with something possibly developing on day one (Saturday) as well as some good conditions predicted for coming Tuesday. "There is a strong possibility that conditions could be favourable on Saturday afternoon,” Cantagalli says. “At this range and considering the larger synoptic weather (hot interior) strong to near gale afternoon SE winds are expected. A current long-period southwest swell will result in a deep and well developed surf zone, which could last into the weekend. Monday afternoon and Tuesday again have some long period southwest swell and there is the prediction of some wind. Let’s see what develops.”
If you’re unable to make it down to Kite Beach for the event, every heat will be streamed live. For the latest updates, head over to http://redbullkingoftheair.com/
Full 2018 rider list (in no particular order):
Aaron Hadlow (UK); Ruben Lenten (NL); Lewis Crathern (UK); Steven Akkersdiik (NL); Lasse Walker (NL); Oswald Smith (RSA); Reno Romeu (BRA); Jerrie van de Kop (NL); Jesse Richman (USA); Kevin Langeree (NL); Aurelien Petereau (FRA); Joshua Emanuel (RSA); Marc Jacobs (NZ); Ross Dillon Player (RSA); Antonin Rangin (FRA); Sam Light (UK); Gijs Wassenaar (NL), Liam Whaley (ESP)