Let’s Break It Down: 2018 Red Bull King of the Air - Elite Watersports

Let’s Break It Down: 2018 Red Bull King of the Air

sunset on the beach with a boat and kite and flag

Red Bull king of the air logo

Red Bull links itself to some of the top athletes in the world through sponsorship. Red Bull is also known for hosting a plethora of highly respected competitions throughout the year to showcase the level of excellence within a variety of sports. As kiteboarding has taken hold of the world and truly produced some exceptional riders, Red Bull has honed in on this fact, creating an event kiteboarders from around the world strive to participate in. 

Red Bull King of the Air

Kite Beach – Blouberg, Cape Town

27 January – 11 February 2018 

King of the Air first hit the beaches of Cape Town, South Africa at Big Bay in 2013. However, the event originated in 2000 at the hallowed windsurfing spot, Ho’okipa, on the Hawaiian Islands of Maui. The event ran in Maui for five years until the major pro riders began leaning away from big air competitions and started seeking different focuses for their riding. It wasn’t until 2012 that Red Bull jumped on board for another big air event. Thanks to the powerhouse, Rueben Lenten, an extreme rider who pushes the limits of possibilities with his riding, the interest of big air riding was now back to the top of popularity within the kiteboarding scene. In association of Rueben, Red Bull hosted the Len10 Megaloop Challenge. The event took place in Cape Town on Big Bay in winds that were previously deemed “un-ridable”. King of the Air now had a clear path for a return to glory and relocated to Big Bay in Cape Town after witnessing the success of ‘Len10‘. In 2013, the Red Bull King of the Air hosted 24 of the world’s best and most extreme big air specialist. For 2018, however, the competition will relocate again; The 2018 Red Bull King of the Air will be held over Blouberg in Cape Town.

Here are some brief highlights and the first place winners from the years 2013-2018:

  • 2013: Jesse Richman took home first place after eight hours of action-packed competition.
  • 2014: Kevin Langeree won first place after going head-to-head in the ‘flag-out’ comp. format.
  • 2015: Aaron Hadlow out performed with some massive megaloops ensuring his first place victory.
  • 2016: Aaron Hadlow came back with guns blazing and reclaimed his first place spot on the podium. Also claiming the title of first ever competitor to win King of the Air twice.
  • 2017: Nick Jacobsen dethroned the previous King of the Air with his victorious first place performance.
  • 2018: Kevin Langeree returned to the first place podium after an epic performance, putting him in the category, with Aaron Hadlow, of a two-time victor.

three men spraying champagne

Kevin Langeree celebrating his 2018 First Place Victory.

Congratulations, Kevin, King of the Air!

How does this competition work exactly?

  • The judges are looking for several different key things when watching the competitors. 
  • “It’s more than big boost that riders need to pull off. Style, technique and no small amount of fearlessness play a part in high scoring, and it’s up to our hawk-eyed judges to accurately spot the differences between the maneuvers taking place. It’s going to be a hard day’s riding for the contestants.”
  • The event will only take place if the conditions are perfect. There is a two week window and the wind has to be 30-knots or more in order to move forward with the event.
  • The event is based on a “Flag-Out Competition format.
  • The judges are looking for the riders who are going as high and extreme as possible, while being in control and stylish throughout the trick. In addition they are looking at variation in the different tricks that they perform.
    • So then, to simplify the 2017 judging criteria

      • Judges will look at following categories: Extreme Big Air and Overall Impression.

        The Overall Impression of the Extreme Big Air performance scores will be determined by combining:

        70% Height

        “Go as hard and high as possible. The height in combination with extreme moves is priority, but we will also take the horizontal distance travelled in account, combined with certain powered moves.”

        30% Extremity

        “Controlled extreme high moves. Think about extremely powered and/or extremely technical, or ultimately a combination of this as long as it is performed on a proper height.”

        silhouette of someone kiteboarding in the air above the water
    • No limitation in maximum number of moves/combinations attempted per heat (including crashes) or repetitions for the same jump.
      • Only the three best tricks of the whole performance will be counted and will form part of the final result.

      • When performing repetitions of the same move, the best one will be taken in account in the final score.

      • Variety within the best three moves is a key-factor, as focus is to award the most complete “Extreme Big Air” rider.

      • A fourth score (unique score) for overall impression of the entire performance will be given at the end of the heat, this score will be determined by considering a combination of different factors such as: technical difficulty / style / variety / execution / risk / show / innovation, this will be added to the total score (and could make the difference)

      • The average of these four scores will make up the final score.

      • Tied competitors’ heat scores shall be broken in favor of the competitor with the highest single score. If the tie remains then it must be broken in favor of the second highest score. In case the tie still remains it shall be broken in favor of the rider who has the higher score of Overall Impression.

person holding a kiteboard trophy above their head

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