Red Bull King of the Air 2016 update: First Day

Cape Town was the place to be this past Wednesday for all kitesurfers, fans of the sport and anyone who likes to be entertained. The sun was beating down and the wind had been pumping since the early morning, already drawing throngs of people to the beach for the Red Bull King of the Air. The event was only set to start at 2pm, but that didn’t stop the crowds from forming hours before. Thousands of curious spectators, photographers and media came out to show their support – each one with a Red Bull in the hand and a smile on the face. 2pm came and went with no start to the event due to not enough wind. The wind was about 18 knots for most of the day, slowly building hour by hour until about 4pm when it reached up to 30 knots – the ideal wind speed for the event.

We got to interview some of the riders shortly before they hit the water.

red bull king of the air

Kitesoul: How are you feeling about the event?

Aaron Hadlow: “I’m feeling pretty good, it’s the perfect day for it. Its gunna get windy later on. They will probably only do one round today and then finish it off on the next big wind day – it’s take a long time because there are a lot of heats in the beginning. I’m in Cape Town three months in total and then I’m back to Europe.”

red bull king of the air

Nick Jacobsen: “Well, we need some more wind. Hopefully it’s gunna pick up, the clouds over the mountain look pretty promising so hopefully it’s gunna pick up and we can start the event. I’m in Cape Town for two months in total and then next I am going to Maui for a photo shoot. I would have loved to stay longer! I think everyone will be good competition, but I’m keeping an eye out for Reno.”

red bull king of the air

Oswald Smith: “So we’re at the Red Bull Kind of the Air, the wind’s pumping, the forecast looks insane. I’m in the first heat of the event, so I’m stressing, I’m not gunna lie. I’m feeling the tension but I’m excited to get out on the water, I’m gunna give it my all.”

All three of these riders managed to come in the top 2 in each of their heats, which takes them directly to the next round. Oswald Smith, one of the youngest riders and also one of the 3 South Africans, pleased the crowd and judges with his stylish kiteloops. He came 2nd in his heat, despite a huge crash which broke the boot of his bindings right off his board just minutes before the end of the heat. Nick Jacobsen was in the 4th heat and as usual, his well-executed mega-loops and fearless style got him a 1st place and through to the next round. Aaron Hadlow was in the last heat. By this time the wind had picked up even more and he got to wow the crowds with his signature mega-loop KGB, which he performed effortlessly. To no one’s surprise, he came first in the heat.  The atmosphere on the beach that day was tangible; from the screaming and cheering crowds to the flags from around the world being waved frantically.

We also spoke to Tyrone Rawlins, one of the event organisers and commentators.

Kitesoul: What are your predictions for the day?

TR – “Today we are waiting for the wind to pick up. We are going to run round 1 so we can wait until about 4pm to start the first heat. The conditions are a little bit light at the moment . But you can see from the white caps on the sea and the clouds over Table Mountain that we should be getting started soon. For now Sunday looks ideal, looks like we’re gunna get 25-30 knot winds which is obviously what we want for the final so we are all holding thumbs that that wind forecast stays and holds strong.”

For now we wait in anticipation for the next round. We trust that Cape Town will deliver as she always does, with gale-force winds and a bright shining sun. The jumps will be higher than before and we may even experience some never before seen tricks.

Michelle Hayward