Every year Cape Town and her prolific South-Easter play host the world’s best kiteboarders. For the past four years, they have competed in what is largely considered to be the pinnacle of big-air kiteboarding, Red Bull King of the Air.
With the Red Bull King of the Air competition due to take place at Big Bay on the windiest days between the 21st of January and 5th of February 2017, an epic list of riders has been announced to compete for the title.
Back once again and in the hunt for an unprecedented hat-trick is Aaron Hadlow (GBR).
“The crowd and fans makes this event,” says the two-time defending champ. “It feels like the whole kiteboarding community is watching and excited about it.”
“So many people are interested and in the past two years I have gained such a following and exposure from the wins, which really showed me just how big the event has become,” adds Hadlow.
Hadlow won’t have it all his own way in 2017 however, with past champs Jesse Richman (USA) and Kevin Langeree (NED), both finalists in 2016, also back once again.
The 2017 event will also see a new ‘compact’ format. The 18-man lineup consists of 12 top-ranked kiters from the previous year’s event, the best four video contest entrants chosen from submissions on www.redbullkingoftheair.com as well as two wildcards. Perhaps the biggest news is the return of crowd favourite and big-air maestro, Ruben Lenten, as one of the wildcards.
“I’m so excited to be able to ride and compete again,” the Dutch hero says. “Getting second in 2014, dislocating my hand in 2015 and cancer in 2016 … I think it might be my time to shine again. I’ve got my eyes on the crown but know it ain’t gonna be easy.”
Other riders who will be making a welcome return are Lasse Walker and Lewis Crathern, both of whom spent time in hospital after bad crashes during the 2016 event. The South African contingent will be made up of Andries Fourie, who finished sixth in 2016, as well as video entrants Oswald Smith and Ryan Sygelberg.
Full 2017 rider list:
Aaron Hadlow (UK); Jesse Richman (USA); Kevin Langeree (NL); Reno Romeu (BRA); Lasse Walker (NL); Andries Fourie (RSA; Marc Jacobs (NZ); Lewis Crathern (UK); Jerrie van de Kop; Tom Hebert (FRA); Williem van der Meij (NL); Gijs Wassenaar (NL); Ruben Lenten (NL); Nick Jacobsen (DK); Steven Akkersdiik (NL); Oswald Smith (RSA); Aurélien Petreau (FRA); Ryan Siegelberg (RSA)
Date: Saturday, 21 January – Sunday, 5 February 2017
Venue: Big Bay