STAND BY: RED BULL KING OF THE AIR - THE HEAT IS ON
INTRO ? The waiting period for the biggest kiteboarding event in recent history opens with a welcome party cruise and the promise of six mouthwatering first heats between the world' best...possibly on Sunday
Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday 31st January.
The atmosphere has built over the last few days in Cape Town and as we gathered on the Mystic House lawn at 5pm on Thursday, there was a real sense of excitement as this was the first time the 24 riders were all gathered in one place. Many had been in Cape Town for a while, several were of course locals and the rest had arrived over the last few days. Some, like Marek Zach had only been given their wildcard days before and had scrambled their way there. Others like Jesse Richman had taken three overnight flights to reach South Africa alongside team boss and honorary King of the Air guest and ambassador, Robby Naish, who came to instil into the riders just how important this event will be. Conditions allowing, this event will start a new chapter for kiteboarding.
In typical Red Bull style the event got underway with a beautiful sunset cruise around the cape for the riders, committee, organisers and all those involved in the event. Red Bull host and event organiser Martin Van Staden welcomed us all to what would surely be a 'shit hot' event before Contest Director Sergio Cantagalli warned riders to be ready for the coming conditions and that Sunday looked like the first possible start day. Robby Naish was then invited to speak from the raised position on the one of the catamaran's hulls as the recently set sun set the sky orange behind him and he rallied the troops to ride as hard as they can and that he was just so stoked to be here, to be able to see them create an event that kiteboarding should always have been about and he thanked Ruben Lenten in particular for having had the vision to keep extreme kitesurfing progression and in the limelight with this event.
Dinner was served at a restaurant back in the harbour and it was soon time for the heat draws. You can pick out the heats you'd be relishing the most, but with the cast of 24 riders we have here, there were never going to be any tame ones.
So, first possible start is Sunday and, during a week that Garrett McNamara set the surfing world alight with a huge wave in Portugal, it's likely that the word 'big' will be redefined in kiteboarding over the weekend. I'm fortunate enough to be on the committee for the event as well as be one of three judges alongside Susi Mai and Greg Thijsse. My position is an incredibly privileged one to be able to see this event come together and then to get prime position to watch it go down.
I'll be tweeting @kiteworldmag and on my own account @jimgaunt1. Also stay tuned to kiteworldmag.com and Facebook ? www.facebook.com/kiteworldmagazine for more.
The official website is: www.redbullkingoftheair.co.za You can check current forecasts, meet the riders, see videos and more up there and check out #redbullkingoftheair for all the comments and updates on Twitter.
Current forecast is giving up to 40 knots on Windfinder and in Cape Town, you can usually add a few to that forecast. Yikes!