This year’s Red Bull King of Air competition featured an incredibly deep field of elite kiteboarding specialists from around the world. Former champions and rising stars all gathered at Kite Beach in Cape Town, South Africa to send it big in hopes of earning the right to be crowned King of the Air.
After 34 heats and 7 hours of competition, it was Hawaiian kiteboarder, and Adventure IO guide, Jesse Richman who came out ahead of past champions Nick Jacobsen and Aaron Hadlow. The win is Jesse’s second at the Red Bull event and though he’s been in the running to take the crown in past years, it was a new strategy that helped the 27-year old come out on top.
“I’ve had really good heats leading up to the finals in many years and usually crack in the final, having peaked too early,” said Richman. “This year I adjusted a few things and felt confident with my plan and my strategy. It was really cool to see it play out.”
While the title is Richman’s second, his first coming in 2013, it was a day of firsts for the event. This year’s Red Bull King of the Air featured a new format with Rounds 1 and 2 consisting of video entry winners, wildcards, and the four “Fly to Red Bull King of the Air” winners. From there, the top six riders from 2019’s event joined in, seeding into Round 3. Overall, the new format was well received by contestants and the high winds provided a spectacular day of action for the crowd of 10,000 spectators that lined Kite Beach.