Red Bull King of the Air in Cape Town

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The Red Bull King of the Air is an annual kiteboarding event held in Cape Town, South Africa. The competition typically takes place at Big Bay in Bloubergstrand, known for its strong and consistent winds, making it an ideal location for extreme kiteboarding. Table View’s Kite Beach stands out as Cape Town’s kitesurfing Mecca, providing enthusiasts with a spectacular beachfront vantage point to experience the thrill of the event. Kiteboarders from around the world gather to participate in this high-profile event, showcasing their skills and pushing the limits of aerial maneuvers. The competition format often involves both qualifying heats and a final, where riders are judged on the height and creativity of their jumps, as well as the style and execution of tricks performed in the air. The event is organized by Red Bull, a well-known energy drink company that sponsors a variety of extreme sports events globally. The Red Bull King of the Air has gained a reputation for being one of the most prestigious and challenging competitions in the kiteboarding world.

Red Bull King of the Air is the biggest, most extreme kiteboarding competition, bringing together riders from across the globe to fight for the throne. The event’s weather window spans from November 25 to December 10, requiring wind speeds of 25 knots or higher as well as a decent swell to kickstart the action. The Red Bull King of the Air has been a pivotal event in the evolution of big air kiteboarding since its inception in Hawaii in the early 2000s. Moving to Cape Town in 2013, it has been the single biggest driver of progression in the sport, with riders continually pushing the boundaries of amplitude, variety, execution, and difficulty of trick. The west coast section of Cape Town, from Milnerton to beyond Big Bay, aligns well with the southeast wind, allowing riders to utilize the wind parallel to the shore. This creates excellent wave-riding opportunities, with the consistent summer swell offering a stark contrast to the often flat summer seasons in European countries.

kiteboarding Cape Town

Kiteboarding Judging Criteria

The judging criteria and system are unique to Red Bull King of the Air and don’t conform to any other kitesurfing or kiteboarding leagues or organizations. The system and criteria have been specifically developed (and are constantly updated) in accordance with the evolution of the sport and the event’s needs.

The three highest-scoring tricks of a rider will be will make up the rider’s final heat score and determine the result of the heat. A trick is scored on its HEIGHT, the extremity in which it has been performed, how technically correct it was and how well it was executed.

Repetition of the same trick is accepted, however, the impression score will reward variety. The impression score is a fourth score added at the end of each heat by each judge to reward the competitor for their overall performance in their heat. This score is often a deciding factor in a heat and is a big part of what sets Red Bull King of the Air’s judging criteria apart from other Big Air events. The impression score is not only heavily weighted toward variety within the top three scoring tricks, but also other factors such as style, execution, risk and innovation, as well as the ‘wow’ (showmanship) factor of the rider’s performance. It’s important to note that the Live Impression Indicator (on the Livestream) is similar to the impression score, but does not count toward the total, it is merely a visual indicator (rather than a final number) to the audience.

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