From 27 January to 11 February the world’s kitesurfing champs will descend on Cape Town to compete in a big air kitesurfing contest of world renown. The best of the best will face each other to determine who the King of the Air is. During the competition period the legendary Cape Doctor hits wind speeds of over 30 knots. Contestants are provided with perfect swells to wow the judges with their best extreme maneuvers.

In this year’s competition the top nine kiteboard champs from last year will go up against nine new riders that were chosen from video submissions. Watch them master the waves and see who can walk away with the sought-after title. An exciting new location has been announced for this year’s competition. Kite Beach, Blouberg, will offer riders more consistent wind speeds. Be prepared to see bigger and bolder moves!

The Competition: History

The first Red Bull King of the Air was hosted in Maui in 2000. The Hawaiian island’s famous windsurfing spot, Ho’okipa, was perfect for the riders to show off big air moves. Back in the day, kite technology was still in its infancy, the raw power of the kites leaned to the dangerous side.

The event was hosted in Maui five years in a row as the biggest annual kitesurfing event. But as the sport went through its growing pains, a lot of pro riders lost interest in big air maneuvers. The competition started to feel like same old year after year.

But then new equipment breathed fresh wind into kitesurfing’s sails and the elite riders became more interested in honing their skills, showing off style and technicality. The focus on the moves did entail that most tricks were performed closer to the water, almost like wakeboarding or normal surfing.

Around 2007/08, a few kite surfers like Ruben Lenten became jaded by the state of kitesurfing competition formats. They started experimenting with wind speeds to test the limits of kitesurfing equipment. Hunting for stronger and stronger winds, they began trying to go higher and further. Previously these conditions were seen as “unride-able” winds.

The more comfortable these riders became with testing their skills against the wind, the more they experimented. Soon the “mega loop” was born. This is the moment the rider forces the kite into a huge loop, oftentimes the kite going underneath them while in the sky. These can be done up to 40 feet high. The challenge is then to maneuver the kite right-side up again before the rider lands.

In 2012 Ruben Lenten and a few other passionate kite surfers launched the Red Bull Len10 Megaloop Challenge, hosted in Big Bay, South Africa. Lewis Crathern (UK) took the title that year. And so the Red Bull King of the Air competition was revived after eight years in hibernation.

In 2013 the competition had 24 of the world’s best kite surfers compete for the title of King of the Air. The competition attracted the most extreme big air specialists and they all flocked to Big Bay to show off their skills. Jesse Richman from Hawaii made it to the top after eight hours of epic kitesurfing action. And the rest is history. The Red Bull King of the Air competition brought kitesurfing back to its roots, reviving the essence of the sport.

The Competition: 2018 Lineup


Big names such as Ruben Lenten, Aaron Hadlow and Kevin Langeree are part of this year’s lineup of the world’s best riders. The competition works on a “flag out” format. Each round four riders hit the waves and by the end of the round the lowest-scoring rider gets “torched”. Thereafter the scores go back to zero and the clock is reset. Last man standing is crowned the king. The weather-window opens on the 27th of January and the competition will kick off on the first day with perfect conditions.

kevin-langeree-red-bull-king-of-the-airTips for the most epic KOTA experience:

  • You will look up at the sky a lot, remember your sunglasses
  • The African sun is potent, put on strong sunscreen
  • Pack in enough snacks and drink lots of water
  • Bring comfortable seating with you
  • Don’t be afraid to show your appreciation, hoots from the crowd will put extra wind in the riders’ sails
  • Be ready to experience the most extreme big air kitesurfing contest in the world!

The Riders

Aaron Hadlow (UK) | Ruben Lenten (NL) | Lewis Crathern (UK) |Steven Akkersdijk (NL) |Lasse Walker (NL) | Oswald Smith (RSA) | Reno Romeu (BRA) | Jerrie Van De Kop (NL) | Jesse Richman (USA) | Kevin Langeree (NL) | Aurelien Petreau (FRA) | Joshua Emanuel (RSA) | Marc Jacobs (NZ) | Ross-Dillon Player (RSA) | Antonin Rangin (FRA) | Sam Light (UK) | Gijs Wassenaar (NL) | Liam Whaley (ESP)


This will be next level kitesurfing, an epic experience is guaranteed. Last years’ champ Nick Jacobsen (@nick_jacobsen) has suffered an unfortunate injury and won’t be competing this year. The Danish daredevil broke his fibula in South Africa while training, moments before the event kick-off. He’s put his money on Lasse Walker (@lassewalker) as a big possibility to snatch up the title this year.


Jump in on the discussion: #kitesurfing

Can’t make it to the beach to enjoy the epic kitesurfing action?
Not to fear, you can watch it live on

The Judges

Alex Vliege | Gregory Thijsse | Reinier Korstanje | Vita Vitezskav Adamicek | Arek Jerzelkowski |Chris Bull

To crown the King of the Air hawk-eyed judges will critique style and technique, rating all the fancy maneuvers that riders will use to try impress them. Who will be the last man standing?

Events team:

Olaf Van Tol (contest director) | Sergio Cantagalli (sportive director)

To find out more about the competition, visit

Redbull King Of The Air 2018

Here is a little Throwback to the 2017 King of the Air. Watch this decent edit that captures the amazing air bending skills of this year’s riders. Let us again congratulate our team rider Nick Jacobson.

Brandon is one of our up and coming Cabrinha South Africa team riders. He has been progressing so fast and has been blasting huge Megaloops in Cape Town.

Check out these photos and the video. We are sure we will be seeing Brandon in the Red Bull King of the Air soon.


Brandon Snider Cabrinha Megaloops

Brandon Snider Cabrinha Megaloops

Brandon Snider Cabrinha Megaloops

The Red Bull King Of The Air 2017 is over and we are having serious withdrawals. So we thought we would put together some of the best Instagram shots from the competition and the weeks leading up to the final.

From @cabrinhakites

The build up

Win a board!

Its on 31st Jan 2017!

The prize giving with Cabrinha champion Nick Jacobsen.

From @cabrinha_southafrica

Our riders

Nick and Andries making it through

Graham Howes Cabrinha Team Rider

From @redbullza

The Trohpy

The crowds

The final

The champion Nick Jacobsen

The Red Bull King Of The Air 2017 has been given the green light for Tuesday 31st January. The first heats of the competition will likely be held in the late afternoon/evening in Big Bay Cape Town.

The wind is not looking very strong for today, but the forecast is not promising either, and the organizers probably want to get some heats out of the way before the real wind arrives of Thursday. Expect the organizers to try and finish all the heat of round 1 so that they can start on an even keel on Thursday 2nd of February.

Cabrinha is the official kite sponsor for the 2017 Red Bull King of The Air  and we are running two fantastic competitions where you could wind a Cabrinha Kiteboarding board. Come down to the Cabrinha shop in Big Bay to check out our awesome specials and enter the competitions, while you soak up the energy of the competition in the natural amphitheater of Big Bay.


When life gives you lemons – in Cape Town’s case the Southeaster wind, a.k.a. the Cape Doctor – you make lemonade; or, even better, you host the Red Bull King of the Air kiteboarding competition. The competition attracts the best kiteboard riders in the world, who take on the treacherous Cape of Storms elements for the chance of being crowned the Red Bull King of the Air.

This year’s competition, held for the fourth consecutive year at Big Bay in Cape Town, saw 24 kiteboarding pros battle it out in front of 13 000 people for the highest and furthest jumps, as well as the most innovative, technical, and risky tricks and combos.

Riders have a two-week period in which they wait for the two days with the most favourable conditions, which include strong winds and high swells (Red Bull gives you wings, but strong winds and big waves help as well). The first round was held on 3 February when the Southeaster picked up to 30 knots. Although all 24 riders are pros, the first day separated the good riders from the brilliant ones. All three local boys (Kruger, Smith, and Howes) made it through to the second round at the end of the first day. Conditions seemed favourable for most of the day, but during Heat 9 in Round 2 the wind abated and the competition was postponed.

Red Bull King of the Air Explanation

The competition resumed on Sunday, 7 February, when the wind picked up again. Riders were treated to some of the strongest winds and highest swells in the competition’s 9-year history and some anticipated that the Cape Doctor would be doing more breaking than healing. In Heat 9 this seemed all too apparent when Sam Light, with 5 minutes to go in the heat, wiped out and was dragged downwind like a rag doll. Luckily he relaunched with no injuries.

Local rider Andries Fourie made it through to Round 3 thanks to some huge loops and secured himself a spot in the semi-finals. Oswald Smith, also a local, was up against some really impressive talent in his heat, including the 2014 King of the Air, Kevin Langeree. Smith gave his best, but came down hard on the water when attempting a kite loop KGB. He was carried back to shore and thus his run in the competition ended.

The next two heats also promised much with two previous champions competing. Defending champion Aaron Hadlow came second in his heat, while 2013 champion Jesse Richman came out on top in his heat, both securing their places in the semi-final.

As expected, the semi-finals, with three previous champions, provided exciting stuff. In the first semi-final, Lasse Walker, attempting a huge mega loop, crashed hard in the water and the safety boat had to be deployed. Fortunately he did not suffer any major injuries, although he did get some water in the lungs and a painful reminder that even the pros can become the playthings of the elements. In the next semi-final, Lewis Crathern, who dominated the previous heat and much of the competition, got taught that same lesson when he wiped out from a height of 20 metres at the start of the heat. Unfortunately he didn’t get off as lightly as Walker and he was later put in a medically induced coma. This tragic event meant the end of one of the more impressive riders in this year’s competition, but certainly not the end of him competing in future competitions.

In the end, the three previous champions – Aaron Hadlow, Kevin Langeree, and Jesse Richman – together with Brazilian Reno Romeu, made it to the final. After some really impressive loops by all four, Reno was flagged out, leaving it to the other three champions to battle it out. With all three tasting a second win, they risked life and limb to pull off their most impressive moves.

At the end of the day, Kevin Langeree was awarded the Mystic Move of the Event and the $1000 prize for his kiteloop front roll inverted one footer, but it was defending champion Aaron Hadlow who secured first place, becoming the first two-time champion in the history of the competition.

Wind, waves, water, and a few walloping wipe-outs made the 2016 competition one of the best ever. With these conditions, the famous Capetonian hospitality, and the spectacular backdrop of Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope will live up to its name; giving fans of kiteboarding hope that this competition (and the sport) will continue to grow year after year, draw larger crowds, and inspire young daredevils to take on the challenge to become the next Red Bull King of the Air.

Red Bull King Of The Air Winners