Fly To….Red Bull King of the Air
August 6-8th, 2004
Sponsored by Red Bull, REAL kiteboarding, Highway 12, Outer Beaches Realty, Kinnakeet Corner Convenience Store and H2Air Kiteboarding.
The Fly to….Red Bull King of the Air went off without a hitch this past weekend August 6-8th, at REAL kiteboarding in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Hosted by REAL and run at “The Slick”, one of the best flat water riding venues in the world, winners of this event are sent to Maui, Hawaii courtesy of Red Bull to compete in the “Red Bull King of the Air” main event. Conditions for this event were near perfect with winds in the 30+ knot range on Friday and a tamer 12-18 knots on Saturday. Competitors in the Men’s and Women’s Divisions traveled from all over the US, Canada and the Caribbean to this event in hopes of winning a free berth to the main event held in October.
The Red Bull schedule of events saw an Expression Session Friday evening and then rounds of freestyle heats scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. The Expression Session Friday evening was implemented as much for a warm up and welcome session as it was for a “fail safe” contest result in the event there was no wind for the main event on Saturday and Sunday. What was originally planned as a “sunset super session”, turned out to be the highlight of the contest and the best heat in kiteboarding history!
Red Bull Expression Session
“Two hours straight of 30 plus riders hucking themselves into oblivion”. The level of riding was world class. Every rider in the men’s division was riding three times better than last years event with 90% of them completing handlepass and kite loop maneuvers. The women were throwing fully committed kite loops and surface handlepasses. Some spectators reported seeing women go for aerial handlepasses as well. Right out of the block, Hamish McDonald set the standard of extreme with a kite loop placing him well above his kite right in front of the judges. From that point on the flood gate was wide open with huge kite loops, mobes of every kind, both hoisted and no whip, huge hucks off the REAL Deathstar and slides on the new Red Bull Slider. You could see each rider stepping it up and raising the bar every few minutes. Take this progression and stretch it out over two full hours in 30+ knots of wind and you end up with the most radical and exciting heat in kiteboarding competition history.
“Best Trick” in the Expression Session went to Sam Bell as he hoisted a huge aerial handlepass to kite loop off the Red Bull Slider. How big is “huge”? Considering he used the 8 ft tall, 45 degree up ramp of this slider as launch ramp in fully powered 9 meter weather, …you do the math. When he passed the handle, the crowd went wild and as he looped the kite on his way down, the crowd went totally bezerk! He cleared half of the competion box in the air and when he stuck the landing claimed “Best Trick” even though there was nearly an hour left in the heat.
Top Men’s Honors in the Expression Session went to Cameron Dietrich. A relatively unknown rider before this contest, watch for Cameron to back up his success in future events. His style is powerful and committed. Cameron threw every mobe in the book, kite loops, wake moves, blind moves, everything, and right in front of the judges. He either stomped it clean or blew up extremely hard, but his performance was enough to capture first place in the best heat in competition history. Quite a feather to wear in an up and coming rider’s cap!
In the Women’s division, Julie Sinsar, Morgan Skiperdene and Nadia Roux battled it out with different styles and competitive strategies. Nadia hit the water first and was going huge. If you’ve never seen Nadia ride, she goes bigger than most guys! 30 minutes into the heat she lost her kite and had to hitch a ride with Water Marshal Zack Young to track it down in The Slick. Back up and riding 5 minutes later, she continued to hoist the big ones for the remainder of the heat.
Morgan and Julie’s styles were more technical, each of them throwing down spins, kite loops, toeside maneuvers and surface handlepasses. Morgan won this event last year with Julie taking second. This year, after a hard winter of riding and training, Julie came out on top securing a 1st place in the Expression Session.
Virtually every rider who rode in the Red Bull Expression Session had a standout performance. Judging who was the winner was harder than judging a stacked Miss Universe Contest . Zack Kleppe took short lines and a mini blimp throwing kite loop to kite loop rotations that just looked absolutely mental. Davey Blair, riding a 6m Gasstra kite, tried to match every maneuver on the water, sometimes making it and sometimes not and when he missed them, the gas factor was unbelievable. For his efforts, Blair received the “Gas Masters” award, walking away with a genuine hand rolled, hand carried Cuban cigar. The list of notable performances goes on and on……
The Contest Scene
One of the best things about having an event at The Slick, is well,…. “You are at The Slick”, and this event was no exception. The scene at this year’s Red Bull event was insane! Three story high event tower, front and center on the point. Spectators lining the shore on beach towels, bleachers, and picnic tables with coolers in hand. Huge Red Bull tent in the backyard. Newly constructed shade structures over the back lawn and deck of “The Slick House”. People taking shade. People taking sun. People playing frisbee on the new front lawn. Dr Rudy was giving chiropractic adjustments to all riders under the new shade on the deck. Too Tall Brian was giving therapeutic massages under the Red Bull tent. Dave Loop wired the entire REAL Lesson Center property for sound and music. That’s 4 acres of waterfront rock and roll! Whether you were in the event, working at the event, watching the event or just passing through, this was a scene that wreaked of people having fun. Total stoke on every corner of the event site.
The Red Bull Slider
One of the largest (and I mean by size) attractions to this year’s event was the addition of the new “Red Bull Slider” to REAL’s famous Slider Park. Appropriately nick named “The Wall”, this new slider made its debut during the Red Bull contest and will be a long term addition to the REAL Park. 48 feet long by 8 feet high off the water, the new Red Bull Slider sports a double sided 4 color Red Bull graphics package and sucks riders in like a magnet as you hone in on it from The Slick! Whether you slide it end to end, gap the flat or launch into the stratosphere off the upramp, the new Red Bull slider represents the latest and greatest in kiteboarding park technology and thrill factor!
REAL Lessons and Camps
Amidst the competition, parties, announcing and music, all REAL Lessons and Camps were going off without a hitch. Many REAL students commented that the event was an awesome addition to their travel and instructional experience. Getting to watch the event and meet the riders, attending the parties, taking part in the fun filled weekend, this event only adds to the fun and skills student take home during their time with REAL.
Rounds of Freestyle
While Friday’s event was a high wind, winner take all spectacular, Saturday’s round of Freestyle elimination saw lighter breeze and lighter competitors making their way to the top. The single elimination freestyle started at 10am on Saturday morning. In the men’s division, “cinderella story” Evan Netsche worked his way through the rounds upsetting competitors twice his age. Evan is light and these were his conditions to revel. Jason Slezak worked through the rounds switching from his LF Drop 130cm to a LF Truth 160cm when the breeze became marginal. Even with the extra length of the Truth 160cm, Jason slid the new Red Bull Slider from end to end with style. Damien LeRoy, hailing from lightwind Florida, seemed to have a fan on his back, making wind and more importantly power where others seemed limp. The maneuvers Damien was throwing, and the power with which he was throwing them, seemed more like the day before than the 12-16 knots of breeze that were left in Saturday’s heats.
Sam Bell, feeling the stoke from his “Best Trick” performance on Friday, put it on the line again during Saturday’s freestyle heats. This time, he borrowed a Litewave 179cm and tossed a perfectly landed 360 aerial handlepass off the REAL Deathstar! When he was rotating the 179cm, judges swore they were fanned by the helicopter-like downdraft created by the spinning board!
In the women’s heats, Julie Sinsar and Morgan Skiperdene continued their head to head battle, continuously one upping each other on the water. Their level of riding put many of the male rider’s egos back into their shells. 540’s, kite loops, surface handle passes, aerial transitions, sliders, everything. These girls were ripping! Again, judges gave a narrow victory to Julie over Morgan, but to say somebody won and somebody lost doesn’t give an accurate representation of how hard these riders were charging.
As the day wore on, the breeze began to drop out. Men’s competitors were narrowed to 4 : Jason Slezak, Damien LeRoy, Evan Nestche and Dimitri Marimedes. The semis ran with enough breeze to pick the top two competitors, Jason taking 1st and Damien taking 2nd in the semi final heat. After that, the event was put on hold until proper winds presented themselves for the final heat between Jason and Damien. Red Bull Staff and competitors waited patiently the rest of Saturday for the breeze to fill back in but to no avail. The NW wind peaked in the morning and faded consistently throughout the day as it normally does. This left the freestyle men’s round unfinished, with Jason in 1st and Damien in 2nd, but no official freestyle result since the final was not completed.
Red Bull Party and Awards Ceremony
One of the best parts of any event is the party and Red Bull puts on a good one! Held waterfront at The Slick, under the Red Bull tent and the stars, this party started at 7pm and ran through 11pm. Party amenities included copious amounts of Red Bull and vodka, 10 ft wide screen movies playing outdoors and live DJ Sean Martin spinning on the back deck of “The Slick House”. REAL kiteboarding debuted the new Liquid Force “Relentless” video and also KillaHz new video “Windreels” on the 10 ft screen. Event sponsor, Outer Beaches Realty, kicked down a huge spread of delicious food for the party, while Kinnakeet Corner Convenience Store snuck two cold kegs of Newcastle Beer under the tent to compliment the supply of RB. Weather for the entire event was nearly perfect. A cold front pushed through on Friday, eliminating the humidity and clearing the air, leaving daytime temps in the mid 70’s dropping to the 60’s at night. Night time weather was clear as a bell, with the Cape Hatteras stars shining bright over the evening festivities.
Due to the fact that a full round of single elimination freestyle was not completed in the Men’s division on Saturday, a combination of the expression session and freestyle were used to determine the winner of the overall event. In the Men’s division, Cameron Dietrich claimed the top spot , while Jason Slezak and Damien LeRoy took 2nd and 3rd respectively. In the women’s division, Julie Sinsar took 1st, Morgan Skiperdene 2nd and Nadia Roux 3rd. Cameron and Julie each received fully expense paid trips to Maui in October to compete in the main event, “The Red Bull King of the Air”. These six riders also received a $50 gift certificate each from REAL kiteboarding.
A big thanks goes out to all who made this event possible, including the great people and staff of Red Bull and REAL kiteboarding, Dave and Spunky Loop of H2Air, Outer Beaches Realty for sponsoring the food at the Red Bull Party, Kinnakeet Corner Convenience Store for the cold beer, especially the kegs of Newcastle, and Highway 12 for al the great t’s, sweat’s and stickers donated to the event.
Another big thanks goes out to all of the competitors and spectators who attended the event. The riders and spectators make a good event great, and the people who showed up this year both on the water and on the beach added to the event making it an even better one!