2020 Redbull King Of The Air - a bit of History


Every years, thousands of kiteboarders are very excited about the "Red Bull King Of The Air", also named #KOTA. It is now one of the most prestigious kiteboard competition of the year. We figured out that it would be a great idea to write some information you may not know yet about this prestigious event which happens in Cape Town every south hemisphere's winters.

A bit of history!

Back in the days, in 2000, it is on the beach of Ho’okipa, Maui Hawaii, where it all started. Back then it was all about sending it as hard and as high as you can with experimental raw kites and thats when the Redbull King Of The Air came to life. Every year, Big names like Robby Naish, Mark Shinn, Martin Vary, Jeff Tobias, teenage Ruben Lenten, Aaron Hadlow and many more were meeting each other in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to go as big as they could, wild conditions were there to please the crowned. It lasted 5 years until the sport became the fastest growing watersport in the world. At that moment, pro-riders were tending to go toward new directions: The new school freestyle, it basically took over the entire market... This New School freestyle was based on:
  • wakestyle ( unhooked tricks )
  • keeping the kite as low as you can
  • using kickers and eventually rails
  • Kiteloops
  • ...
A that moment, The Red Bull King Of The Air was then known to be too similar. Every year the same show happened without a proper evolution which kinda erased the purpose of the event.
Lenten Megaloop Challenge, The Big Air is coming back..!!

After a few year on top of the scene, riders like Nick Jacobsen, Jesse Richman, Ruben Lenten, Aaron Hadlow, and many more icons in the sport got back to Big Air riding. This time in a much more extreme direction than it used to be in the early days.

Thanks to new kiteboarding technologies and Cape Town's wind... Over there, the wind is stronger and colder than anywhere else in the world and the boys pushed the limits of a kite and reached new heights. They reinvented the big air by adding Kiteloops or Megaloops ( for some people ) and going as bigger and higher than anyone's ever been before. Therefore, the kitesurf as a young sport quickly changed trends again and the Big air was back to the highlights. As well new disciplines appeared: Kitepark, flat tricks with surfboards, Foil,...

In 2012, Ruben Lenten considered as the pioneer in the extreme big air kiteboarding, ran the "Red Bull Len10 Megaloop Challenge" in Cape Town and a year later, the Red Bull King of the air was back and bigger than ever, in Cape town this time as it is the best playground for strong wing.

2013 Cape Town - KOTA is Back !

in 2013, the KOTA came back to life but in Cape Town this time at Big Bay in table view. Table View is the area where you can see the entire famous table mountain from the beach ans also known to be the most difficult spot to kite on earth as it offers super wild conditions...

Called "the mother city", Cape Town is a destination where many of the best kiteboarders and brands of the world go to spend the "off season" to find some sun and incredibly wild and consistant kiteboarding conditions, it is perfect to either train or run photoshoot and test new produsts. The wind over there is called the "Cape Doctor", this is because people say it is so strong and consistant, it takes the pollution and bad away from the air... Yhis Cape Doctor attracts all the pros to go big and ride waves. People put their freestyle game in their pocket over there and usually stay hooked in most of the time. Big air and wave riding is more Cape Town's cup of tea. Cape Town has brought the roots of kiteboarding back and over there it's all about fun. People ride together and not against each other and that is a beautiful thing to witness. If you know the local crew called Dirty Habits, you probably know what we mean by fun! This city has it all, it is an amazing destination if you are looking for outdoors sports, culture, nature, parties, blue sky and crazy adventures... T.I.A.

Red Bull King of the Air in Cape town

After 8 years of rest, in the middle of the north hemisphere winter, with several changes in the judging criteria, the KOTA quickly became the most prestigious event of the year again.They started running it in Big Bay which is friendlier to people watching and sit on the beach but within a few years they brought to the next beach called Kitebeach as it is a little windier. They created a waiting period of 2/3 weeks to make sure they run the event on the best conditions ( wind and waves ).

King Of The Air Rules:

There are a lot of rules that riders and supporters have to follow. If you are interested in the full rules sheet with all the details, click on the following link: KOTA RULES.

Here below you will find a summary of these rules we found the most relevant to share with you.
  • The rider is allowed to jump as many time as he want in his heat, but only his top 3 scores will be taken into consideration.
  • Variety in your top 3 scores is a key- factor, the judges will reward more someone that does 3 big scores with completely different tricks than 3 similars tricks.
  • A 4th score will be given to each riders at the end of the heat, that will come from his overall riding through the heat based on style, variety, combinations, control, execution, creativity,... It can make the difference between 2 riders that has a close heat.
Many people are considering that this 4th score is wrong and not a very fair way to judge. It is on these kind of score that you can favour a friend, a sponsor... Final score come from the average of these 4 scores.
  1. Judges will look at following: The Overall impression of Extreme Big Air with the emphasis on Height, but only when in combination with extremety.
  2. The Overall Impression of the Extreme Big Air performance scores will be determined by combining: - 70% Height. Go as hard and high as possible. The height in combination with extreme moves is priority, but we will also take the horizontal distance travelled in account, combined with certain powered moves - 30% Extremity. Controlled extreme high moves. Think about extremely powered and/or extremely technical, or ultimately a combination of this as long as it is performed on a proper height.
  3. big butt check, grabbing the chicken loop while passing the bar, crashing the kite at the landing, all these will decrease your score or even be scored as a 0 and considered as a crash.

Past events Summary:

2013: running at Big Bay, the come back of the Red Bull KOTA was invitational only and brought together 24 of the best big air riders from all over the world. It was a great success and everyone started to talk about the 2014 edition very quickly. Results:
  1. Jesse Richman (USA)
  2. Nick Jacobsen (DEN)
  3. Sam Light (GBR)
  4. Youri Zoon (NED)
  5. Andries Fourie (RSA)
  6. Lewis Crathern (GBR)
  7. Gianni Aragno (ESP)
  8. Kevin Langeree (NED)
2014: Similar location than 2014, they changed the format to head to head heats and it showed some incredible battles again. Results:
  1. Kevin Langeree (NED)
  2. Ruben Lenten (NED)
  3. Steven Akkersdijk (NED)
  4. Andries Fourie (RSA)
  5. Aaron Hadlow (GBR)
  6. Jesse Richman (USA)
  7. Tom Herbert (FRA)
  8. Billy Parker (USA)
2015: This year, with a trickier wind, they run the competitions over 3 days and eve had to extend the waiting period for one day to finaly get the best out of Cape Town! The patience paid off as they finished with a strong show once again! Results:
  1. Aaron Hadlow (GBR)
  2. Kevin Langeree (NED)
  3. Jerrie van de Kop (NED)
  4. Jesse Richman (USA)
  5. Nick Jacobsen (DEN)
  6. Steven Akkersdijk (NED)
  7. Ruben Lenten (NED)
  8. Sam Light (GBR)
  9. Antonin Rangin (FRA)
  10. Billy Parker (USA)
  11. Lewis Crathern (GBR)
  12. Tom Hebert (FRA)
2016: The great 2016 event was something! The 2015 defending champ, Hadlow out-gunned previous champions, Hawaiian Jesse Richman (2013); Kevin Langeree from the Netherlands (2014) and first-time finalist Reno Remeu to claim back-to-back wins.
  1. Aaron Hadlow (UK)
  2. Jesse Richman (USA)
  3. Kevin Langeree (NED)
  4. Reno Romeu (BRA)
2017: This year, Aaron couldn't take the crown again, a danish boy got into his feet: Nick Jacobsen taking out his first international win. It was a very special event and the creativity and control Nick showed that day was incredible. Results:
  1. Nick Jacobsen (DEN)
  2. Aaron Hadlow (GBR)
  3. Ruben Lenten (NED)
  4. Lewis Crathern (GBR)
  5. Steven Akkersdijk (NED)
  6. Lasse Walker (NED)
  7. Oswald Smith (RSA)
  8. Reno Romeu (BRA)
  9. Jerrie van de Kop (NED)
  10. Graham Howes (RSA)
  11. Gijs Wassenaar (NED)
  12. Willem van der Meij (NED)
  13. Antonin Rangin (FRA)
  14. Andries Fourie (RSA)
  15. Tom Hebert (FRA)
  16. Stuart Downey (RSA)
  17. Aurelien Petreau (FRA)
  18. Ryan Siegelberg (RSA)
2018: Nick injured couldn't fight for his second victory in a raw. Each year the improvement of the technology and the big air trends growing fast, the boys come up with new gear and are pushing it hard! Kevin came out first for a second time! It also is the year they moved from Big Bay to Kitebeach to find the finest wind and swell for such an event, that sure was a great move from Red Bull! Results:
  1. Kevin Langeree (NED)
  2. Liam Whaley (ESP)
  3. Lewis Crathern (UK)
  4. Jesse Richman (USA)
  5. Aaron Hadlow (UK)
  6. Steven Akkersdijk (NED)
  7. Lasse Walker (NED)
  8. Sam Light (UK)
  9. Gijs Wassenaar (SA)
  10. Joshua Emanuel (SA)
  11. Marc Jacobs (NZ)
  12. Antonin Rangin (FRA)
  13. Oswald Smith (SA)
  14. Ross Dillon Player (SA)
  15. Reno Romeu (BRA)
  16. Jerrie Van De Kop (NED)
  17. Tom Bridge (UK)
  18. Ruben Lenten (NED)
2019: This was a special year as Kevin Langeree became the first king of the air to claim 3 victory since the new format came up. At Kitebeach again, the show was insane! Results:
  1. Kevin Langeree (NED)
  2. Jesse Richman (USA)
  3. Liam Whaley (ESP)
2020: This obviously was the last event and once again, a brilliant success. Wind, riders and the public were on point to make sure it was a great year. Results:
  1. Jesse Richman (USA)
  2. Nick Jacobsen (DEN)
  3. Aaron Hadlow (UK)
  4. Liam Whaley (ESP)
  5. Marc Jacobs (NZ)
  6. Steve Akkersdijk (NED)
  7. Lewis Crathern (UK)
  8. Stuart Downey (SA)
  9. Kevin Langeree (NED)
  10. Reno Romeu (BRA)
  11. Antonin Rangin (FRA)
  12. Joshua Emmanuel (SA)
Here you can find a few fun links with behind the scene from the KOTA 2020:

Interesting Bio about the past winners:

Jesse Richman

27 years old ( 1992 ), from Hawaii, USA. Jesse Richman is a big-wave kitesurfer and a big-air kiteboarder. He is a two-time world champion and the first kitesurfer to get barreled at Jaws. He is also known for his world record 790-foot tow-up and 170-foot jump over land. He is now crowned Red Bull King of the air twice. He rides for North and Mystic. “The 'oh sh*t' moment - that is what it's all about,”. “The most interesting side of kiteboarding is the big and extreme side if you ask me. It's crazy what we can do with a kite. I want to see this sport soar to new heights and what the King of the Air has done for the sport is like nothing else.” says Jesse Richman.
Jesse Richman - winner: 2013 and 2020

Kevin Langeree

31 years old ( 1988 ), from Noordwijk in the Neederlands. Kevin has won a lot in his career, from the PKRA to KOTA, he is one ofthese guys that can win it all ! The love he has for the sport with the control he s got on the water couldn't bring him anywhere else than where he is today: one of the biggest kiteboarder of all time. Always with a big smile on his face, he is always challenging himself with new things and try to push his vision the further he can. He just launched a new kite brand called "Reedin" and we wish him good luck ! He is the only one to have 3 wins at Red Bull KOTA and It wouldn't be a surprise if he gets one more in the upcoming few years.
Kevin Langeree - winner: 2014, 2018 & 2019

Aaron Hadlow

If you don't know who Aaron Haldow is yet, you need to get yourself into the sport a little more! From the UK, Aaron was born in 1988 ( 31 years old ). Since his young age, he s always been on top of the game and was the young guy beating everyone everywhere. Dominating the world tour for 5 years, he challenged himself with new goals and got more into Park riding and working through video project. He won the KOTE twice and could win everything he enters in. He is supported by Red Bull, Duotone and ION.
Aaron Hadlow - winner: 2015 & 2016

Nick Jacobsen

Member of the Dirty Habits crew, Nick is from Denmark but spends many months a year in Cape Town. He is 30 years old (1989) and is not done yet! He is known to be one of the most outstanding kiteboard from this generation, he is very creative and likes to do things you normally would,t see. He jumps from every cliffs, cranes, towers he can find and always want to do something bigger. Thats when the wind is light, when it is strong tho, he just goes as high as any of the best riders and shows probebly more control than anyone else out there. He is what we like to call a true freerider and only follow his own vision. Nick will keep on surprising us in the future. The highlights of his career is probably that famous jump from the top of the Burj al-Arab in Dubai. He is now team manager of North Kiteboarding and we are looking forward to see what he ll bring to the world with this incredible team he is pulling together!
Nick Jacobson - winner 2017

Thanks for reading us. We are looking forward to offer you new content soon !

The unhooked.be team

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