What conditions do the world’s best big air kiteboarders need to perform.
To get big air, you need big wind. Simple really. That almost didn’t happen last year, and the year before, and the year before that.
The story of Red Bull King of the Air 2015 could so easily have scripted along the lines of one of those wildlife channel doccies on searching for the Yeti or Bigfoot or something similar – a massive build up and suspense throughout, but then never actually finding it.
After waiting out the traditional two week window period – which saw enough wind to complete rounds 1 through 3, split over two separate days – the official weather window was extended by one day…that day saw the good old ‘Cape Doctor’ (southeasterly) honk to the needed strength.
It’s not good to deal in ‘what if’s’ and with the current weather patterns and long range forecast it looks unlikely that this scenario will play out again…but:
“When you start playing with elements there is always a chance, if not more than one, that you might not succeed. Guess that is the reason why we call it ‘Mother nature’!” explains event Sportive Director Sergio Cantagalli.
Cantagalli has over 30 years of extreme sports experience. He’s been on the planning, management and organisation side since Red Bull King of the Air/Fly to Maui in 2002, he’s overseen five consecutive Red Bull King of the Lake events as well as directing Red Bull Kite Mission, Red Bull Kite-O and Red Bull Unfastened, kind of qualified then to tell us about the ideal conditions needed for an epic Red Bull King of the Air 2017..
“There is not a minimum limit of wind speed needed to give a ‘go’ to the event,” explains Sergio. Rather what the team look for are suitable and sustainable conditions in which to start the event. The call is to be made by the contest director, Olaf van Tol.
“Ideally – and unless straggled for unexpected reasons – we will hardly consider any wind below an average of 25 knots (46km/h) to start with, and with a forecast to rise to 35 to 37 knots (65 – 69km/h), if not more,” he says.
According to Sergio, the ideal wind direction for Big Bay would be south-easterly sliding into southerly.
“No other wind can fit in Big Bay with proper strength, while keeping the ramps clean and tidy,” says Sergio, explaining how any other direction will influence the quality of the performance.
The ‘ramps’ Sergio refers to are of course waves, so swell forecasts and conditions will also play an important part in making the call. “Although what makes you go BIG is mostly a matter of wind strength and the speed a rider can generate, with the help of a good, hollow ramp and with the right timing, you can really ‘rule the sky’!”
Red Bull King of the Air has a two-week weather window, waiting period, but requires only six hours to be completed. In the past the event has always been run on one day, start-to-finish, but Sergio and his team will consider other options, as in 2016.
“It will all depend on what time the Cape Doctor will show up on event day, and therefore when the show will take off,” he says.