What will the Judges look for?
The message is coming through loud and clear: there’s more than one way to loop a kite. But is this what will sway the judges at the 10th Cape Town Red Bull King of the Air?
Head Judge, Chris Bull, at Wednesday’s Competitor Briefing, acknowledged that innovation in Big Air kiting has been phenomenal in the last year, and explained that to be crowned King, the judges want to see that the rider can put down and demonstrate high-scoring tricks with a high level of variety.
“Make sure that you're mixing and matching, changing those kite movements. So, different kite loops, contras, innovative loops - there's a lot of innovation out there right now. S-loops, double loops, unhooked megaloops we've never seen in King of the Air. There's a lot of options now to bring out,” advised Bull.
Height, Extremity, Technicality and Execution
To score high, the rider needs to perform extreme tricks as high as possible, with good hangtime. Perfect scores are super-high with good levels of extremity, good amounts of technicality and super clean landings.
“Extremity is all about making sure that the kite is nice and deep and there is a good kite angle. We want to see powerful, extreme loops that really utilise as much of the wind window and power of the kite as possible. High loops don’t score as much as loops where the kite’s angle is lower,” said Bull.
Looping it low in Cape Town, Rider Luca Ceruti. Photo by Craig Kolesky.
“Kite loops need to be done so the kite has a good journey through the most powerful section of the wind window. We want to see good power, good g-force, good energy on a kite loop. We want to see you guys getting as much juice out of your kite and the wind window as you possibly can.”
Red Bull’s panel of independent and highly experienced judges are focussed on awarding the most extreme and complete rider as the King of The Air. The judging criteria and system are unique to Red Bull King of The Air and don’t conform any to any other kitesurfing or kiteboarding leagues or organisations.
Judges at 2021 Red Bull King of the Air. Photographer Tyrone Bradley / Red Bull Content Pool
Bull emphasised the need for riders to demonstrate variety across all their tricks, to sway the judges best on the 25% Impression score. To decide the impression score, the judges will also consider showmanship or wow-factor and innovation. The judges can give credit in the impression score to riders who are willing to bring fresh, progressive tricks to the competition.
“Red Bull King of the Air is the ultimate celebration of Big Air kiteboarding. We are looking for all of you to put on a complete performance, a complete show. We don’t have a trick limit. You guys can throw down as many tricks as you want.
“To be crowned King, you must go out there and do a lot of high-scoring tricks with a high level of variety. We want to see a good performance throughout the whole duration of the heat. Not just send three epic tricks and spend the rest of the heat body-dragging.”
Bull explained the importance of landing clean, but also emphasised that butt-checks would be tolerated.
"This is a board-riding sport. If you're not landing cleanly, it's not super cool. But we also understand this is extreme big air kiteboarding and that you guys are doing some pretty crazy and awesome stuff in the air with g-force and height.
“What we don't want to do is put you off fully sending it, worried that if you do get a butt check, it will be a waste of opportunity for a good score. We want you guys to go for it. We want it to be exciting. If you do get a small butt check, then we’ll remove a small number of points from the score.
“It is super important though that the board lands first, not the bum, so try not to teabag into the water and pop back up. Really big butt checks or falling into a hole will be considered a crash and a crash is a non-score.
If it really is a big impact and you manage to ride it out, you are risking losing some of the points for that trick.
“We want to see for maximum scores that you land in control and you’re able to ride out of the moves with the kite under control as well,” said Bull.
Head Judge: Chris Bull (ENGLAND)
Ignacio De Agiula Gonzales Dago (SPAIN)
Tom Schouten (NEDERLAND)
Reinier Korstanje (NEDERLAND)
Greg Thjisse (SOUTH AFRICA)
Victor Hays (FRANCE)
Sportive Director: Sergio Cantagalli (ITALY)
Contest Director : Olaf van Tol (NEDERLAND)
See a brief outline of the 2022 Event judging criteria here