Behind the scenes at KOTA 2018
Team KW was on the scene as KOTA 2018 took flight on Saturday. Editor Jim Gaunt was hosting the livestream alongside RRD SA pro rider Colin Heckroodt and KW co-editor Matt Pearce was the beach presenter. Here’s the stuff the livestream didn’t show!
Images: James Stanley / Bertus Preller (www.actionshots.co.za / Insta: bertus_preller)
As the wind built over Kite Beach, the new venue for the Red Bull KOTA, you could feel the tension in the air. KOTA is such a hotly anticipated event and Nick Jacobsen’s unfortunate departure from the running coupled with four former Kings of the Air stepping up to the plate against a host of up and coming young talent meant that this year felt wide open for potential claimants of the crown.
After briefing the riders headed out to prep their gear, waiting for the wind to push past the prerequisite 30 knots required to run the event. Regular KOTA riders would be up against a host of exciting talented new entrants to KOTA, many of whom could well give some of the more established riders a run for their money – and they would..
INTO THE FRAY
As the Cape Doctor winds ramped up round one got underway with three riders to the heat. One rider was eliminated after seven minutes and would have a second chance to avoid elimination in round two. Second place finishers went through to round three and first place went straight to round four, packing their gear up as they wouldn’t be back on the water that day.
Round one saw some major upsets. Three former event winners; Jessie Richman, Ruben Lenten and Kevin Langeree found themselves ejected early to round two (a turn of events that saw Kevin marching straight to the judges tower) while some younger riders, including popular local rider and all-out charger Ross Dillon-Player found themselves progressing through to rounds three and four after beating riders they’ve looked up to since their early days in the sport!
Round two was where it got tense. The wind was building ever stronger and six riders had to fight to stay in the event. Jessie Richman and Jerrie van de Kop, two riders of very different proportions, had a super tight heat but Jessie was just that little more outrageous in the pumping conditions.
Next up, Marc Jacobs took on Tom Bridge who had flown in at super-late notice the night before after Aurelien Petreau had to give up his place due to a family bereavement. Current British Freestyle Champion and ex-Junior World Freestyle Champion, Tom, landed a couple of hours before the riders’ briefing and shook off his jet lag and rose to the occasion, but just couldn’t match Marc for sheer amplitude (or for his ballsy high-wind handle-passes). Extra emphasis is being put on height this year at KOTA and Marc sealed the deal in some of the strongest winds of the day.
The last action of the day was the final heat of round two with sunset just 30 minutes away… and it was suitably epic.
Ruben Lenten and Kevin Langeree were about to face off to avoid elimination from the event… which was still only on day one of a 15 day period! Surely no one would have predicted that so early in the event.
Ruben went for it with everything he had, throwing some of the most powered megaloops of the day and the live scores in the top corner of the livestream screen indicated that he was leading, until with just minutes to spare, Kevin stomped a board-off megaloop; one of the day’s top three high scoring tricks and sealed the deal.
Many people watching the event felt it could have been a final, such was the magnitude of the heat, but the implications were just as severe for Ruben. He was out of the running.
It seems the board-off megaloop has been the trick of the moment so far at this year’s KOTA. It’s what kept Kevin Langeree in the contest yesterday and even Aaron Hadlow, as canny a competitor as you’ll come across, has decided to add them to his repertoire. He stomped the first ever boogie-loop board-off yesterday after uncharacteristically switching from boots to straps mid-heat and landing the trick beyond cleanly. Click the livestream still below to watch it.
Although Tuesday had been lined up as a possible day two, the final day of the event is expecting to take place on Wednesday now with even stronger winds on the forecast and a solid swell forecast as well. Big wind and big kickers – it should be a beast of a show!
Catch up on all yesterday’s livestream action here and be sure to tune back in on Wednesday when Jim and Matt will be back on the air guiding you through the experience!