Red Bull Air Lords
World elite kiteboarders took on some of the most challenging conditions ever faced in competition to pull together a spectacular show of air and style at the Red Bull Airlords.
With offshore winds gusting between 10 and 25 knots and a clean swell of one and a half metres, leading kiteboarders from New Zealand and around the world combined huge airs with technical wakeboard-style tricks and awesome wave riding on the first round of the Red Bull Airlords Freestyle Contest.
“I got completely worked,” was the comment from Aucklander Gavin Broadbent after a long battle between his kite and pounding whitewater in heat one. “But I made it through so I’m not complaining!”
Thirty-seven-year-old Broadbent, who is the current world masters cable wakeboard champion, went on to win the Freestyle Contest in an awesome showdown with Hawaii’s Robby Naish, Adam Koch (U.S) and Shayne Bright, of Whangaparaoa New Zealand.
The four athletes were incredible examples of the huge variety of styles emerging in this new sport, with Bright taking on overhead-high waves out the back and leaping 10m in the air; Naish’s legendary wave riding touch and big airs into booming oncoming sets and Koch getting a near-barrel with perfect style. Broadbent carved the inside shorebreak with roll-to-reverts, clean 720s and other technically spectacular maneouvres from his wakeboarding background.
All four had fought hard battles to reach their place in the final, in tough conditions. “I can read this place now,” laughed Adam Koch. “At first I looked out there and it was like a bunch of scribbles that needed translation. Hey – we’re supposed to be professionals so lets at least pretend that we are!”
The Red Bull Airlords at Mangawhai Heads, 1hr 20mins north of Auckland, New Zealand is judged by a panel of five top watersport athletes from wakeboarding, surfing, windsurfing, skating and snowboarding.
Freestyle competition was followed by a hard-fought Hang Time, in which athletes tried to spend the longest time in the air. It was an awesome show, eventually taken by Hawaii’s Robby Naish with more than six seconds in the skies.
The Red Bull Airlords has a top lineup of New Zealand and international athletes competing for NZ$25,000 in prizemoney. The event continues until Sunday December 16 with a possible further round of Freestyle and Best Trick contest still to run, dependent on wind conditions.