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World Elite Kiteboarders Ready to Fly

World Elite Kiteboarders Ready to Fly

Huge moves with the occasional crash to match is predicted for this year’s Red Bull Airlords – an elite international kiteboarding competition that is set to take off above a small town north of Auckland tomorrow (Nov 27).

Top kiteboarders have converged from the shores of Hawaii, Australia, New Caledonia and throughout New Zealand to the picturesque coastal town of Mangawhai Heads, 1hr 20mins’ north of Auckland, for the Red Bull Airlords which runs until Sunday (December 1).

The 32 men and 2 women athletes will battle it out in the skies for the title of ‘Airlord’ and a share in NZ$25,000 prizemoney for the most solid tricks in the sky.

“The kind of things that people are doing in kiteboarding has changed a huge amount from last season,” says head judge and top kiwi kiteboarder, Kane Hartill of Christchurch. “I don’t remember seeing a single person taking their board right off but that’s where the freestyle scene has been going – with a Moto X influence.

“It has made it a lot more exciting for spectators – a lot more dynamic and there’s a lot bigger crashes actually. And then there’s the whole wakeboard-inspired thing, which is in total contrast.”

Among the spectators already gathered at Mangawhai is New Zealand’s most successful ever wakeboarder, Jeff Weatherall, who recently returned from eight months’ of international competition. “I definitely want to have a crack at it,” he said today. “I think kiteboarding has taken off even more than wakeboarding since I’ve been away and I’m always keen to give new things a go.”

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World champion kiteboarder Cindy Mosey (Nelson) will battle it out with the boys for the Airlord title. She will face not only the best in New Zealand, but professionals Chris Gilbert (US), Adam Koch (US) and Ben Meyer (US), who all reside in kiteboarding’s mecca – Hawaii.

“I’m really happy to be back,” said Koch, who finished 2nd on the podium last year to Hawaiian Robby Naish. “I’m aiming to go really high, and we ride a lot of waves in Hawaii where it’s just coming into big wave season right now, so I’m hoping we’ll get a little of the same here.”

Ideal conditions for the contest are onshore or cross-shore wind (North or North-East) of about 25 knots, and contest director Craig Wigglesworth will make a call in the morning each day on whether the Freestyle Day, Best Trick or Hang Time events can run.

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