After a two-year wait, wind and waves finally aligned to create perfect conditions for extreme kitesurfing competition Red Bull Megaloop, with young South African Ross-Dillon Player claiming the 2019 crown. Here is all you need to know:
The event was only confirmed on Thursday, when the weekend weather
forecasts predicted winds of over 40 knots would hit the Dutch coast at
Zandvoort. This gave the invited field of 16 international kiteboarders
just 48 hours to make their way to the venue.
– The 16 participating athletes this year came from France, South Africa, Poland, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Over 8,000 fans defied force-nine gale conditions to turn out to watch
the action from the beach at Zandvoort’s The Spot watersport club.
The competition format pits riders against each other in heats of four,
with each trying to perform the biggest tricks using the megaloop
– Judges award points based on height, distance,
style and performance of the megaloops, so one perfect jump within the
heat’s time limit could see a rider progress to the next round.
Conditions were initially difficult for the riders, with wave selection
key on the choppy waters, but we were soon seeing them boosting up to
15m vertically and 50m in distance.
– The final heat saw two South Africans, Ross-Dillon Player and Oswald Smith, pitted against local favourite Lasse Walker and Spain-based Liam Whaley.
Player laid down a strong early marker and held on to top spot
throughout what was an extremely close finale. He eventually finished
with a 7.90, just 0.3 points ahead of compatriot Smith. Walker’s 7.47
was enough to claim the final podium spot.
– Speaking after
the event, a clearly emotional Player said: “Coming from the first round
I thought I was going home, but after that I won every heat. That’s
four heats. I can’t believe it, it just went so well.”
– Red Bull Megaloop has now been held four times since 2013. Previous winners are Jerrie van de Kop in 2013, Lasse Walker in 2015 and Joshua Emanuel in 2017.
Red Bull Megaloop 2019
1. Ross-Dillon Player 7.90
2. Oswald Smith 7.60
3. Lasse Walker 7.47
4. Liam Whaley 6.83