August 26, 2018, Fehmarn, Germany – After battling against the worlds best freestyle and big air kiteboarders, Naish’s Jesse Richman finished runner-up in the first ever GKA Air Games World Tour.
Consisting of four tour stops the GKA Air Games sought to bring a new format to professional kiting, blending the technical aspects of freestyle with the wow factor of big air. While many athletes utilized this new format to take pitstops during their heats swapping kites and boards, Jesse stuck to his guns and rode the Torch and Stomp throughout the tour. After winning the Jeep Tarifa Pro and finishing in second at the Cabarete Kite Festival, everything came down to the Mercedez-Benz Kitesurf World Cup in Fehmarn, Germany.
With only a 30 point lead on Brasil’s Carlos Mario going into the event, Jesse knew winning the world title was going to be a major challenge, one which he had dedicated his time preparing for. After finishing third in the single elimination round, Jesse marched his way to the finals of the double elimination ladder, bringing the world title race down to the final heat of the year.
Despite his best efforts, a couple bobbled landings would cut Jesse’s world title campaign short as he finished second in the event and tied on the tour standings at 6,234 points. The decision went to Carlos as he had won more event finals throughout the tour as the tiebreaker.
All was not lost as Jesse landed his signature kite-loop double half-cab in the Kite Loop Super Session scoring a 10 and winning the best trick award as a great way to cap off an epic weekend of kiteboarding.
Also joining the madness of the weekend were some of Naish’s best up and coming kiters hailing from Europe. Holland’s Cohan Van Dijk was eager to test his skills against the best in the world after winning the Under 18 Freestyle title at the Belgium Championships earlier this summer. Cohan put in a solid performance, breaking into the top ten with a seventh place finish and also won the kicker session during one of the lay days.
From a history with many twists and turns, its been great to see the GKA step in and create a tour that showcases the uniqueness that kiteboarding is. Along with his second place overall finish, Jesse came away with a newfound excitement for competition and his eyes already set on his 2019 campaign.
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Photo Credit: Ydwer van der Heide | GKA