January 31, 2018, Cape Town, South Africa – Taking the Naish Pivot to all new heights, Naish’s Kevin Langeree reclaimed the crown as the 2018 Red Bull King of the Air with Jesse Richman narrowly missing the podium with a fourth place finish.
The high-flying Dutchman had previously won the event in 2014 and missed it all together due to injury in 2017. This year was a triumphant return to the top step of the podium and joined an elite club as only the second kiteboarder to win two King of the Air titles.
One of the biggest surprises leading into the event was Kevin’s decision to switch equipment and ride the Pivot kite as he has traditionally ridden the Torch for big air events. His decision was reaffirmed as he had set a personal best jump while training in Cape Town, nearing the 100 ft mark by jumping 28.3 meters high recorded by his WOO tracker. With the stakes as high as they are, being dialed-in on his equipment was absolutely essential.
“This year I knew I had to do a big change to keep improving. Together with Naish we worked hard to get the Pivot on the spot, ” said Kevin “The kite gives me so much more air time and control that I knew it was going to perform how I wanted it to.”
Dialed on his kites and board, Kevin had a rocky start to the event with a loss in the first round sending him into round two. From there Kevin rode every round after with a do-or-die mentality and continued to advance. “I had to do all the rounds but that also gave me time to have a great game plan. I knew I had to go big and not hold back when going up again some of the big names. I feel like I preform better under pressure. The heat against Ruben, I was on top of my game landing all my tricks. So that was something I did continue throughout the contest,” said Kevin.
Also returning from injury this year was Naish’s Jesse Richman—a name synonymous with extreme kiteboarding—who had a very similar path through the contest, unleashing some of the most exciting and progressive moves on his trusty 2018 Torch kites and Stomp board. While he didn’t finish on the podium, Jesse still accomplished some of his goals landing a trick that he has been training hard to unveil: the kiteloop double half-cab. As he stated on his Instagram:
“This is a moment I have been dreaming about for a long time… I started attempting the kiteloop double half cab years ago with a vision of doing it at King of the air, horizontal with my kite, straight in a perfect upside down cross, I felt like it would be the coolest thing ever to look back at the crowd and the judges from that position. When I woke up on game day I told myself that I don’t care what happens with the event, all I want to do today is send it and achieve my dream of getting this view… I will say this didn’t go quite like planned, it was a bit out of control and my positioning is a bit off. But I sent it and I did it. First ever kiteloop double half cab at the king of the air (with an extra rotation and a sloppy landing)…. The most powered one I’ve ever done and one of the coolest moments of my life. Years of work for this one moment…. So worth it.”
With the 2018 Red Bull King of the Air under wraps there are still plenty of goals and challenges left, including breaking the 100 foot barrier—a feat Kevin has the confidence he can accomplish with the Pivot. “For sure it’s possible to break the 100 foot barrier on the Pivot. I’ve had a couple of close ones already. It’s just a matter of time,” said Kevin. However this massive jump isn’t the only challenge on the horizon as Kevin looks forward to another adventure. “Next is becoming a dad!! Due date is in one month so that’s very exiting.” With a second King of the Air trophy to be added to his collection, it certainly is an exciting time to be Kevin Langeree, be sure to follow his adventures on KEVVLOG throughout the rest of 2018.
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Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool | Craig Kolesky, Ydwer van der Heide, Tyrone Bradley