On Wednesday, Tom, Dave, Mark and I went to watch the Red Bull King of the Air kitesurfing championship at Eden on the Bay. Having watched the teaser vids and seen the pics, I was anticipating extreme action coupled with immense beauty, which is exactly what I got. It’s absolutely unbelievable how strong the guys competing are, both in their core and upper bodies (and I’m not just saying this having been privy to some of their stripped down six packs as they strutted in between flights!). The amount of sheer strength it takes to control the kites in that wind blows my mind – and they still manage to shift their directions and do tricks whilst whizzing back and forwards across the waves between the beach and the deeper surf.Part of me was rather jealous – when the wind lifted them and they went soaring for kilometres above the sea, I think they must have got a taste of what it’s like to fly, and I envied them that. But then I remembered that every part of me is adverse to the sea and to constantly being at the mercy of its unforgiving tides, and I quickly was glad again to be sitting safe and sound on the beach.The competition works on a heat system, with flags showing which competitors are through and who is out in each round. For the duration of the heat, the technical skill, height and execution of the kitesurfers’ jumps is judged, which is why you’ll see things like impressive sounding megaloops, and one-foot-off-the-board-spinning-jump-things-that-look-amazing (that’s its official term).The atmosphere on the beach is awesome as well. A crowd gathers on the shore, with their toes in the sea, inches away from the wave riders as they duck in and out of the shallows. I was so close to one of the competitors at one point, I had to move out of the way of his kite strings! There’s beats playing to keep the good vibes going, and Red Bull merchandise and drinks for sale. It’s colourful, upbeat and exciting, and nothing really separates you from the riders, aside from the waves of course. It is, obviously, incredibly windy, but somehow, you get so caught up in watching the action unfold, you forget you’re being buffeted around like a snail in a turbo jet engine.
The next part of the event will happen any time before Valentine’s Day, depending on when optimal wind conditions occur. Current rumour has it that the Red Bull King of the Air competition part two will take place on Sunday, but keep an eye on @redbullza for updates. It’s worth going to; if not for the addictive adrenaline then for the flipping beautiful views of colourful kites against the backdrop of Table Mountain.