Cape Town - American Jesse Richman out-classed past champions, Denmark's Nick Jacobsen and the UK's Aaron Hadlow to win his second Red Bull King of the Air title in a tightly-contested final.
“This feels incredible,” said the ecstatic Hawaiian who last won the event in 2013.
“This is magical and it is amazing to have my newborn daughter here and share it with this crowd,” he said.
Richman was runner-up to three-time champion Kevin Langeree in 2019 and learned from that and other lesser podium visits.
“I’ve had really good heats leading up to the finals in many years and usually kind of crack in the final, having peaked too early,” he added.
Ironically it was Richman who halted the defending champion’s run in the quarter-finals this year.
“So this year I adjusted a few things and was really confident in my plan and my strategy. It was really cool to see it play out.”
Richman ascended the throne after 34 heats and some seven hours of competition, in a day that saw consistent winds from early on and was the biggest single day of Red Bull King of the Air competition ever.
“To have it all run in one day was kinda like 2013 - just one epic day,” Richman said.
Sportive Director Sergio Cantagalli echoed Richman’s sentiments on the day.
“We managed to score the perfect day. It was arguably the best day we were going to get during the weather window. It is very unusual that we could start so early on in the day and have consistent conditions throughout.”
While it was Richman’s second title, in keeping with the constant innovation of the event, it was a year of firsts at Red Bull King of the Air, featuring a new qualification and event format.
Rounds 1 and 2 (which were made up of video entry winners, wildcards and the four ‘Fly to Red Bull King of the Air’ winners) were completed before lunch time.
From there, the top six riders from the 2019 event joined the fray, seeded into Round 3, providing a spectacular day of action for the 10 000-strong crowd who lined Kite Beach with Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain in the background.
New Zealander Marc Jacobs won the ‘Woo Highest Jump of the Day’ (22m), while ‘Mystic Move of the Day’ went to Jacobsen for a kite-loop board-off that scored a 9.02 out of a possible 10 in one of the earlier rounds.
For the final standings, videos and images from the day, check out www.redbullkingoftheair.com.
If you missed the action, watch the live replay on www.redbull.tv