Kiwi Marc Jacobs celebrated his 32nd birthday in style when he beat three-time champion Kevin Langeree and rookie Stig Hoefnagel in an action-packed final to secure the Red Bull King of the Air 2021 title in Cape Town, South Africa - the most extreme international event in kiteboarding.
Jacobs, who claimed the iconic trophy after 22 heats and six hours of competition spread over the two days, said: "I'm beyond stoked with the win. It's been four years of full-on dedication to make this come true. The fact that it happened on my birthday and that it played out exactly how I envisioned it is just crazy. It feels so good. We had a really good training season in New Zealand from June to October, so coming straight here was perfect timing.”
Event Commentator Jim Gaunt said: “It’s unbelievable how he has transformed his riding to perform in both directions – left foot forward. Clean, technical, powerful. He just keeps it coming, stomp after stomp after stomp.”
After a quarter-final against North Team Rider Tom Bridge, Jacobs came up against Liam Whaley in the semi-finals, with the points playing in his favour. Three-time champion Kevin Langeree narrowly beat the megaloop-master Nick Jacobsen, progressing through to the finals against rookie Hoefnagel and Jacobs.
Jacobs won the event with two Frontroll Contraloop Boardoff, a Boogieloop Double Rotation and a very high overall Impression Score of 9.08, to gain a total score of 32.28. The fact that he pulled off 16 landed tricks versus his competitors nine put pressure on his competitors early in the heat. He rode with incredible power and precision.
Jacobs said: “I completely changed my game plan two years ago, it’s taken hard work and dedication. I’m no-one special, I just worked my ass off”. 12 x NZ Kiteboarding Champion, Jacobs competed on the World Freestyle Tour for 10 years before turning his skills to Big Air. This was his 5th King of the Air Contest.
Jacobs is an International Team Rider for Auckland-based North Kiteboarding, and spends a good deal of his time testing with the North Product Team here on the constantly windy coasts of Aotearoa, New Zealand. North Product Manager Uli Sommerlatt said: “Marc has trained so hard for this and shown so much dedication and commitment. He’s the full package! Well deserved, what an athlete. When he won he brought tears to my eyes.”
Brand Director Mike Raper agrees: “Marc is a passionate kiteboarder who is also extremely humble. He has dedicated his life to kiteboarding and NZ should be so incredibly proud of this amazing athlete. I know Marc’s recently been working with a sports psychologist, which has helped him to visualise the win. We’re so excited to see where he takes it next.”
Not only did Marc take a well-deserved win, it was also his birthday, and only three days before he flew out for the competition, he married his sweetheart Sophie. The wedding took place in Waikato during lockdown, so her terminally ill Mum could be there for the wedding day. Marc is returning to New Zealand to MIQ for two weeks on 5 December.
The NZ kiteboarding community has suggested making the 21st November “Marc Jacobs Kite Day” - an NZ public holiday.
New Zealand Kiteboarder Marc Jacobs crowned Red Bull King of the Air in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Tyrone Bradley
Find out more about Marc Jacobs HERE
RIDER NAME: MARC JACOBS AGE: 32
HOMETOWN: TAURANGA, NEW ZEALAND, LIVES IN AKL
BEST RESULT: WINNER 2021, SEMI-FINALS 2020
MEMORABLE: FIRST TO LAND A BACKROLL BOARD-OFF
QUIVER: ORBIT KITE 9M OR 10M, NAVIGATOR 45-50, ATMOS 138, FLEX
GO TO TRICKS: BOARD OFF ROTATIONS, CONTRA LOOPS AND KUNG FU HANDLE PASSES
WINNING TRICK: FRONT ROLL CONTRA LOOP BOARD OFF
Here is all you need to know about the Red Bull King of the Air:
- Traditionally run in a strong wind weather window from late January to early February, the big-air kiteboarding event took place in great Kite Beach conditions in the new waiting period from late November to early December.
- With non-elimination Round 1 completed on Saturday, the forecast looked ideal to finish the event on the Sunday, with winds predicted to reach around 30 knots (55km/h) south-southeast from 14:00.
- Heralded by the iconic 'table cloth' of cloud being pulled over Table Mountain, the infamous Cape Doctor wind showed up fashionably late (just before 15:00), but didn't disappoint and stayed constant throughout the afternoon - giving athletes enough of an opportunity to perform.
- It signalled a new era in the sport - something which the event has been known for throughout its history. Heats were close with the impression score often being the heat decider, while Spaniard Liam Whaley bagged the Mystic Move of the Day thanks to a front roll kiteloop board-off.
- Sportive Director Sergio Cantagalli declared: "The sport is growing and developing fast. We are keeping track with that. They are fast! It is exciting times for the sport. Also we have a new King, he was consistent throughout and he brought a lot of technical moves with extreme height."
For more information and to watch the Official Replay visit our Red Bull King of the Air 2021 Event Page HERE
(Final heat: 3h22min)