NewsPeopleEventsReviewsKOTA 2020
North Kiteboarding - Jesse Richman - Jaws - KOTA - Kiteworld

Mind Games & How to Win KOTA: Kiteworld Issue #105

16 June 2020

Mind Games

In the latest issue of Kiteworld Magazine, Chris Bull interviews Jesse Richman focusing on his psychological edge. Words and video edits by Jim Gaunt.

Jesse Richman is fascinating. The raw ‘radness’ of youth in his early videos seemed to have no off-switch. Constantly full bore, how could that much excitement be real? Honestly, I found all the froth in his videos quite hard to handle with my tea and biscuits. Then I got a short heads-up email from North Shore photographer, John Bilderback. “Hey, look out for this Jesse Richman kid. He’s a charmer and absolutely the real deal.”

I’ve now known Jesse for several years. Our recent conversations revolve around upgrading baby sleep monitoring devices or activity recommendations for kids during a trip to Cape Town. Of course, I have no experience of winning KOTA or charging big waves at Jaws, so perhaps that’s just what he talks to me about...

Despite huge achievements, Jesse is a humble individual who never stops smiling, but his drive for excitement continues to know no boundaries.

At 27 he’s already a double kiteboarding World Champion, has two Red Bull King of the Air crowns, in 2007 set the official world hangtime record of 22 seconds and the kite tow-up record of 790 feet in 2013. He is now one of the most experienced kiters who regularly rips at Maui’s big wave, Jaws, and is unrelentingly wild every time he hits the water.

His savagery is, however, calculated. An intense fitness and ocean endurance training regime helps him to confidently prevail in situations that most of us would find absolutely terrifying.

As well as running CBK Hayling Island, Kiteworld’s chief gear tester, Chris Bull, has also been a senior Red Bull King of the Air judge for several years. He sat down with Jesse back in February when the American was fresh from claiming his second KOTA crown.

Find out in this first video interview how Jesse believes his big wave training methods translate to give him the upper hand when the pressure really strikes at an extreme big air event, like the King of the Air.

"His savagery is, however, calculated. An intense fitness and ocean endurance training regime helps him to confidently prevail in situations that most of us would find absolutely terrifying." 

Photo credits: Dayanidhi Das

Photo Credit: Fish Bowl Diaries

How to Win King of the Air

Photo Credits: Ydwer van der Heide / Red Bull Content Pool

"I want to see tricks done at a level where the rider is scared and performing right on the line of being in control." - Jesse Richman, Winner of King of the Air 2020.

Photo Credits: Ydwer van der Heide / Red Bull Content Pool

When Jesse was 10 and 11 in 2002 & ‘03, he stood on the shore at Ho’okipa watching the original Red Bull King of the Air events take place on Maui. Seeing that glimpse of what was extreme kiteboarding back then in the form of high handle-passes, he remembers thinking, “These guys are insane. There’s something wrong in their head.”

“15 years ago the high handle-pass was one of the coolest tricks before the hardcore wakestyle fad hit,” he remembers. Jesse’s KOTA winning secret is that as his competitors moved away from sent passes in their general riding careers, he’s been playing around with them ever since.

“It was always a trick that I enjoyed; a way to do a handle-pass high. Then about five years ago, here at the King of the Air, I decided that I was going to work at doing the highest handle-pass that anyone has ever seen."

Jesse has had the time to take the craziness of the early days and bring in a science of learning and high-performance strategy to have the sent handle-pass more dialled in than anyone. This year it separated him more than ever and he’s surpised no one else is doing them.

Whatever your stance on bringing unhooked tricks into the event, when they’re done as high as Jesse does them, they’re risky as hell should he miss the bar. “I want to see tricks done at a level where the rider is scared and performing right on the line of being in control.” he confirmed to us.

Jesse’’s now looking at combining the three major KOTA trick catageories (kite loop / board-off / handle-pass) into one crazy trick... as you’ll hear in this second video interview.

Read the full article at Kiteworld Issue 105 here.

Learn more about Jesse Richman and the gear he rides here