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It's a wrap! Red Bull King of the Air 2020

On Thursday 6th February, 24 riders from twelve nations went to battle in over 30 knots of wind, making jumps of over 20 metres and pulling off the most extreme moves ever seen at King of the Air. By the end of the day, Hawaiian Jesse Richman would claim the coveted African Trophy.

Here's the blow-by-blow account from Kite Beach, Cape Town, where North team riders Jesse Richman, Nick Jacobsen and Marc Jacobs went to battle with the best in the world.

10 am. Rider Briefing.

It was already blowing 30 knots, and nerves were palpable as the riders buckled in for the seven-hour event ahead. With only 15 minutes to prepare for the first heat, they were straight into it.

Round 1: Marc Jacobs

New Zealander Marc Jacobs was to come up against two South African locals; Stuart Downey and Jason van der Spuy. Marc had been training hard to perfect his left side jumps, in line with Kite Beach kickers and looked sharp. Despite the choppy conditions, Marc stomped a backroll kiteloop with a tic-tac and cruised straight through to Round 3. 

Making history in Round 1 were wildcard AIRTON COZZOLINO, the first and only strapless rider, and ANGELY BOUILLOT, the first female to compete in the event. Both were the talk of the town, but unfortunately after a couple of big wipeouts, neither made it past Round 2. 

Marc Jacobs Video Red Bull King of the Air

Round 3: Marc Jacobs, Jesse Richman, Nick Jacobsen 

The first North rider to compete was Marc Jacobs. In Heat 13, he was up against one of the crowd's favourites, Lasse Walker from the Netherlands and Ewan Jaspan. Marc landed the biggest back-loop dangle pass King of the Air has ever seen, followed by the only Kung Fu pass ever landed at the event while heading out to sea. 

Marc was on fire and won the heat by 7 points, taking him straight to the quarter-finals.

Next up from North was Jesse Richman, versus Joshua Emmanuel and Reno Romeu, three very experienced riders. Jesse looked comfortable from the get-go, landing a boogie loop with a grab. He then threw a massive back loop handle pass, getting a lot of height and a lot of hangtime on the Orbit. With a top score of 8.42 for this trick, Jesse soared through to the quarter-final. 

Into Heat 17 already and Nick Jacobsen, the crowd’s favourite, was against Stuart Downey and Antonin Rangin from France. With his signature backroll mega-loop with a board off, Nick took to the skies. This won the judges over and Nick was straight through to the quarter-final. 

Photo Tyrone Bradley/Red Bull Content Pool

Quarter-finals: Marc Jacobs v Lewis Crathorn, Jesse Richman v Kevin Langeree, Nick Jacobsen v Antonin Rangi

The event was gaining momentum, and by the quarter-finals, the crowd had doubled in size. 

First, Marc Jacobs competed against Lewis Crathorn. Lewis, between competing, was also commentating at the event. Marc landed a clean backroll dangle pass, (himself and Jesse and were the only two in the competition to land this). After a backroll board-off tic-tac, Marc beat Lewis and was through to the semi-finals. 

It was getting even more intense as last years' finalists Kevin Langeree and Jesse Richman, went head to head in the quarter-finals. 3 x King of the Air Champion, Kevin Langeree, was no match for Jesse who stomped another dangle pass early on, scoring a whopping 7.8. The Hawaiian only needed to land three tricks to impress the judges and was through to the semi-finals against teammate, Marc Jacobs. 

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