Red Bull Megaloop Challenge '17
Storm chasers flocked to the dutch coast of Zandvoort to compete in the Red Bull Megaloop Challenge. Hosted by Ruben Lenten, the invite-only event saw textbook conditions and show stopping performances by the world’s best riders.
Lasse Walker was there to defend his title, Lewis Crathern took charge of the Live Stream and Aaron Hadlow was there to support the event and share the mic at times. The event was big, inspiring and straight up crazy. We caught up with Lasse and Lewis following the major success of the competition.
Lasse: Congratulations on 3rd place! What makes this event so good?
"The special thing about the Red Bull Megaloop Challenge is that it’s all about 1 trick. You can do 5 different Megaloop variations, but only 1 will be taken into account. Also I think it’s the only kiteboarding event in the world that’s really waiting on these extreme conditions which are even more hardcore than the Red Bull King of the Air in Cape Town!"
Tell us about the challenges you faced?
"Pffff! The first challenge was that I was in the very first heat of the day. Standing on the beach in 50 knots of onshore wind and sand blowing everywhere, the conditions are extremely tough and challenging! Even riding upwind requires full focus, due to the gusty conditions ranging from 30 to 58 knots!"
You almost had a nasty crash. What went through your mind as you flew towards the crowd on the beach?
"Ah yes. Watching it back on film it looked very painful, but luckily I didn't get hurt and I only broke a small nail which doesn’t worry me. I took off quite far out as I felt a good gust coming and saw nice kicker. So off I go, looping the kite and after the loop I got another big gust, which really took me straight towards the beach full speed.
In that moment I couldn’t do much except hope for the best. I landed on the beach and flipped over a few times. Luckily I managed to release the kite, the crowd caught the kite and no one got hurt. I felt so stupid that I had let this happen. Thankfully I was allowed to continue so I had to get my focus back and scored the highest score of the day with a 9,5!"
The 2018 Vegas is built for this style of riding. How did it perform in such extreme conditions?
"I feel so lucky to have the best gear out there. I trust it 100% and am confident with how it all works. Flying a 7m C-kite in 30-58 knots is very extreme, but it’s unbelievable how good the kite performs and keeps its shape. Ralf - the designer of the Vegas - told me that the best Big Air setup is to have the front lines on high depower. This really gives more control, lift and hangtime in strong winds.
My advice to riders is to try out all the different settings on their gear as it really makes a big difference."
What’s next for you and how will you be preparing for the KOTA?
"I’m hoping for another big storm to hit the Dutch coast. The Megaloop Challenge really motivated me to chase the big winds. This year I’m really focusing on getting fit and in shape so I can hit Cape Town ready to train hard and feel 100% confident at the KOTA. Last year I came 4th, only 1 place away from the podium. Maybe this year is my year."
“The RedBull Megaloop Challenge is a really special event as it only happens in Holland/Zandvoort when the big storms arrive. A 48 hour notice is sent to the riders explaining it’s going to happen, then it’s showtime.
In 2016 a forecast never looked promising enough to run the event, so the 2017 version couldn’t off come sooner. This event is my chance to broadcast my favourite discipline to the world on a huge scale. Streamed live via RedBull TV the event is a great showcase for Big Air Kiteboarding. The action is intense and the day seems to fly by as the riders boost over 20 meters trying to record the biggest ‘Megaloop’ to get through to the next round.
In one ear the director tells you to cut to commercial in 30 seconds whilst you’re delivering the statistics from the previous heat. At the same time you see the biggest move of the day out the window and you spill your coffee whilst standing up in a rush to see the landing! The pressure to deliver clear, concise and efficient commentary in this environment is addictive, I love it! And of course there was time for a quick ride myself.”