Kitesurfers tame chaotic conditions in Zandvoort

Red Bull Megaloop Challenge

Gale-force winds provide perfect Dutch scene for Red Bull Megaloop Challenge.

Five thousand fans braved severe weather conditions on the Dutch coast to see a masterclass in kitesurfing from 16 fearless competitors at the 2017 Red Bull Megaloop Challenge in Zandvoort.

An orange weather code warning was issued on Wednesday September 13 with southwest gale-force winds of 100 kmh causing trees to fall and trains to stop running, however it provided the weather needed to get the 2017 Red Bull Megaloop Challenge underway.

Winds approaching 50 knots faced the high-quality field out in the North Sea with South African Joshua Emanuel making history as the first non-European winner of the thrilling event.

The huge waves produced immense kickers for the athletes to show off their best moves with former world’s highest jump record holder Emanuel fending off Dutch trio Steven Akkersdijk, Lasse Walker and Kevin de Smidt.

The 23-year-old said, “I don’t have any words right now. I’m so stoked, you have no idea! Compared to South Africa, this is a lot harder with tall winds and super gusty.”

Competitors from Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and South Africa lined up for the chance to make it through to the final with the judges forming their scores based on the height, distance, style and execution of the megaloops.

They did not disappoint either with insane jumps measuring up to 15 metres high, 100 metres in distance and an airtime of five seconds thrilling the crowd packed on the shoreline.

Emanuel progressed to the final with Akkersdijk, 2015 champion Walker and De Smidt then took the honours with a stunning megaloop backroll off the whitewater rollers leaving Akkersdijk in second and Walker third.

Judge Christiaan Brouwer revealed, “Joshua was able to do a laid back roll megaloop during jumps that were as high as his competitor’s jumps. That he was able to show these kind of technical details at this height made him the winner.”

Co-organiser Ruben Lenten added, “The Red Bull Megaloop Challenge has never been done in these conditions, the wind was unbelievable! Respect for these guys, it’s been a pleasure watching them today!”