Unforgettable Showdown in Zandvoort
Andrea Principi and Liam Whaley's Thrilling Battle at the Redbull Megaloop Kiteboarding Event
After four years of waiting for the perfect storm, 16 of the world's best Big Air Kiteboarders dropped everything. They ascended on Zandvoort, Netherlands, to vie for the title of the most extreme kiteboarding event in the world, the Redbull Megaloop. Kicking off in 2013, the Megaloop Challenge came to the Netherlands for the first time and has since only become more technical and highly regarded amongst the big air community. The Netherlands has long been considered prime breeding grounds for big air kiteboarders, having fostered local legends like Rueben Lenten, Kevin Langeree, Lasse Walker, and Pippa Van Iersel, amongst many talented others thanks to its frequent extreme storm conditions.
To evolve along with the sport's progression, the Redbull Megaloop has a team of professionals forecasting the strongest day of the year and has continued to push their threshold for wind higher and higher, having said to be looking for 50kts to start the contest. After identifying the perfect storm to bring the Redbull Megaloop once again to the shores of Zandvoort, the "GO" notification was sent out, giving the athletes only 48 hours to arrive.
As the event commenced, winds hovered around 35 knots, with riders commonly choosing 9m kites. With conditions improving throughout the day, many riders sized down, and this is when things really got exciting. By round 3, the wind had fully kicked in, and the competitors were flying to impressive heights at a new level of extremity. Duotone athlete Liam Whaley, advanced through the early rounds with relative ease despite the challenging conditions to meet some tight competition before earning his spot in the semi-finals. Only needing to land one perfectly executed trick to place his highest score, Liam played his cards smart. He posted a solid score nearly from the moment the buzzer signaled the start of the heat, and from there, he searched for the perfect opportunity to improve upon his score. His moment came, landing him a score of 7.22 for a stylish and powerful Megaloop Board Off Late Backroll with a textbook landing.
Teammate Andrea Principi took to round 3 with a vengeance, landing several well-executed and powerful maneuvers right out the gate, which gave him an early lead posting a 7.92 for a massive Doobie Loop. Throughout the remaining minutes, Andrea continued to put on an impressive show throwing powerful loops with precision and versatility even though his earlier score would secure his place in the semi-finals. Andrea was buzzing with adrenaline coming off the water, stating in his post-heat interview that he was "finally getting proper winds" and that "this was the warm-up. Now we go big!".
In the semi-final heat number two, Liam and Andrea would meet each other for the second time in the event alongside Jason Van Der Spuy and Jamie Overbeek, each a formidable competitor. As the heat kicked off, the winds began to peak, which combined with a shifting tide, proved to be an exciting heat despite the increasingly challenging conditions. Andrea and Liam both posted high scores early on in the heat that held firm despite their challengers' best efforts. Andrea's early lead was thanks to an impeccably executed Doobie Loop variation that he came into with impressive speed, showing total control from start to finish and reaching a height of 22.3m while traveling a distance of 154m, which would be one of the largest jumps of the event. Liam landed a stylish Megaloop Backroll Board-off with a grab, earning him a solid score before taking a crash that would separate him from his board, which he described as being an "intense" moment in the competition. After learning that his trick from early on in the heat was enough to secure him a place in the final, Liam exclaimed that he was "super stoked. The conditions are amazing, and my kites are working really well".
Our athletes charged into the finals with maximum energy and intensity to fight for the win. From the start of the heat, all four finalists were sending extreme loops with precise technicality, all of them gunning for the same goal. But yet again, Andrea pulled out with an early lead landing a massive Doobie Loop with added rotations. However, as is expected in the final, the level of competition continued to rise, with the other finalists Cohan Van Dijk and Jeremy Burlando keeping the pressure high. Liam also came out firing, landing a Doobie Loop, followed by an almost flawless Double Backroll Megaloop Board-off, and then again, posted a high score with a 20.8m Megaloop late backroll. But it would be Andrea's S-loop with a Board Off mid-heat that would improve upon his earlier score and send the crowd on the beach, as well as the announcers in the booth, reeling.
Straight from the water, Andrea learned he had just won the most extreme kiteboarding event in the world. What followed was excitement and stoke on an entirely new level. Finding his composure after a well-deserved moment of celebration, Andrea comments, "It was a dream competition, kite low, let's GO!"
We want to send out a huge congratulations to our athletes! We are incredibly proud of your impeccable performance on the world’s largest stage.
1st - Andrea Principi (ITA)
2nd - Liam Whaley (ESP)
3rd - Cohan Van Dijk (NED)
4th - Jeremy Burlando (ESP)
Follow Liam Whaley's journey as he battles the extreme currents, nuclear winds and fierce competitors all the way to the podium.