3rd place for Lasse Walker - 2019 Red Bull Megaloop Challenge

Duotone Kiteboarding Lasse Walker Red Bull Megaloop Challenge 2019 Podium

It’s been two years since the Red Bull Megaloop Challenge got the conditions needed to run the event and last weekend, Mother Nature gave the green light in the form of the perfect storm.

Duotone Kiteboarding Lasse Walker Red Bull Megaloop Challenge 2019

16 riders had been waiting patiently for the zero-compromise conditions since November 2018. Riders are selected by the industries most experienced panel of judges based on their rankings, overall level of riding and execution of the legendary Megaloop. Additionally, four spots were up for grabs for video entrees and Kevin Langeree received a wildcard as winner of the Red Bull King of the Air.

At the time of the call, the final list of riders had changed a bit with Ruben Lenten - injured - and Jesse Richman - sadly unable to make it from Hawaii -  being replaced by Oswald Smith and Liam Whaley. 

The action that unfolded for the 4th edition of the event was next level and riders took to the battle ground not only against each other but, also nature’s toughest elements. 

We catch up with Duotone team rider Lasse Walker to hear about what makes this event so unique,  how there’s a certain element of winging it, why the Duotone DICE is his favourite kite and how the Duotone VEGAS is his go-to in 50knts of wind. 

Hi Lasse, what were your expectations going into the event?

It’s always hard to say what to expect in a competition like this. The conditions we need are extreme and pretty rare, which is why us riders have no idea what’s going to happen and how we are going to perform. To be honest, we are still experimenting with our skills during the competition.

Tell us about the other competitors?

The Red Bull Megaloop Challenge is now a competition with the world’s best riders, many of who are Red Bull King of the Air competitors, so I think it’s safe to say we had the strongest fleet ever for this kind of event.

What are optimum conditions for the event?

The Red Bull Megaloop Challenge will only take place in a minimum of 30 knots side shore wind. But over the last years, 40 to 50 knots has been set to be the standard. In my eyes it’s pretty simple: The conditions must be the strongest you’ve ever kited in and even the thought of riding should scare you. That’s when the action gets real extreme!

How is the Red Bull Megaloop Challenge different to the Red Bull King of the Air? 

Although both competitions are Big Air orientated, they differ in unique ways. The Red Bull King of the Air has a 2.5 week window where we wait for a good day with steady strong winds and nice clean waves, a perfect Big Air day. 

With the Red Bull Megaloop Challenge, we wait for the perfect storm to hit which is why the event is given a 7 month window. Based on last year, even that wasn’t long enough for the right conditions to come through, so the event never took place. 

Another difference is that the KOTA riders have usually trained for months or weeks at the spot in Cape Town, so by the time of the event most are pretty comfortable in the conditions. Whereas with the Megaloop Challenge, the conditions are so extreme and rare, that the last time I got the chance to experience them was back in 2017, in this event. 

Duotone Kiteboarding Lasse Walker with Kevin Langeree
Duotone Kiteboarding Teamrider Lasse Walker Megaloop Challenge 2019

What’s the vibe on the beach during the event?

Man, the vibe was insane! I’ve never seen a such a huge crowd packed on a beach, let alone in 50 knot winds. Everybody was wearing ski goggles to cover their eyes and warm winter clothing. Having Ruben Lenten as the MC was keeping the crowd pumped for the competition. His great skills in the sport and entertainment had the whole crowd screaming and cheering the whole day!

What is the judging criteria in the Megaloop Challenge?

The judging criteria is quite simple. You’re allowed to do as many jumps as you like, but the judges will only count the one, best scoring trick. 

This is how they break down the trick:

Extremity 60% — combination of height, power and distance travelled.

Execution and Flow 40% — breakdown: Trick 15% / Angle 10% / Style 10% / Landing 5%

What Duotone gear did you use?

The year I chose to ride the Duotone DICE 9m and VEGAS 8m.  Overall, the DICE is my favourite kite. It’s fast, direct, playful and powerful. That said, in the extreme conditions of 50 knot winds, the 5-Strut C-shape design of the Vegas is as stable and performance orientated as it gets, so that’s where I would choose the VEGAS over the DICE.

Watch the official highlights here