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TheKiteMag 50 Colin Colin Carroll Lorenzo Casasti by Paul Ganse copy 1200x800 - Colin Colin Carroll's Love Letters to Kiteboarding: Kids With Guns

Colin Colin Carroll’s Love Letters to Kiteboarding: Kids With Guns

Colin’s been off on holiday again. This time he decided to forgo his normal key speaker role at the annual Model Railway Enthusiast (MRE2022) convention in Crewe, donned his finest energy-drink-branded baseball cap, and headed off to Cape Town to seek his fortune, much like a modern day extreme sports version of Dick Whittington. What played out before him – through his unnecessarily colorfully polarized ski goggles – he’s been predicting for a while. So he is ultra-smug to fill you in on how three lads, scarcely old enough to buy themselves a pint afterwards, have left the King of the Air establishment sobbing in their hire cars outside KFC Bloubergstrand.

WORDS: Colin Colin Carroll
PHOTOS: Andrew Kellett, Craig Kolesky and Paul Ganse
TheKiteMag 50 Colin Colin Carroll Podium by Paul Ganse 1440x754 - Colin Colin Carroll's Love Letters to Kiteboarding: Kids With Guns

Kiteboarding, since its inception, has had an identity problem. It’s been dangerously similar to other sports, which has given it an air of existential crisis – kiteboarding has been back at its parent’s house aged 32 without a job. Stuck in a suburban bedroom, arrogant enough to be convinced of divine talent, yet without the genuine self-confidence to go out and make something of themselves. The weekend of Red Bull King of the Air 2022, that all changed. And if you’re reading this, you probably tuned into it to see it unfold with your own eyes. Here’s what happened – the podium consisted of a 16, 17 and 18 year old. This is a remarkable feat, considering that previous to this, only five people had won KOTA before. The five same people, in and around the podium. Every year. Total dominance. Until now.

Jesse Richman – Kevin Langeree – Aaron Hadlow – Aaron Hadlow – Kevin Langeree – Nick Jacobsen – Kevin Langeree – Jesse Richman – Marc Jacobs – Lorenzo Casati.

Taking over, and it won’t be long.

Jamie Overbeek is a weapon. In round one, he beat Andrea Principi (reigning World Champion) and the reigning King, Marc Jacobs. He returned to the riders’ tent to a standing ovation. He had just kicked the door down, coming from last place, and had effectively overtaken the pole sitter at the first corner. His Doobie Board Off was 25m+ and gave an old woman an asthma attack.

Andrea Principi. This is the 17 year old that took out the GKA World Championships earlier this year. He’s kiteboarding’s Rafael Nadal – he has come into the sport with a fresh style, and if you watch him before his heats, he is bouncing off the walls. He’s like a caged bull that’s just been let loose, screaming ‘Let’s GO’ in Italian with the sort of oration that requires every muscle in your body. His riding riffs off Janek Gzregorzewski’s board offs, but with less float, more raw power and an ability to fly the kite in shapes that we’ve never seen before. He’s the rider that looked at everything that everyone else was doing, combined it all, and performed all the iterations all-at-once. Double kiteloops with a double front rotation with a board-off. All at the same time. When the kite is at its lowest.

What’s most impressive about his KOTA debut is that at some point during the day, his rib broke. It had been teetering on a fracture in the weeks leading up to the big day. He was spotted riding at 20%, wearing a seat harness just days before. Usually when someone has a rib problem they pull out. It’s the most common Big Air injury. But here was a kid that knew the opportunity in front of him and decided to ride through the pain. No one has done this before. He crashed his first four moves in the final. It must have been excruciating. After the competition, he said that “sometimes, you have to be happy for other people. My friend, my brother, Lorenzo”.

TheKiteMag 50 Colin Colin Carroll Lorenzo Casati by Craig Kolesky 3 1440x754 - Colin Colin Carroll's Love Letters to Kiteboarding: Kids With Guns

It’s all desire

No one who knows anything about anything predicted Lorenzo Casati as the next King of The Air. He has been resting in the shadows of Andrea, who has had one of the most successful years in kiteboarding competition, ever. Lorenzo has been in the wings, waiting for his time, whilst his sparring partner stole the show. Everyone feared Andrea. Until round one, where Lorenzo showed the kiting world that the 26th November was going to be his day – going as high as the highest jumping riders whilst showing that he had the most technicality, too. Then he’d change kite, take a 6m and show that he had the best double kiteloop game, too. In between heats, he sat in the dunes with his father, Renato Casati, away from the hype and hysteria of the rider’s tent. The pair of them were studying the scores. All day. Looking for trends and changes. Strategically, they mastered KOTA. Lorenzo started on an 8m, got the big scores on high complex rotations, and then changed down to do the doubles. Andrea did the opposite in the final, and then changed once more to a 5m in order to pursue even more exotic loops. You lose a minute every time you pit-stop to change kites. This didn’t pay off.

Lorenzo took the title with a considerable margin. They say he has a different approach to loops to anyone else. When he leaves the water, his kite is not yet at 12. It hits the zenith only when Lorenzo apexes, too. This means a later loop execution, but more height. This technique has been made possible by modern kites’ ability to regenerate line tension – try looping this late on a C-kite and you will get maimed.

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