The Battle for Mr Big

As the months have ticked by and the kiteboarding seasons have come and gone around the globe, thoughts have once again returned to the iconic beaches of Cape Town and to the renaissance of Big Air. In this new ‘quantifiable’ world that we are living in it’s all about the numbers. And for 2017 the only number anyone cares about is “30”, and who can break that magic 30 meter barrier… There are two contenders who are clear favorites – Joshua Emanuel and Nick Jacobsen – and both are currently in town waiting for the wind to kick in and for those rider-defining sessions to begin. What are they doing while they wait? Watching old Rocky movies would be our best guess…

Joshua Emanuel

Q: What set up do you use when conditions are ON for some record breaking?
A: My prime size to ride would be my 9m XR5 on 23m lines and my choice of board would be the imperator 6.

Q: Can you tell when you’ve nailed a big one?
A: Yes, when you have a big jump you know it. You get this crazy feeling in your stomach and all you want to do is check your score to find out how you did!

Q: How have your sponsors worked with you to create equipment to enable you to push things higher?
A: I have been working with CORE over the last year improving small things on the XR5 which was released this year. I will be spending a lot of time on the kite this year to fine tune it to go even higher!

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Q: What is your perfect kite size and wind strength for record breaking?
A: I feel for me its either my 8m or 9m XR5, wind strength ranging from 35 to 50 knots, with a nice four foot kicker is my perfect conditions.

Q: How can do you minimize the risk of injury?
A: I spend a lot of time in the gym ensuring that my body is in good shape to avoid injuries. Stretching before sessions helps me to be warmed up and ready for what’s to come. I also ride in a impact vest when I’m going out for a big session to play it safe.

Q: What does your mum/girlfriend/gran think of your Big Air antics?
A: Currently single but my mom generally thinks it’s amazing – she just doesn’t like it when I’m riding gnarly strong winds and big waves. But she gives me her full support!

Q: What has WOO done for this part of kiting?
A: I think the device has pushed us to go higher as it’s created a bit of game of who can go bigger. Which leads to people pushing themselves more and more.

Q: Would you rather be top of the WOO rankings for the rest of time, or the top of the podium at this year’s KOTA?
A: I would have to go with top of the podium of KOTA. That’s been a dream I have been chasing for many years. It’s also the biggest kiting event in the world with the best riders selected for it…

Q: You guys are at the top of the leaderboard, but are there any other riders we should keep our eyes on who might sneak up on you?
A: I defiantly think we have to watch out for a few people. Steven Akkersdijk being one of them as well as Gijs Wassenaar who has also logged some decent scores.

Q: What makes the perfect Big Air location, and is there anywhere better than Cape Town for going big?
A: For me it’s having super strong winds that are clean and not to gusty, and the waves not to big around 4 to 6 foot. That’s why Cape Town is so perfect: the wind and waves all work perfectly together giving you exactly what you need. And NO, there’s nowhere better than Cape Town for Big Air!

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Nick Jacobsen

Q: What set up do you use when conditions are ON for some record breaking?
A: I use a 135 Cabrinha Ace board for almost everything that I do. Then I’m on the Cabrinha Switchblade with standard 22m lines.

Q: Can you tell when you’ve nailed a big one?
A: I can definitely tell. It’s a feeling that so hard to explain. Somewhere between being a little nervous and extremely excited at the same time!

Q: How have your sponsors worked with you to create equipment to enable you to push things higher?
A: I work very closely with Cabrinha to reach the goals we have. In this case we have been tuning the kites a lot. Different tweaks, and adapting Dacron and material reinforcements here and there make a big difference.

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Q: What is your perfect kite size and wind strength for record breaking?
A: That is by far the 9m Switchblade and with the wind nuking!

Q: How can do you minimize the risk of injury?
A: This part of the sport doesn’t come without risk. It’s a very dangerous addiction that you can minimize by always checking your lines, eject system, stitches in the kite, and of course you need to have the right mindset for it.

Q: What does your mum/girlfriend/gran think of your Big Air antics?
A: They all currently support it!

Q: What has WOO done for this part of kiting?
A: The WOO certainly plays a big role. I have always been into Big Air. But being able to measure exactly how high we go definitely pushes us to try and reach newer and greater heights.

Q: Would you rather be top of the WOO rankings for the rest of time, or the top of the podium at this year’s KOTA?
A: Hmmm… Neither of the above, that would kill the game! I love the race to 30m between Josh and I. KOTA, sure I´d like to be in the middle of that podium again.

Q: You guys are at the top of the leaderboard, but are there any other riders we should keep our eyes on who might sneak up on you?
A: Yes for sure. Kevin is RIGHT there. Lasse walker, Ruben Lenten and Ross Dillon are also flying quite high. I´d like to count Graham Howes in there too, but naaah!

Q: What makes the perfect Big Air location, and is there anywhere better than Cape Town for going big?
A: I don’t think there is anywhere better. It’s the combination of kickers and wind. Cape Town is ideal for this. It has just what it takes. And I’m so used to riding here that I feel comfortable in pretty much all scenarios and conditions.

This article originally appeared in TheKiteMag #23. To subscribe, go here.

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