Dutch teenager Jamie Overbeek seized the second podium step at his first Global Kitesports Association (GKA) Big Air World Championships final in the hydrofoil division in Spain.
The Ozone Big Air team rider, just 16, landed a series of stunning, high-flying tricks in the climactic head-to-head battle in the kiteboarding mecca of Tarifa.
Overbeek switched between an orange 9m Ozone prototype tube kite and a 13m Ozone foil kite. He used both kites to great effect in about 20kts to 24kts of “light” Poniente breeze to advance to the final.
Ozone’s young rider put down a marker when he opened the final with a huge “boogie loop”, before moving on to a “kite loop with a late back roll”, and a “doobie loop”. Those tricks were once only executed by Big Air twin-tip riders in winds approaching 40kts.
But in the end Overbeek was just beaten to the Big Air crown by the reigning Hydrofoil World Champion, France’s Charles Brodel. After a wobble at the start of the final on the sixth of the championships’ 18-day holding period, the Frenchman’s experience showed in his greater consistency that was enough to take the win.
Overbeek was pleased with his performance in the final and had expected to make it far in the competition.
“It was pretty hard because the high tide came in and the waves were pretty big,” said Overbeek. “The wind became lighter and gustier. So it was hard to get some height. But I did some good tricks. Overall, it went well and I’m happy with my performance.”
During the match-up he was acutely aware of what his rival was doing on the water but took it in his stride. “I’m never nervous,” he said. “In competition if it goes well that’s good, and if doesn’t go well, that’s just how it goes.”
Kite hydrofoiling is one of the fastest-growing areas of the sport, as the foil-board has unlocked the potential to go kiting and go big in much lighter breezes than with the traditional twin-tip boards.
Riders like Overbeek, who sometimes pair the hydrofoil with a foil kite, can achieve massive heights and huge hangtime. At the Big Air Worlds, Overbeek chose a black Ozone foil kite in his semi-final battle against the Dominican Republic’s Alex Soto.
During the seven-minute heat, Overbeek achieved much greater height and glide than his rival to take the win. In one jump he hit 14.9 metres and threw in a double back-roll with a board-off, to the delight of the crowds on the beach.
In the final, as the wind got more gusty, Overbeek waited until the last minute to decide to switch back to his 9m Ozone tube kite. He had already used it in round three against Germany’s Finn Flügel to score two incredible, perfect 10-point tricks: a “doobie loop” and a “kiteloop, late back roll with an added rotation”.
Now Overbeek faces another stern test in the upcoming GWA Big Air World Championship in twin-tip. In the opening round the teenager faces two legends of the sport, Jesse Richman (USA) and Aaron Hadlow (GBR), a challenge he relishes as he says every athlete is “insanely good” at this level of competition.
Words: Ian Mackinnon
Photos: Samuel Cardenas