Ozone’s Big Air team rider Jamie Overbeek is set to do battle in the first Porsche Golden Ticket event. The victor in the all-or-nothing qualifier heat will win a coveted spot in the iconic Red Bull King of the Air contest in South Africa’s Cape Town.
Dutch teenager Overbeek finds himself up against two compatriots in the newly-launched Porsche event for riders who have not previously competed in KOTA. One heat of around 15 minutes will determine who advances into the main Red Bull contest at Kite Beach on Blouberg Strand.
“This is a big thing for me, finally getting the chance to compete in KOTA if I can win the Porsche qualifier,” said Overbeek, still only 16. “It’s been a dream of mine for many years.”
Overbeek and his two Porsche qualifier rivals—Cohan Van Dijk and Evan Klijn—secured slots when their video entries of their Big Air tricks were chosen by the KOTA judging panel as the best three novices.
The Dutch Ozone rider, already a veteran of five major international Big Air events, picked out five immense tricks from the past year to fill his one-minute video. Included in his reel was a “doobie loop, board off with a late back roll” and a “triple back roll, kite loop board off”.
Each trick was tailored to the KOTA judging criteria, with the height of the jump commanding most attention and 70 percent of the scoring. But the judges also looked for style and variety of the tricks performed.
By itself, the video alone might have been enough to propel Overbeek into the main KOTA contest to meet legends like Kevin Langeree, Aaron Hadlow and Liam Whaley. But the Porsche Golden Ticket came with the added bonus of help with travel and accommodation that the qualifiers to the main contest do not receive.
Overbeek, who has already visited Cape Town twice, has been training on its storied beaches for several days. The Porsche Golden Ticket qualifier will be staged the day before, or just ahead of the start of KOTA, which has a holding window from 24 November to 9 December.
Riders, judges and fans must wait for the arrival of the Cape Doctor, a summer south-easterly wind that blows in excess of the 30kts that is deemed almost a minimum for the competition to take place.
Overbeek already has a plan. For the Porsche qualifier he will deploy his standard repertoire of high-flying, complex tricks. But he will keep a close eye on his rivals and has new, riskier tricks that he will go for if he feels he is falling behind and needs an extra edge.
He also knows the kites and board he will choose, depending on the wind. A 132cms Ozone Code V3 that is fast and cuts through any chop is his favourite, while he will use Ozone Edge V11 in 8m
2 or 7m 2 for megaloops, with 6m 2 Ozone Enduro V4 for the double kite loops that have become almost standard in Big Air.
No matter how big the stakes or the scale of the competition, Overbeek retains his cool and is not affected by nerves.
“When I’m riding my heat, I don’t feel a lot of pressure on me,” said Overbeek. “I look at what the others are doing and do my best to do the same stuff, or do it a little bit better. But I don’t get overawed by the big names. They’re just rivals and everyone’s friendly before the heat and wishes each other the best.”
words: Ian MacKinnon/Ozone