Sunday, April 14, 2024
NewsCape Hatteras Wave Classic 

Cape Hatteras Wave Classic 

The 2019 Cape Hatteras Wave Classic presented by Patagonia went off! We had epic Cape Hatteras conditions, cranking wind and well overhead surf. Everyone was absolutely ripping with crazy airs, barrels and huge hacks. 

With Hurricaine Homberto about 600 miles off the coast, the surf raged with double overhead, meat eating waves and the wind nuked around 30-40 miles per hour from the north. We had competitors from all around the world show up and we got to witness the talent, as well as pure stoke and love for the sport. As someone who had family visiting for it this year, it is an awesome spectator event! 

Moona Whyte stairs down a Cape Hatteras monster o her way to winning $4000.

The Cape Hatteras Wave Classic is an annual event held in September that focuses on wave riding, as well as strapless freestyle. Instead of having the pressure of traveling around the world on a competition circuit with contests that are either wave or strapless freestyle events, this competition combines the two (with a little more focus on the wave riding aspect). It’s nice to have an annual event to show off new tricks and skills that allow us to feel accomplished on everything we worked on throughout the year. We all have a blast and look forward to the next year’s event as soon as the previous year’s is over. 

Keahi de Aboitiz

The Riders

The cool thing about the Cape Hatteras Wave Classic is that it’s an open event and anyone can compete. We get all kinds of skill levels; from people who have only been kiting a couple of years, to riders who have competed internationally and want some of the prize money set forth by Patagonia. We get impressive performances put on by talented and professional kitesurfers. Reider Decker, Evan Netsch, Mark Medima, Jason Slezak, myself and Jesse Kilgour, have competed in the CHWC every year since the first one in 2014. Kevin Langeree made his second appearance this year and Keahi Aboitiz, Moona Whyte and Reo Stevens participated in this year’s event for the first time and got to see some true Hatteras conditions. Getting big named kitesurfers and therefore more coverage will help keep this event exciting and growing. 

Kevin Langeree rocking the straps.

Strap vs Strapless

The CHWC is a kitesurfing event which has never mandated that all riders go strapless. In fact, to include all skill levels the wave classic has included strapped surfboards. Tricks or wave rides performed on a strapless board will be deemed more difficult than the exact same action performed on a strapped surfboard. However this creates a problem because many actions performed while using straps aren’t even possible on a strapless board and therefore cannot be compared. Rarely have we seen straps in the CHWC and when we did they were used by riders to boost their confidence in the conditions and allow them to safely participate. This year at the 2019 CHWC we saw the first professional kitesurfer choose to use straps instead of go strapless. It was fun to watch Kevin Langeree blast off the lips, throw Backrolls off a wave and then get back into it and dangle much higher than any other competitor (I mean he is known for his big air). But these actions seemed unparallel to the others riding strapless surfboards. Kevin is a really talented kiter and probably rode a strapped surfboard better then most anyone in the world could, however, it seems we need to clarify the rule book on exact deductions for using straps so that us competitors can make our own decisions to see if straps would give us a better score or not. We either need to make it easy and have a no straps policy or have an exact percentage decreased (from strapless to straps) on scores so that the results are more transparent. Despite backlash over wearing straps and not really knowing how the judges would score his strapped riding, Kevin Langeree went for it and ended up fairing quite nicely. This modification created concern because competitors don’t know how the judges can really score strapped riding in comparison to the other talented strapless riders. I believe strapped riding is its own event entirely and as a very hardcore strapless rider I think strapless and strapped kitesurfing scores are incomparable. I fear allowing straps to all level riders could change the CHWC event in the future. We will have to see what Real Watersports decides to do for the CHWC 2020.

Mark Meidema tucks into a bomb.

Magic Moments

Honestly everyone’s skills were impressive in the wild conditions but the finals had all spectators electrified. The women started the day with Jesse Kilgour and Adrienne Kina testing out the waters and showing everyone what fearless looks like. Then came my heat against Moona Whyte which unfortunately felt personally hectic with deciding which waves to choose amidst the chaos. Moona and I charged and found some mammoth sets to slice through despite the challenging conditions. On the men’s side Keahi de Aboitiz was pulling into sandy closeout barrels and Reider Decker was carving out turns throwing 30 foot spray. Evan Netsch hucked massive airs. Jason Slezak charged some monster waves with his familiar grace and Kevin Langeree thrilled us all with throwing it back to straps and hucking mega airs of fthe top of some bombers. All in all it was a great event that I’m sure we all look forward to watching or participating in again.

Women’s Final Results

1 Moona Whyte $ 4,000

2 Gage Fichter $ 2,500

3 Jessie Kilgour $ 1,500

Men’s Final Results

1 Reider Decker$ 4,000

2 Keahi de Aboitiz $ 2,500

3 Kevin Langeree $ 1,500

Reider Decker Interview

What did you think of this year’s conditions?

This year we got some classic heavy Hatteras conditions. We had some heavy hitters coming down for the first time so I was hoping they would see Hatteras at close to full potential and I think they got it. The waves were heavy and random, which is Hatteras in a nutshell, so perfect for the contest. The second day of the contest had some crazy waves. There was a large rip current zone where I had to hop down the wave face mid-wave because it sucked out so much. And then another wave looked like it would barrel but no two waves seemed the same. Hatteras anarchy!

What’s the contest format for the wave classic?

The contest format is 50 per cetn your best two waves, 25 per cent your two best tricks, 25 per cent overall impression. 

Do you have a strategy you use in your heats?

I try to get some decent waves and roll with whatever the waves are doing for my heat. Sometimes the only thing consistent about Hatteras is its inconsistency. If you spend your whole heat looking for a particular wave or section you might miss a lot of your heat while looking for it. I try to make two decent air tricks and not get downwind out of the contest zone and lose my board! 

What do you think of the strapped vs strapless riding? 

It’s nice to showcase a different style of riding but I think it makes the judge’s job a hell of a lot harder when people are doing both. Kevin was ripping in straps and showing how epic old school strapped wave riding can be. I had a few people come up to me and say, “wow, now I’m going to try straps again,” which I thought was pretty epic. Some of his turns I watched he would go to the lip and blowout his tail and get held up at the top but then be able to air drop almost the entire wave face to bottom because he was wearing straps. When I watched that I thought that must be really challenging to score. If the same turn and stall was being done strapless it would almost be impossible to make, so it is hard to judge the different style being so far from each other. We were also not really sure how much you got your score decreased for straps. So I think a direct percentage decrease from the final score would be the most accurate way to score strapped riding instead of each judge individually discounting what they thought.

What are you spending the $4000 prize money on?

Already spent! Haha. Gage Fichter and I spent it traveling this winter to New Zealand which was 100 per cent worth it. We traveled the whole island and found some uncharted surf and kite spots. It was a pretty epic trip!

Pull Quotes

“September’s a great time to be in Cape Hatteras and we got lucky with a really fun swell for the event. The highlight for me would have to be scoring a perfect 10 for a super fun barrel in one of my earlier heats. It was tricky conditions with slightly onshore winds but I was stoked to find my way out of a mutant little nugget to everyone screaming on the beach.”—Keahi de Aboitiz

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