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Red Bull Skyride

3 [IMAGEL=159]World’s elite kitesurfers confirmed for first-ever Australasian contestWorld-leading athletes in the phenomenal new sport of kitesurfing promise a show of moves never before seen in competition when they arrive for the first ever Red Bull Skyride – a five-day international contest kicking off on December 5 2000.Elite international kitesurfers including reigning ‘King of the Air’ Marcus “Flash” Austin (Hawaii) will take to the skies of Mangawhai, 1.45 hrs north of Auckland, against a field that includes 16 top New Zealand men and two top female riders.The Red Bull Sky Ride – a first-time event for Australasia but one of three Red Bull kitesurfing contests internationally – is being held on a remote stretch of protected coastline at Mangawhai Heads. The competition ‘window period’ of five days begins on December 5 2000 to allow for optimal surf and wind conditions for two separate disciplines to take place.A total prize purse of NZ$19,600 is on offer for the disciplines – the Freestyle contest and Hang Time contest. In addition, a long distance race along Ocean Beach in Mangawhai will be held when winds are unsuitable for the Freestyle or Hang Time events. The Red Bull Skyride is Australasia’s first ever kitesurfing contest where prize money is up for grabs.A select 24 athletes were given confirmation of their placement this week. They will compete in heats of four, with rounds aiming to show the kind of explosive manoeuvres, massive air and individual style fast developing in a sport which takes its inspiration from surfing, wakeboarding, snowboarding and windsurfing.Says “Flash” Austin: “It’s a curious combination between surfing and flying – or skating and windsurfing. With really strong winds you can log 40 feet in the air, and it’s hard to put into words how that feels. For me it’s like everything is in slow motion and you are capable of doing superhuman things. It’s very free.”The combination of powerful kites and strong winds offer riders a huge amount of time to get busy with aerials, while the board is used to surf waves or race across the ocean at speeds of up to 50kph. The sport is dangerous and the contest is not for novices.Explains New Zealand champion Kane Hartill, who is also confirmed for the contest: “It’s easy to learn but has great potential for danger. People don’t realise the power of a kite and the hundreds of kilometres of raw force behind its acceleration.” Heats will be 10 minutes in duration with judging in the Freestyle contest being largely impressionistic – points scored on dynamic moves that are likely to have never been seen before in New Zealand. The Hang Time contest meanwhile is all about airtime: The winner will be the kitesurfer who executes the biggest jump and logs the longest time in the air.For a full list of athletes or more information on kitesurfing and the Red Bull Skyride New Zealand contact:Alison SmithMangawhai Media Centre: Ph64-9-431 5572 Fax64-9-431 5573Ph (mob) or Red Bull New Zealand LtdTanya Suddick – Event organiserGavin Pook – Marketing managerPh64-9-378-4581Fax64-9-378-4501**Professional photographs will be available to press at the end of competition. Please contact the media centre at Mangawhai during competition or Alison Smith on Ph021-50-70-20 or check the Red Bull photo archive site at www.redbull-photofiles.comENDS

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