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Stage set for Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Kite World Championships Tarifa

by Ian MacKinnon 26 May 17:55 BST 26 May - 16 June 2023
Stage set for Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Kite World Championships Tarifa © Samuel Cardenas

The planet's best kiteboarders are pumped and ready for action as the competition window for the Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Kite World Championships in Tarifa, Spain, opens today.

The reigning Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Kite World Champions are to return Tarifa's Balneario beach the second straight year to defend their crowns in the biggest kiteboarding event of the season.

The epic event will feature three adrenaline-pumping Big Air disciplines—Twin-Tip, Surfboard and Hydrofoil. Friday, 26 May, marks the opening of the three-week holding period as the GKA team scopes out the best conditions for the breathtaking action.

Women's Twin-Tip title holder, 18-year-old Mikaili Sol (USA), has already opened her account and kept the defence on her crown on track with a stunning win in the first round at the Lords of Tram GKA Big Air Kite World Cup in France.

Spain's Liam Whaley, a past freestyle world champion, is seeded top in the Twin-Tip class after he won at Lords of Tram in Barcarès at the beginning of April with a standout display.

Whaley turned the tables to defeat Italy's Andrea Principi, 18, in the final at Lords of Tram. Principi had won the coveted Twin-Tip world title at the maiden Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Kite World Championships in Tarifa last year, when he overhauled Whaley in the final.

Prize purse €40,000

Both Whaley and Sol will be eager to close out the Twin-Tip world titles in Tarifa. Winners of the Big Air Surfboard (formerly Strapless) and Big Air Hydrofoil world championships will also be crowned at the conclusion of the Tarifa event.

Total prize money of €40,000 will be up for grabs, with the purse split equally between the disciplines, and the men and women.

The GKA Big Air Worlds holding period runs from 26 May to 16 June. That will ensure the event directors can choose the strongest Levante winds—which can blow from 30 to 50 knots—to provide the greatest Big Air show.

An "yellow" alert will be given when the forecast looks good, telling the selected riders to be on standby. A "green" light will be signalled when they should get to Tarifa as soon as possible, as the competition will start a minimum of 72 hours later.

Gala awards evening

During the competition window, the Qatar Airways GKA Awards night will be held for the second successive year at Tarifa's Teatro Municipal Alameda, on 3 June. The biggest names in kiteboarding will be honoured for their achievements and their contributions to the sport at the star-studded gala evening.

But on the water the competition will be intense. France's 16-year-old Capucine Delannoy, the Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Strapless (Surfboard) World Champion, is top seed and has been training hard in Tarifa to defend her crown.

Italy's Airton Cozzolino is also seeded number one after he landed the GKA Big Air Strapless title last year, seeing off tough challenges from Gabriel Benetton (BRA) and reigning Red Bull King of the Air, Lorenzo Casati (ITA), who took the third podium step.

Video entries chosen

In the Big Air Hydrofoil division, France's Charles Brodel is top seed after he took the title last year, winning out over the Netherlands' Jamie Overbeek, 17, with the multi-talented Swiss rider, Maxime Chabloz, the third seed.

Each Big Air discipline has a number of pre-selected riders, dependent on their GKA world rankings. But a number of other places, which varied between each discipline, were chosen from video entries.

Event information

Location: Balneario beach, Tarifa, Spain
Dates: 26 May — 16 June
Official Race Notice and event schedule
All event information here

Here is the full riders' list

Men's Twin-Tip

  • Liam Whaley
  • Andrea Principi
  • Lorenzo Casati
  • Giel Vlugt
  • Luca Ceruti
  • Edgar Ulrich
  • Jeremy Burlando
  • Jamie Overbeek
  • Marc Jacobs
  • Cohan Van Dijk
  • Stino Mul
  • Josué San
  • Evan Klijn
  • Aaron Hadlow
  • Valentin Hoenderop
  • Arthur Guillebert
  • Jason van der Spuy
  • Stig Hoefnagel
  • Nicolas Gambier
  • Timo Boersema
  • Lucas Gramstrup
  • Kimo Verkerk
  • Adalberto Gomez
  • Carlos Ramirez

Men's Hydrofoil

  • Charles Brodel
  • Jamie Overbeek
  • Alex Soto
  • Finn Flügel
  • Joselito del Rosario
  • Maxime-Luan Desjardins
  • Joppe van de Poll
  • Hunter Becker

Women's Twin-Tip

  • Mikaili Sol
  • Nathalie Lambrecht
  • Zara Hoogenraad
  • Angely Bouillot
  • Justine Avril
  • Karlie Thoma
  • Michaela Pilkenton
  • Francesca Maini
  • Jasmine Cho
  • Nora Klement
  • Alessa Mensch
  • Sarah Sadek

Men's Surfboard

  • Airton Cozzolino
  • Lorenzo Casati
  • Camille Delannoy
  • James Carew
  • Keanu Merten
  • Matt Maxwell
  • Kiko Roig
  • Noah Nicolas
  • Javier Lopez
  • Nicolas Abadjiev
  • Leonardo Casati
  • Marc Garriga

Women's Surfboard

  • Capucine Delannoy
  • Camille Losserand
  • Mikaili Sol
  • Kesiane Rodrigues
  • Sofia Monti
  • Zoe Bazile
  • Barbara Sgardello

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