GKA Big Air World Championships – Tarifa 2022
by Chris Chaplow
The GKA Big Air World Championships takes place in the long event window from the 20th of June 2022 to the 6th of July on Playa Lances Sur opposite Balneario.
This championship is one of the international events of the GKA - Global Kitesports Association- World Tour circuit, which in 2022 visits 20 cities around the world. In the Tarifa event, The Qatar Airways GKA Big Air World Championships is the biggest Kitesurfing event ever staged! There are three modalities: freestyle, strapless and hydrofoil.
In addition competitors and fans can enjoy the Kite Expo (trade fair) where 21 brands have stands and a series of lectures and presentations take place. This runs from the 21st to the 26th of June 2022 on the beach-front by the BIBO Beach House, at Playa Valdevaqueros.
Additionally a magazine has been published for this event. View a copy online.
Saturday 2st July
Women's Twin-Tip Big Air Competition
A bright and early start for riders saw the first women’s twin-tip heat kick off around 08.00m. Winds were lighter winds than the Friday, but conditions were still optimal for big air competition.
Hannah Whiteley and Nathalie Lambrecht put on incredible performances in their Round 3 Heat 2. It ooked like a final, both performing some extreme megaloops and boogie loops.
In the last few minutes of the heat Hannah managed to pull off a magnificent front-roll contra loop. But, it was Nathalie from Sweden who claimed the victory in the final minute, landing a clean, powerful double backroll megaloop.
The women's final competed current BAKL Full Power Tarifa champion Zara Hoogenraad against multiple disciplinary world champion and newly crowned GKA Rider of the Year, Mikaili Sol.
Mika commenced with all guns blazing, landing a nicely executed double front roll board-off. Zara answered back with a textbook boogie loop, which she landed consistently throughout her heats.
This only seemed to spur Mika on even more as she went on to pull off another doobie loop. Mika emerged victorious in this heat, showing us that she is undoubtedly the most diverse female rider kiteboarding has ever seen. After only training big air a few days before this event, it was incredible to see Mika take the win in the big air discipline, throwing down moves that her other opponents had trained months for.
Womens Twin Tip Big Air results:
1st Mikali Sol (BRA)
2nd Zara Hoogenraad (NED)
3rd Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE)
4th Michela Pilkenton (USA)
Men's Strapless Big Air Competition
The wind began to drop a little at the beginning of the men's rounds one and two. At one point it was borderline as to whether the competition would continue. These experienced strapless riders managed to make things happen in the 20-knot winds.
One rider who surprised everyone during the men's strapless competition was rookie on tour Gabriel Benetton. In round three, Gabriel won against the event favourite James Carew. James appeared to be struggling in the lighter winds.
Benetton had the heat of his life putting together some spectacular maneuvers such as a contraloop, front roll megaloop and back roll megaloop. He took home the highest score of the day with 25 points in the semi-finals against Camille Delannoy. His win against Delannoy secured him his first ever final on the GKA World Tour.
Meanwhile Airton Cozzolino had been consistent throughout the day landing pretty much all his tricks and sending the crowds crazy on the beach with his soaring megaloops.
The last finale of the Competition kicked off with Airton Cozzolino (ITA) flying through the sky, landing a textbook megaloop. Airton had his feet firmly glued to the board during the heat, landing trick after trick.
It looked like the pressure might have been too much for Gabriel Benetton, the young Brazilian as he struggled to land all his tricks. Gabriel put on an incredible show today but could not match Airton's style, and power. Airton once again adds another World Championship title to his collection.
Mens Strapless Big Air results:
1st Airton Cozzolino (ITA)
2nd Gabriel Benetton (BRA)
3rd Lorenzo Casati (ITA)
4th Camille Delannoy (FRA)
Friday 1st July
In the morning, riders were greeted with light Levante winds and a scorching hot Balneario beach. The wind had been far from a typical Tarifa forecast with an absent Levante (trong easterly offshore) wind. Nevertheless, a window opened up to run the competition on Friday afternoon with strong Levante wind that continued to blow all night. The women's strapless big air riders were the first to take to the water.
Women's Strapless Big air Competition
In the women's strapless big air finals, we saw Capucine Delannoy and Tarifia local Camille Losserand go head to head on the water. Both women were matching each other move for move with Camille pulling off some impressively high rodeo front rolls and back rolls. Nevertheless, it was Capucine who came out victorious with a huge kiteloop right on the buzzer.
Women's Strapless Big air results:
1st Capucine Delannoy (FRA)
2nd Camille Losserand (CHE)
3rd Mikali Sol (BRA)
4th Camille Delannoy (FRA)
Men's Twin Tip Big Air Competition
The Levante wind continued to build as the men took to the water. BAKL Cape Town winner Lorenzo Casati of Italy took all the attention in the early rounds as he was spinning like there was no tomorrow, throwing some insane quadruple front roll boogie loops. Lorenzo made it all the way through to the first semi final, where he faced the Tarifia local hero, Liam Whaley who had so narrowly won his round four heat over Jeremy Burlando also from Spain.
There is arguably no other rider with better knowledge of Balneario than Liam. This man grew up in these conditions and calls Balneario his backyard. Lorenzo gave it everything he had against Liam but he could not defeat the local legend, allowing Liam to advance straight to the final.
Semi-Final number two was a mini-final in itself. The Current BAKL Tarifa Full Power winner Giel Vlugt was up against Andrea Principi. At the start, both riders were matching each other, sending huge double loops, back roll double loops, boogie double loops and, finally, board-off boogie loops. Unfortunately, on Giel's last trick attempt, he had one of the hardest descent crashes of the day. Giel had given it everything, but it was not enough to stop the unbeatable Andrea Principi.
The final of the men's Twin-Tip was an unforgettable moment in kitesurfing history. Andrea and Liam battled it out right to the very last moments, both riders had been neck and neck throughout the heat. In the final minutes of the heat, Andrea made a quick kite change and went straight out to land one of the most monumental manoeuvres of the competition so far with his signature boogie double loop and score full 10 points.
"This was the most extreme move of the day for me. I saw my kite below me and I thought for sure my kite was not going to catch me. Somehow I managed to make it out alive." Andrea Said afterwards.
By comparison Liam who was neck and neck also made a last minute kite change but in the seaweed shallows it was messy in all senses of the word, he fighting to correctly position the cables his glanced of a buoy and there was too little time left to recover and produce something spectacular.
Men's Twin Tip Big Air results:
1st Andrea Principi (ITA)
2nd Liam Whaley (ESP)
3rd Giel Vlugt (NL)
To be honest I was surprising that the this 5m wide carpert of seaweed at Balñarion Beach had not been cleared in advance of the competition by the town hall as some other administrations had employed fishermen to do. It certainly did not look good to the 1.500 viewers on the event's live You Tube feed. Veteran compeditor Arron Hadlow had comment earlier "Can't take the breaking waves quite so well as we have to be further out"
Women's Twin-Tip Big Air Round One
In the final heats of the day, just as the near longest day’s sun was setting, the competition managed to complete round one of the women's big air twin-tip.
Nathalie Lambrecht put on a spectacular performance, landing an extreme backloop megaloop scoring a 9.3 which secured her win in round one of the women's big air.
Another standout rider from the first round was Angely Bouillot. Angely was going twice as high as her competitors and landing some insanely technical tricks. She managed to land the highest score of the day in the women's with a 9.67 for a double back roll megaloop.
Thursday 30th June 2022
After a lay day today, tomorrow (Friday) looks set for a return of Levante winds, picking up in strength from lunchtime onwards. Skippers meeting is at 11.30 hrs so first posible First possible start is 12.00
Wednesday 29th June 2022
As light winds are forcast all day, Wednesday is a lay day for the competition. Next opportunity for competition wind is looking like Friday.
Tuesday 28th June 2022
There is a switch in the wind directioin today as expected. A light levante (easterly offshore) is blowing. Crew are setting up at the Balnario site. Riders meeting took place at 13.00 hrs when the wind was around 15-18 knots, still too light to start running the competition. Judges are keen to run the competition in only optimal conditions (roughly around 25-35 knots). The Judging criteria was announced; 3 tricks count with 10 trick attempts. Judges have decided to put priority on mens strapless big air and then move into the womens twintip big air! In the end there was still not enough wind to run the competiton.
Sunday 26th June 2022
Hydrofoil Big Air Format. The morning started with a skippers meeting with the judges to eplain the Hydrofoil Big Air Format for the day. Heats will run for seven minutes with three minute transitioinsbetween them. Riders have 10 trick attempts with three counting towards their score. Judges will also award and overall impmression score based on the rider's style and expertese. Seven riders are competing in the Hydrofoil Big Air Format; Charles Brodel, Maxime- Luan Desjardins, Joselito Del Rosario, Maxime Chabloz, Jamie Overbeek, Alex Soto, Fin Flugel. This competition started at Valdevaqueros Beach at 13.30 with a 12 knot 'Poniente' (westerly on shore) wind.
In semi final number one it was Alex Soto vs Jamie Overbeek. Alex opted for the inflatable kite which wasn’t giving him the same height and float as Jamie was getting on his foil kite. Jamie was making all his landings on his tricks landing a very nice Backroll board off with a great amount of height. Jamie managed to take the win over Alex.
In semi final number two we had Maxime Chabloz against current world champion, Charles Brodel. Charles was looking very comfortable on the water landing some technical manouvers with plenty of height. Unfortunantly Maxime could not match Charles’s performance and Charles advanced to the finals!
The final started at 15.50 hrs and was between Charles Brodel and Jamie Overbeek.
Hydrofoil Big Air Format results:
1st Charles Brodel (FR)
2nd Jamie Overbeek (NL)
3rd Maxime Chabloz (SZ)
4th Alex Soto (DOM)
Live You Tube stream can be watched and the scoreboard followed on the Big Air World Championship Tarifa page of the GKA website.
Kite Expo (located on the beach-front by BIBO Reataurant at Playa Valdevaqueros opened at 11.00. This is the last day of the Expo. Presentations start at 11.00 with Parque Natural, followed at 12.00 Dakhla Attitude Natural, at 12.30 with F-one presentation, at 13.00 with Willow River - Tonkin with his presurfed project, at 13.30 with FKB presentation and finally at 14.00 with Duotone Presentation.
Saturday 25th June 2022
Kite Expo (located on the beach-front by BIBO Reataurant at Playa Valdevaqueros opened at 11.00. Presentations started at 14.00 with Parque Natural, Ocean Rodeo with Richard Myerscough, Palau Project with Jerome Cloetens, Slingshot Frozen T-Shirt contest, North NGA Giveway.
Friday 24th June 2022
There are a series of techical talks on the main stage at the Expo today. The schedule is 15.00 hrs Duotone Kiteboarding with Matchu Lopes, 15.30 hrs – Onys presentation. 16.30 Dahka Hospitality Group. 17.00 hrs North Kiteboarding with Marc Jacobs, Nick Jacobsen and Jesse Richman. 17.30 hrs FKB rresort. 18.00 Airbrush.
Thursday 23th June 2022
At the expo the 'official' opening ceremony took place at 13.00 hrs. An event for the Mayor of Tarifa and the Regional tourism Minister.
Wedneday 22st June 2022
Kite Expo (located on the beach-front by BIBO Reataurant at Playa Valdevaqueros opened at 11.00. Presentations scheduled were 14.00 Laura Balboa and Francesca Viladecans on Coastal protection, 15.00 Matchu Lopespresenting Duotone Kiteboarding products, 16.00 Flysurfer Olly Bridge and Luke McGillewie on Mojo Pure and at 15.00 a Freewing presentationi including the new NitroWing.
Tuesday 21st June 2022
Kite Expo (located on the beach-front by BIBO Reataurant at Playa Valdevaqueros opened at 11.00. The Official riders’ registration opened at 14.00 hrs and the Opening Ceremony took place on the the main stage at 16.30 hrs. This was followed by the Rider’s first competition briefing.
While there is a light wind forecast for the next few days, there was no rush by the organisors to start the event. There are 61 riders from all over the world ready to compete.
Big Air means jumping high and long and is possibly one of the most spectacular forms of kitesurfing. It always manages to excite the general public especially those who are not familiar with the discipline. In this event points are awarded by height of jump, type of trick, style and reception of the jump.
More than 70 riders have confirmed their presence, for the three disciplines, from different nationalities such as Portugal, Australia, USA, Hawaii, Germany, Cape Verde, Italy, Brazil, South Africa, France and of course Spain.
Locals Liam Whaley, Jeremy Burlando, Lorenzo Casati, Kiko Roig Torres, Matchu Lopes, Nicolás March and Claudia León are competing.
Kiteboarding’s biggest event is set to explode with the first official world titles for Big Air Kiteboarding in Freestyle-Twintip, Strapless and Hydrofoil disciplines.
Freestyle - Twintip
The discipline where competitors perform powered tricks with a Twin Tip board attached to their feet. Twin tip means the bi-directional board used by a freestyle competitor.
The strapless is the modality where the riders sail on a board similar but smaller than a surf board but without any type of anchors to hold the riders feet on the board. It is difficult to imaging until you see it with you own eyes. When a strapless board used in freestyle it does provide the participants with support.
The hydrofoil is the ultimate competition for riders who love freestyle. A small hydrofoil wing under the board lift the bard and the rider just out of the water and the speed of travel increases. In this environment the riders will be able to let rip with their creativity and leave the judges and the public open-mouthed.
On the evening of 26 June there was an awards gala with prizes for the best rider (male and female) and the best stunt (also in the male and female category). There was also be a special award for the best social media contribution.
If you can not come to Tarifa keep up do date with the event scoreboard and live stream on the GKA Kite World Tour website.
Kite Surfing Lessons in Tarifa
Book Kite Surfing Lessons in Tarifa
Tarifa Championship Competition Reports
- GKA Big Air World Championships Tarifa 2022
- GKA Freestyle World Cup Tarifa 2021
- GWA Tarifa Wing Pro 2020
- Tarifa Pro 2019
- JEEP Tarifa Pro 2018
- Tarifa Strapless Pro 2017
- VKWC 2015
- PKRA ProKite World Tour 2014
- Tarifa Masters of Kiteboard 2014
- The Red Bull SkyRide Tarifa 2009
- Kite Board Championships 2008
- bwin Kitesurf Pro Competition 2006
Competition: Playa Los Lances Sur, near Balñario Beach Club Chringuito (Calle Segismundo Moret)