GKA Big Air World Championships Tarifa 2023

Rider Mikaili Sol in the "windy city" of Tarifa © Samuel Cardenas
Rider Mikaili Sol in the "windy city" of Tarifa © Samuel Cardenas

GKA Big Air World Championships – Tarifa 2023

by Chris Chaplow

Andrea Principi from Italy came from behind in the final of the GKA Big Air Kite World Championships in Tarfia,  to take the win by the narrowest of margins and earn his second Twin-Tip title in Tarifa.

The 18-year-old had identical points to his Dutch rival Cohan van Dijk—25.57 each—after the remarkable final in 35-knots winds on Tarifa’s Balneario beach.  Principi won the title by virtue of landing the highest trick score. 

Earlier Australia’s James Carew had won the final of the Big Air Surfboard contest convincingly with huge strapless jumps, rotations and kite loops. But during his celebrations he jumped and landed in shallow water, breaking his leg and hence missing his podium glory.

The US’s Mikaili Sol, also 18, secured victory in the women’s Big Air Tip-Twin division. Her dominant performance echoed her win at the tour’s first stop at Lords of Tram in France, in April, and gave her the crown for the second year in a row. It is her seventh world title.

Here is a day be day account.

Tuesday 6th June 2023.

The riders’ meeting was set for an early 08.00 with First Possible Start declared at 09.00. The Levante wind was building up and was 27 kts to 30kts. The women’s Twin Tip Round 2 was the first contest with a start at 09.00. The men’s TT win Tip Round 2 was set to begin around 11.30 and actually started at 12.22.

Womens Twin Tip - Round 2, 3 and final

Round 2, Heat 1 - saw Nora Klement v Jasmine Cho. Wind was up to 31kts-34kts. Cho was struggling to put some scores on the board. The unseeded Klement was landing some solid tricks and building a decent total. Klement won with 12.47, including a kite loop one footer for 4.87. Klement had the dubious pleasure of facing Zara Hoogengaard next.

Round 2, Heat 2 - Francesca Maini v Alessa Mensch. The unseeded Mensch advances, after a strong heat including a 4.97 for kite loop front roll, travelling 36 metres from a height of 8.4 metres. Maini couldn’t quite put it together and suffered a few crashes that sealed her fate.

Round 2, Heat 3 - Martyna Konkel (POL) v Alice Ruggiu (ITA). Konkel took a hard crash and heavy landing. The jetski went ontt the course rescuing her and her 6m kite. The medical team provide first aid and she was taken to hospital. We heard wshe was all right. The wind was now 30kts to 35kts. That gave Ruggiu the win with 7.03 total. The Italian rider was a late stand-in after the selected Michaela Pilkenton dropped out.

Round 2, Heat 4 - Sarah Sadek (EGY) v Justine Avril (FRA). Avril just takes it at the death after a super-tight heat. Her 4.87 for a kite loop back roll gave her a total of 13.74 against the Egyptian rider’s 13.54.

Round 3 consisted of four heats of two riders.

At 11.35 hrs Women’s Final started between Mikaili Sol (USA) and Zara Hoogenraad (NED) v Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE) v Angely Bouillot (FRA). The wind was currently 30kts to 34kts. The women are on 7m and 8m kites. Sol takes the win, with Lambrecht 2nd, Hoogenraad 3rd and Bouillot 4th. That gives Sol the World Champion title for the second year in succession. Now a seventh world title for the 18-year-old. All that despite a huge “caner”, as Lewis Crathern would say, as she crashed on a double mega loop attempt on the 6m kite late in the heat. Fortunately, she rode away.

Mens Twin Tip - Round 2

At 12.22 hrs the Mens Round 2 began, this is 8 heats of two riders.

Round 2 Heat 1 - Luca Ceruti (RSA) v Arthur Guillebert (FRA). Ceruti plays with fire and just squeaks it against former world champion Guillebert. The riders on 9m kites are going massive now and Ceruti scores 7.07 for a kite loop front roll board off and the win with 19.87.

Round Two Heat 2 - Kimo Verkerk (NED) v Lucas Gramstrup (DEN). Verkerk wins comfortably with a score of 20.07.

Round Two Heat 3 - Marc Jacobs (NZL) v Carlos Ramirez (COL). Jacbos takes the win to advance to round 3 laying down three bis sixes to take his total 20.0.

Round Two Heat 4 - Stig Hoefnagel (NED) v Timo Boersema (NED). Boersema takes the win just by less than one point in the battle of the Dutchmen. Boersema changed down to a 5m kite and threw in a couple of double kite loops, one of which he crashed heavily.

Round Two Heat 5 - Josué San (BRA) v Valentin Hoenderop (ESP). San takes the victory when he turns it on in the middle of the heat, coring big with a 7.57 for a kite loop front roll board off to. take his total to 20.84.

Round Two Heat 6 - Beto Gomez (COL) v Michiel Schipper (NED).

Round Two Heat 7 - Karim Mahmoud (EGY) v Stino Mul (NED). Mul gets the win with three solid scores to take his total 19.66 and advance to round 3.

Round Two Heat 8 - Jason vd Spuy (RSA) v Nicolas Gambier (BRA). Van der Spuy gets the win with big scores, including 7.27 that took his heat total to 20.44 and a convincing victory.

Just over 1.000 spectators was the peak of the live feed during the mens twin tip. there was a network error and the results ladder did ot update after Mens Round 2 Heat 1. Round two completed at 14.10,

Mens Twin Tip - Round 3

At 14.45 hrs the Mens Round 3, the Quarter finals began, this is 8 heats (matches) of two riders.

Round 3 Heat 1 - Luca Ceruti (RSA) v Jeremy Burlando (ESP). Huge heat from Burlando with three 8+ scores that took him to the day’s highest heat total for 24.20.

Round 3 Heat 2 - Lorenzo Casati (ITA) v Kimo Verkerk (NED). Casati just does enough to win by less than one point with a total of 20.03. A close call for the Red Bull King of the Air.

Round 3 Heat 3 - Jamie Overbeek (NED) V Marc Jacobs (NZL). Big upset as Jacobs clinches it at the death in his last trick of the heat. He switched kite for double loops in the mid-heat that was just enough to get a 7.63 right at the end.

Round 3 Heat 4 - Andrea Principi (ITA) v Timo Boersema (NED). Reigning Big Air world champion moves forward with three big scores that included a contra loop front roll tic-tac to bring his total to 21.44. One of Andrea Principi tricks was 85km/hr 105m long and 8.35secs in the air.

Round 3 Heat 5 - Aaron Hadlow v GBR) v Josué San (BRA). Shocker. Hadlow out after San scored a massive 7.5 for his last trick to oust the veteran Brit by just 0.19 of a point.

Round 3 Heat 6 - Giel Vlugt (NED) v Michiel Schipper (NED). Vlugt easily takes the win with two 8+ scores with several double kite loops that took his heat score to 22.86 as the wind is gusting to 38kts.

Round 3 Heat 7 - Cohan van Dijk (NED) v Stino Mul (NED). The heat of the day so far with Van Dijk on fire. Three massive 8+ scores, two for double kite loops, a front roll and a back roll that gave him 25.03. Enormous.

Round 3 Heat 8 - Liam Whaley (ESP) v Jason vd Spuy (RSA). Whaley takes the win with a couple of huge double loops, one of which netted him 8.03 to take his total to 23.63. That despite a huge crash by Whaley, which sees him in the semi-final.

Mens Twin Tip - Round 4 Semi Final

Round 4 Semi Final, Heat 1 - Jeremy Burlando (ESP) v Lorenzo Casati (ITA). Casati comes from behind to win the win with the highest score of the event so far, 26.77. After a shaky start he landed three massive 8+ scores. Burlando also got a huge 24.67 that also included two eight. What a heat.

Round 4 Semi Final, Heat 2 - Marc Jacobs (NZL) v Andrea Principi (ITA). Andrea Principi wins 27.33 to 25.33

Round 4 Semi Final, Heat 3 - Giel Vlugt (NED) v Josué San (BRA). Vlugt wins with big scores and a 23.74 total as San cannot really pull it together.

Round 4 Semi Final, Heat 4 - Cohan Van Dijk v Liam Whaley (SPA) Liam Whaley on his back foot most of the event and crashed several times as he chased Van Dijk’s double kite loops. He made a second change of kite, down to a 5m looking like he would attempt a tripple on a gust to pull back. but is was not to be. Cohan Van Dijk 26.9 and Liam Whaley 25.93. Conan through to the final.

Final - Men’s TT Final Lorenzo Casati v Andrea Principi v Giel Vlugt v Cohan van Dijk. Principi wins on equal points with Cohan van Dijk takes the win on countbacks. Principi is world champion for the second successive year.

Men’s Twintip Final
1 Andrea Principi (ITA)
2 Coban Van Dijk (NED)
3 Lorenz Casati (ITA)
4 Giel Vlugt (NED)

Mens Surfboard - Round 2 and 3 and Final

The men’s Surfboard event, continued before and after the Men's Twin Tip Round Three and the final after the Twin Tip semi-final. Round Two consisted of four heats with two riders in each. Round Tree was the semi final consisting of four heats with two riders in each. Final with four riders.

Mens Surfboard Final James Carew v Marc Garriga v Kiko Roig v Keanu Merten. James Carew takes the win, with big scores. but then injures himself in the shallows celebrating. Garriga second and Roig third.

Men’s Surfboard Final
1 James Carew (AUS)
2 Marc Garriga (ESP)
3 Kiko Roig (ESP)
4 Keanu Matt (GER)

Monday 5th June 2023.

Spain’s Liam Whaley and Italy’s Andrea Principi took to the water in the much-anticipated opening clashes in the men’s Twin-Tip division.  The pair, who head the standings in the race for the title, racked up big scores to win their separate heats at Tarifa’s Balneario beach.  Pincipi defeated Whaley in the final of the Big Air Twin-Tip world championships last year in Tarifa.

Mens Twin Tip - Round 1

Both the 24-strong field of men and the fleet of 12 women got through the whole of their first round after a long day of waiting for the Levante wind to kick in on day four of the competition.

As the wind picked up to 23 to 26 knots, the men finally got on the water. In round One there are eight heats of three riders. Spain’s Jeremy Burlando was impressive, earning the day’s biggest trick score with a 7.77 for a contra loop front roll tic-tac. But Josué San (BRA) still gave him a run for his money.

The current Red Bull King of the Air, Lorenzo Casati (ITA), 17, brought his A-game and big scores to take down Beto Gomez (COL). The Dutch contingent of Jamie Overbeek, Giel Vlugt and Cohan van Dijk were rampant, cutting a path through rivals by going big and putting huge scores on the board.

Van Dijk’s biggest scalp was that of former King of the Air Marc Jacobs (NZL), though he will get another chance in round two. Another Red Bull KOTA winner, Britain’s Aaron Hadlow, fared better and won his heat with some good scores, including a 6.13 for a contra loop front roll tic-tac.

But it was the old rivals Principi and Whaley who really showed their intent. In his heat Whaley scored 21.66, including a 7.60 and a 7.53 for smoothly executed kite loop board offs, back rolls and front rolls.

But 18-year-old Principi has not intention of going quietly. He charged his own heat racking up 20.44, including a pair of scores of 6.97, one for a kite loop front roll tic-tac. Afterwards he warned there was more to come.
“I start my heats with a strategy, but if I feel a gust or a lift, then I do a loop, or another loop, and maybe a rotation,” he said. “I feel I only did 20 percent of my tricks today, and not my biggest tricks. It was just a warm up.”

Womens Twin Tip - Round 1

The women’s field in the Big Air Twin-Tip class also saw some standout opening performances. France’s Angely Bouillot’s big win in her heat must have been a warning to reigning world champion Mikaili Sol (USA). The 18-year-old Mikaili will have her work cut out to retain her title. The 12-strong woman’s field completed their first round as well.

It had been a waiting day. The riders’ briefing began at 12.00 hrs. The first possible start for the Twin-Tip Big Air contest was announced as 14.30 hrs. Thirteen 'first posible start (FPS) calls later the women were given a scheduled start of 18.00 hrs.  The finished their first round at 18.47 and the men started their first round at 19.00 and finished at 21.20  just 13 mins before sunset. 

The men’s Surfboard event, which completed just the first round on Friday, will not take place today. The riders have been released for the day.

Sunday 4th June 2023.

“Green” light called for Twin-Tip Big Air competition for Monday, 5 June. Registration for Twin-Tip will run from 10.00 to 11.00, with the Twin-Tip riders’ briefing at 12.00. First possible start for all disciplines, men’s Surfboard and men’s and women’s Twin-Tip, is 13.00.

Saturday 3nd June 2023.

The first call for the Men's Big Air Surfboard competition was Saturday at 14.00 hours. However at 12.15 hrs the race director decided that the wind was not strong enough to continue the men’s Big Air Surfboard competition. Riders were released for the day. Next call will be 16.00 on Sunday, 4 June, when the situation will be assessed again.

Friday 2nd June 2023.

All the riders registered in the disciplines of Surfboard and Hydrofoil were called to Balneario beach this morning. The organization decided to start with the Men's Hydrofoil in the morning and continue with the women's Hydrofoil in the late afternoon.

The men's Surfboard also managed to launch several competition heats, but we will have to find out who takes the victory.  

A large number of kitesurf lovers came to the beach where the GKA Big Air World Championship is being held. 

Mens Hidrofoil - Round 1

Charles Brodel emerged as Hydrofoil champion once again. This is the fourth time for the Frenchman, who continues to be an expert in soft landings after the fastest stunts. Brodel makes the difficult easy and it is at the top that he gets to show his full potential. In the final he faced Jamie Overbeek, Joselito del Rosario and Maxime Desjardins. It would be Jamie and Joselito who would finally join him in the top three podium.  

Men’s Big Air Hydrofoil
1 Charles Brodel (FRA)
2 Jamie Overbeek (NED)
3 Joselito del Rosario (DOM)
4 Alex Soto (DOM)

The girls had to wait their turn and it would not be until the afternoon that Levante returned to blow hard. It was not Mikaili Sol's best day in this discipline, in which she managed to finish third on the board thanks to her great tricks. But on this occasion, her rivals set the bar very high. Capucine Delannoy and Camille Losserand both did their best to win the final . It was the Swiss Losserand who finally won, with some impressive tricks that were the perfect end to the day. Camille Losserand is also a resident of Tarifa, so for her this debut as world champion has a special touch.

“At the beginning there was not so much wind, but by the finals it was good,” she said. “So I managed to do my tricks—even a new trick—so I’m feeling super-stoked. It feels amazing. i couldn’t be more stoked. I’m feeling super-happy to be here with my family. They were motivating me so much. Amazing.” Camille Losserand said afterwards.

Women’s Big Air Surfboard
1 Camille Losserand (SUI)
2 Capucine Delannoy (FRA)
3 Mikaili Sol (USA)
4 Barbara Sgardello (ITA)

The rest of the competition, with the disciplines of Surfboard and Twintip to be disputed, will have to wait for the green light. The first call will be this Saturday at 14.00 hours for the men's Surfboard.

Thursday 1st June 2023.

The organisers in Tarifa have called the riders to attention. The Championship will start on Friday 2nd June 2023 with two disciplines : Surfboard and Hydrofoil. Riders will have to be ready Friday morning at 9 a.m. for the first scheduled departure.

Throughout Friday day, the participants may have to wait for the Levante wind to gain strength. The Twintip competition will have to wait at least until next week, however the organization of the GKA Big Air World Championship has decided to start the World Championship with the other two categories.

Twintip riders will still have to wait for the green light for their category. They need a wind intensity of more than 30 knots (about 56 km/h), which is expected to be sometime next week. From Tuesday, June 6th onwards, conditions could be ideal for this.

GKA Big Air World Championship

The GKA Big Air World Championships is taking place in the long event window from the 26th of June 2023 to the 16th of June 2023 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 2023 visits 15 cities around the world. Tarifa is the fifth event on the world tour which has visited Qatar, Colombia, Cape Verde and France so far this year.

Riders from across the globe compete in the Big Air discipline, where they will perform spectacular tricks and jumps while being judged on their style, execution, and height in three modes – Twin-Tip, Surfboard (was called Strapless in previous years) and Hydrofoil.

In Surfboard, which was previously called strapless, the rider stands on a board similar to a surfboard but without any type of anchoring for the feet. The board used for the Twin-Tip mode does have foot anchors. Hydrofoil is the ultimate competition, for riders who love freestyle and for spectators to watch the speed as the board raises out of the water on the hydrofoil. Overall Big Air is one of the most striking disciplines.

Riders to lookout for are Liam Whaley, Jeremy Burlando, Valentín Hoenderop, Kiko Roig, Javier López, Marc Garriga, and the winners of the 2022 GKA Big Air World Championship Mikaili Sol y Andrea Principi.

Women's Twin-tip champion Mikaili Sol has already started her 2022 title defence with a victory in France, while local star Liam Whaley, from Tarifa, is seeded after a spectacular display at the beginning of April. Italian Andrea Principi won the first edition of the Big Air in Tarifa in 2022, just beating Liam Whaley in a close final.

Capucine Delannoy, the 2022 World Strapless Champion (Surfboard in this edition), is the favorite in this years event. She has been training on the coast of Tarifa to defend her title. The men's winner, Airton Cozzolino, also wants to defend his title, which he snatched in 2022 from Red Bull star, Italian Lorenzo Casati, and Brazilian Gabriel Benneton.

In Hydrofoil, Frenchman Charles Brodel is the main favorite, after defeating Jamie Overbeek and Maxime Chabloz in the 2022 edition.

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

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 Hydrofoil

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

Men’s Surfboard (was strapless)

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 (was strapless)

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

World rankings 2023

Big Air Twin Tip - Mens and Womens

Big Air Strapless - Mens and Womens

Big Air Hydrofoil - Mens and Womens

Tarifa Championship Competition Reports from Andalucia.com


Competition: Playa Los Lances Sur, near Balñario Beach Club Chringuito (Calle Segismundo Moret)