GKA Freestyle World Cup Tarifa 2021
by Chris Chaplow
After a two year wait, the GKA Freestyle World Cup was back in Tarifa from 22 to 27 June 2021. What better place to hold the first event of the 2021 calendar. Tarifa is the wind capital of Europe and is known for being buffered by two conflicting winds: the relentless Levante from the east and the clean Poniente from the Atlantic west.
A total of 40 riders (30 men and 10 women) of 16 different nationalities registered. They included all four medalists from the last (2019) Tarifa event; Simple Mens Freestyle Knockout 2019.
There were also appearances from riders who have earned their respect in the early stages of the GKA tours; Steeze Maestro, Christophe Tack (BEL), power woman Hannah Whitely (GBR), and mischief-maker Oswald Smith (ZAF).
Due to the strong winds the competion was completed in three days; Wednesday to Friday. This tournament will be remembered for the 40-50 knot levante wind on the second day; taking the freestyle competition to the limit. By Heat 7 the wind was gusting beyond measures, the judges decided to adapt the rules once again, removing the Freestyle for the safety of competitors. New rules: PURE BIG AIR! 3 Big Air tricks count in the final score.
GKA Freestyle World Cup Tarifa 2021 - winners
1. A. Guillebert (FRA)
2. J. Burlando (ITA)
3. E. Jaspan (AUS)
4. A. Corniel (DOM)
1. M. Sol (BRA)
2. P. Van Iersel (NLD)
3. H. Whiteley (GBR)
4. R. Arnaus (ESP)
GKA Freestyle World Cup Tarifa 2021 - Day 3 (Video: Mintautas Grigas)
based on live ticker reports by Sasha Jade
Day Three (25-06-2021) – Men
In Tarifa at 10.30 hrs the wind is a 40- 50 knot Levante which has coated the remaining blue of the ocean with whirling whitecaps all the way to the shoreline. The riders are huddled behind the gear container, in an attempt to hear the judges over the loud Levante in the first skippers’ meeting.
The judges announced the format of the day to be pure Big-Air. The talk went straight to safety measures. Judges decided to change the rules to one man on the water at a time to ensure the safety of the riders. The athletes competing in the heat would return to the shore after each trick attempt, clearing the competition area for the next competitor. The judges will be counting the best 3 tricks.
As the green flag went up at 11.00 on Round 4 heat 15, Luiz Alberto Cruz (DOM) showed the wind who’s boss with a huge Double Sent Pass which was enough to qualify him through to the round 5.
Heat 16, Carlos Mario (BRA) and Valentín Rodriguez (COL) answered each other back with their Loops. By the third trick, Lorenzo Calcano (DOM) stepped up overtaking Mario with Kiteloop Backroll. Gianmaria Coccolutto (ITA) silently shadowed his competitors throughout the heat, not calling any attention until he unexpectedly took center stage with a HUGE Kiteloop, reaching the highest score of the Heat!
Round five was the last four heats with four riders competing in each one, first and second position needed to secure a place in the semi-finals.
Heat 18. Luca Pitot (FRA) boosted straight up and away to the dunes capturing the judge’s attention consistently throughout his heat. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to maintain it, as Fellow French man Arthur Guillebert (FRA) drew spectators’ eyes to his unmissable Kiteloop Frontrolls. Ewan Jaspan (AUS) fired back and hit the target with the highest score.
Heat 19. both Dominicans, Adeuri Corniel (DOM), and Joselito Del Rosario (DOM) were each determined. Jeremy Burlando (ESP) splashed that dream out of the water for Del Rosario, as he overtook both Dominicans by just a few winning points.
Heat 20. After Gianmaria Coccoluto’s (ITA) last performance the eyes were peeled on him. He clearly was not expecting the stash of front rolls the flipping Frenchmen spun out. Between Paul Serin (FRA) & Valentin Garat (FRA) they spun their competitors following few trick attempts.
Heat 21 Karim Mahmoud (EGY) was the first to set the bar with his Kiteloop Double Frontroll, raising the trick score to a high 8.43! With Posito Martinez (DOM) right behind him, he maintained his position till the end pulling a Double Boogie-loop so big that he ran out of comp ground. Martinez outperformed with his last 2 tricks, also defying gravity with his unexplainable Kiteloop Frontroll scoring a 9.7 highest scoring trick of the day.
First Semi Final. Valentin Garat (FRA kicked off with a Double Frontroll Kite loop that made a statement that he was ready to take his second chance to the crown. Each rider proceeded to answer back, reminding Garat wasn’t the only one that was ready. Arthur Guillebert (FRA) showed just how ready he was, surpassing Garats Double, continuing to boosting up his score.
The remaining riders continued to climb their way to the new heights guillotine Guillebert was flying to, but as they were gaining ground so was he, determined to be the first to the crown. Garat persistently looped his way closer, not ready to give up, but Jeremy Burlando (ESP) managed to gain the height he needed doubling the altitude of his previous double Backroll Kiteloop at the last moment to take him to the finals!
Second Semi Final. Ewan Jaspan (AUZ) was in the lead after adding a double to his first Backroll. Posito Martinez (DOM) was right behind him. Adeuri Corniel (DOM) flipped his way in front of him with his massive Kiteloop Frontroll. Posito persisted, answering back with one of his own, but it wasn’t enough to overtake his fellow Dominican. Corniel nearly looped his way past Jaspan with his last Kiteloop of the heat, but Jaspan held his ground with the variety of his Frontroll Contraloop.
It was already 20.00 hrs when the riders entered the water.
Jeremy Burlando (ITA) took an early lead, a new rookie on tour pulling a move from move-in his dance with the big names in the final.
Adeuri Cornieu (DOM) followed a different strategy, leaving the best till last. In the final moments of the heat, he gathered all his remaining energy, throwing Kiteloop above the skylines of Morrocco!
It wasn’t high enough to take the 3rd position from Ewan Jaspan (AUS) who solidly held his ground.
Arthur Guillebert (FRA) has been in flames since the beginning of the event, showing that he can handle any conditions thrown at him. The Frenchman hasn’t missed a beat since the first green flag rose. He politely removed his board stepping over Burlando, his last obstacle to the crown, and proceeded to claim the first World Cup title of his career!
Round 4 Heat 8 saw Rita Arnaus (ESP) kicking us off with a solid heat, game face on as she fully focused on timing finding the perfect moments to show her confidence in her abilities. Estefânia Rosa (BRA) held her ground nicely throughout the heat. Both riders progressed to the semi-final anyway as Katie Potter (AUS) had withdrawn.
Heat 9 Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE) had been training hard under Luca Pitot’s (FRA) wing and was disappointed she didn’t get the chance to show us what she’s learned in her challenging heat yesterday. Bothe her and P Van Isesel (NLD) riders progressed to the semi-final as P Novotna (CZE) had also withdrawn.
First Semifanal Pippa Van Iersel (NLD) attempted to loop up there with her in her last trick, proving that she too can handle the heat. It wasn’t enough to prove herself worthier than Arnaus that time, but it was enough to give her another chance, and take her through the final.
Second Semifanal Mikaili Sol (BRA) showed her confidence upon entry, as she kicked the heat off with a Double Frontroll Board-off without breaking a sweat. Sol didn’t stop there as she looped her way even higher with a smooth execution. Hannah Whiteley (GBR) held her ground, landing another double smoothly once again, Whiteley continued with a substantial board off, showing she wasn’t ready to roll over yet.
Sol clearly wasn’t expecting that, as she struggled to locate that confidence in her next three attempts. Whitely continued to hold her ground, gaining points on the undefeated Sol. Whiteley looped her way up to Sol’s level in the final minutes, nearly overtaking Sol’s previous attempt. But Sol wasn’t having any of it, looping back into action to ensure she could claim the crown of the Kiteloops.
The wind was still nuking, and the girls continued to battle the conditions.
Mikaili Sol (BRA) showed her dominance in the sport once again, totalling 20+ point averages back to back. Without looking back, the queen fearlessly claimed her crown!
Pippa Van Iesel (NED) looped back strong, giving the Brazillian a run for her money. Unfortunately, missed her last reach to the crown but strongly secured the second position.
Hannah Whiteley (GBR) pushed through some tough Levante gusts pulling together a decent part of her repertoire secured her third-place position.
Rita Arnaus (ESP) coming in with Spanish fire from the semi-finals, couldn’t quite maintain the heat up as she struggled to land her bigger moves.
GKA Freestyle World Cup Tarifa 2021 - Day 2 (Video: Mintautas Grigas)
Day Two (24-06-2021) – Men
The second day’s judging criteria is 7 trick attempts, best 4 counting (2 freestyle 2 big air tricks) taking into consideration some big air elements but keep in mind this is a Freestyle event.
Based on yesterday’s feedback from the riders, the judges have decided to hold the women’s heats between the men’s, intending on preserving all of the athlete’s energy throughout the day.
The first riders on the water struggled with the gusty conditions and the landings were pretty gnarly in these choppy conditions.
Nico Franco (ESP) and Robin Goetgebeurg (BEL) had a particularly tough time in the four rider qualifier Round 2 Heat 5 . The gust must have blown Franco’s confidence seen on Day One as he failed to land any of his tricks! Lorenzo Calcano (DOM) landed 5 of his 7 attempts relatively smoothly. Julian Krikken (FRA) managed to pull most of his tricks to score the 13.41 winning points. The judges scores were noticeably down on Day One.
There was nothing stable about the conditions of the shores today. The wind began gusting beyond the anticipation and the spectators attempt to keep their eyes open with the blasting sand storm.
Before Round 3 (Heats 6 to 13) the Judges called the riders into a skippers meeting to adapt the criteria to the dominating Levante, leaning more towards Big Air favoured elements. New rules: 1 Freestyle 3 Big Air tricks.
But that didn’t last for long. The conditions continued making it extremely difficult for the riders to perform their Freestyle moves. The locally loved Manu De Pfyffer (CHE) wasn’t even used to the strength of the Levante. Arthur Guilbert (FRA) winning the points he needed to push him to Round 4.
By heat 7 the wind was gusting beyond measures, the judges decided to adapt the rules once again, removing the Freestyle for the safety of our brave competitors! New rules: PURE BIG AIR! 3 Big Air tricks count in the final score.
The judges decided to restart from heat 7, cutting the riders some slack, giving them another chance to adjust to the pure Big Air format. Scores were getting higher into heat 9. The conditions weren’t getting any easier, but the riders did an incredible job adjusting to them each time they were out on the water.
The Dominican Adeuri Corniel really dominated the scene in Heat 9 showing immense confidence in this new format with his Kiteroll Frontroll Board off. In heat 8, the French Riders prove to be used to these conditions once again, as Paul Serin (FRA) smoothly landed all 7 trick attempts and managed to spice it up with a Kiteloop Backroll. Jerome Cloetens (ESP) responded with a giant Kiteloop Frontroll scoring a score of 8.53.
In Heat 11 Tack (BEL) was back, but he wasn’t as comfortable on Day 2 conditions as the first day. Valentin Garat (FRA) had been practicing his smaller big air kites and boards with straps regularly. A solid Kiteloop Board-off trick span him off into the next round!
Oswald Smith (ZAF) was pulling a massive Kiteloop Backroll to show the spectators in the beach bars what they’re missing out on down on the shores. The ‘Master of Mischief’ is causing some serious havoc on the shores of Tarifa as continued to show us what the big air is all about. He scored 18.7 points and claimed the highest heat score of the day.
The men rested after the Women’s Tornament returned to the water for qualifying Round 4.
In Heat 14 Joselito Del Rosario (DOM) spurred into action with a Kiteloop Backroll, but Lucas Pitot’s (FRA) kept his game on focus scoring the points he needed to win the heat. Both move in Round 5.
In Heat 15 a nasty gust boosted Manu Defyffer up and completely left him hanging mid-air as he attempted to pull his Kiteloop Backroll. This sent him crashing down where his friends ran to the shores to assist. Luckily his Pfyffer’s ribs survived, but the warrior left the water winded and defeated. It was Luiz Alberto Cruz (DOM) that won the heat with his last trick a Double Sent Past qualifying him for round 5.
After De Pfyffers’s scare, the judges decided to call off Heat 15 and release the riders home for the day.
Day Two (24-06-2021) – Women
Claudia Leon (ESP) rode that excitement straight into the water, kicking off the women’s division in the three rider Round 3 Heat 4 (Round one and two were not needed) with a banging total score of 15.08.
Pipa Van Iersel (NED) right behind her, doing her best to throw her tricks in these hectic conditions! Katie Potter (AUS) couldn’t quite keep up and settle for third position and did not qualify.
Heat 5 Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE) faced experienced Kajiya (BRA) unfortunately only managing to land one of her tricks in this two rider heat.
Heat 6 three queens were competing, Rita Arnaus (ESP), Paula Novotna (CZE) and Hannah Whiteley (GBR). Novotna struggled to capture the Judge’s attention, Whiteley whipped out that power she had been building up in her moves. Rita demonstrated how the off-the-water training really pays off with her massive Kiteloop Backroll scoring a high 6.6. But it was Hannah’s consistency in powerful executions scoring 13.37 to progress to the Semi Final.
Mikaili Sol (BRA) our youngest Woman on tour wrapped up the Women’s action for the day in a two rider Heat 7. She warmed up with her first two trick attempts, by the thirds and fourth, you could tell she was comfortable, but no one was ready for her HUGE Frontroll Board off to score 15.93 and earn a place in the semi-final. Fellow Brazilian Estefania Rosa (Rose) only scored 3.9 and enough to pass to qualifying round 4. A convenient point for the judges released the women for the day.
GKA Freestyle World Cup Tarifa 2021 - Day 1 (Video: Mintautas Grigas)
The first morning of the competition 23-06-2021 was a slow start, was very overcast and Tarifa was in the brief calm between Poniente turning itself over for the Levante
The judges decided to not rush into the competition, and preserve the rider’s energy for the windy forecast ahead. At midday, the women riders were released for the day, keeping the men on hold in case of the wind’s early arrival.
Judges have already introduced the Mixed format, where Freestyle and Big Air tricks count towards the final score, the weight given to each category was announced by the Head Judge (Alvaro Onieva) and posted on the Official Notice Board thirty minutes before the start of the heat.
This format will allow the judges to find the complete rider, capable of performing in any conditions. This was controversial to pure freestyle fans, but judges ensure they are not trying to overpower the freestyle out of the tour, their intention is to preserve the athletes and keep the innovation progressing to a new level of innovation.
“Our idea is to keep some meaning of freestyle in the criteria unless the conditions simply do not allow it. We’ve seen many injuries and we want to protect the riders.” – Confirms Alvaro Onieva (Head Judge)
In Round one there are four heats with three riders. In each heat riders have 7 attempts at pulling their best tricks in the given conditions, only the best 4 will be counted by the judges.
By 14.00 pm the sun came out, and competition buoys were placed in position as the wind slowly picked up. At 15.00 pm the wind was enough to raise the first green starter flag of the competition,
Mens heat one was underway. Christophe Tack (BEL) pulling an impressive SLIMS7 as his first trick. Robin Goetgebuer (BEL) played it safe, going for variety but it was not enough to take on Tack, who continued with five sound tricks to win the heat with a high score of 24.61.
“I’m nervous about tomorrow as I haven’t ridden my small kites in a while, but I’m definitely having fun back out on the battlefield, and that’s always a good sign for me, fun is where the magic happens.”– Christophe Tack said after.
Heat 2 was where local boys Jerome Cloetens (ESP) and Nico Franco (ESP) turned their training into competition standard. Cloetens opened with an impressive KGB right on the shore followed by a Double Hinterberger Frontside 3 2XHFS3 to land 7 tricks in total, taking the win. Franco crashed his first two tricks but recovered enough to be second. Luca Seer (AUT) could not steal the spotlight from the pair of them leaving the stage for this round.
Ewan Jaspan (AUS) taking a very smooth lead, really impressing the judges with the technical difficulty of his executed tricks scoring 22.9. Lorenzo Calcano (DR) managed to hold his place landing 7 different tricks but Matteo Doronti (ITA) couldn’t quite reach the next round.
Heat 4 and another local legend Manu Depfyffer (CHE) woke up the crowds with a massive KGB and continued making his hometown proud performing consistently throughout the rest of the heat to score 20.1. Julian Krikken (FRA) definitely earned some of the noise with his Double Hinterberger FS3, but he struggled to keep his confidence up. Michele Berti (ITA) had a tough one as he struggled with the light wind, not able to make it through.
As the wind continued to change direction, the Poniente continued to fade. The judges released the riders early for the day.
22-06-2021 was not a true competion day and was set aside for rider's registration and practice sessions.