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Kitesurfing - JEEP Tarifa Pro 2018 and Air games

JEEP Tarifa Pro 2018 © Toby Bromwich
JEEP Tarifa Pro 2018 © Toby Bromwich

2018 - JEEP TARIFA PRO 2018

by Chris Chaplow

The JEEP Tarifa Pro 2018, a strapless kite surf competition in Playa Valdevaqeros, Tarifa

Wednesday 27th June to Sunday 2nd July 2018. This six day strapless competition was  part of the GKA Kite Surf World Tour. This is an elite level wave and strapless freestyle competition - as opposed to wave riding, which occurs at other destinations during the tour.  

Events preceding that in Tarifa were: Sal (Cabo Verde) in February, Dakhla (Morocco) in April, and Viana do Castelo (Portugal) in June. At the start of the Tarifa event the top three men in the GKA Kite Surf standings are Airton Cozzolino, Keahi de Aboitz and Mitu Montiero, and the top three women are Moona Whyte, Jalou Langeree and Innes Correia.  Events planned to take place later in 2018 are Sotovento (Canarias, Spain) in July, Le Morne (Mauritius) in September, and Preá (Brasil) in November.

Air Games

Running parallel with the elite event are the 'Air Games', launched in 2018 and consisting of five events.  The Air Games are intended to put spectator enjoyment at the heart of the kite surf action, with riders performing technical tricks easily visible to viewers on the beach. Tricks are divided into three categories: big-air, handle-passes and kite loops. Performances in this tour will take the best of all aspects of twin-tip freestyle kite boarding, in order to find the most complete twin-tip rider.   

The Air Games take place alongside the major scheduled strapless events of 2018. The first was to be Mondial Du Vent at Leucate (France) in April but a lack of wind forced the cancellation of the competition in favour of some jet-ski towed exhibition work.

Jeep Tarifa Pro at Tarifa (Spain) in June thus became the inaugural world Air Games.  Later in the year the schedule of the tour includes Cabarete Kite Festival (Dominican Republic) in July, Mercedes-Benz Kitesurf World Cup at Fehmarn (Germany) in September, and Preá (Brasil) in November.


 On Tuesday, after the JEEP Tarifa Pro 2018 inscription closed at 14.00 hrs, the judges met, reviewed the low 'Poniente' wind conditions and postponed the competition until 18.15 hrs. At this time the strapless riders entered the water with lightweight foil boards strengthened with carbon-fibre backbones. This lightweight construction permits strapless kite surf in much lower winds. 

Meanwhile at the Old Tuna Factory in Tarifa town, the official competition presentation took place. The organisers, sponsors and civic officials welcomed the competitors (who were mainly elsewhere on the beach and the waves) to Tarifa. Such is the unpredictable nature of kite surf.


The Air Games kicked off on in a light Poniente wind which was boosted by an 18 knot afternoon thermal. This is only the starting wind speed needed for performing big tricks; the competition is looking for the rounded twin-tip riders who can perform in varied conditions. Sterling performances came from Jesse Richman with a super clean kite loop and double half-cabs, and Posito Martinez, who demonstrated skill in all categories. Liam Whaley and David Tonijuan had close attempts at kite loops from blind mobes. Carlos Mario performed a kite loop 7 (a double frontside 360 handle pass).


Thursday's competition was delayed to 18.00 hrs when the wind line finally reached the shore at Valdevaqueros and the Kite Surf World Tour strapless freestyle riders put on a late afternoon show. Wind was 15 to 18 knots and dropped for the last couple of rounds. Riders who shone in the strapless heats were Keahi De Aboitz (Australia), Simon Joosten (Barbados), Luis Britto (Cabo Verde), Jan Marcos Riveras (Dominican Republic) and Matchu Lopés (Cabo Verde).  With the heats completed, the last 16 riders will take away tour points and enter the knockout finals.


The men's strapless completion continued on Friday at 12.30 hrs with the final 16 riders competing in knockout format. The wind prevailed and by 15.00 hrs, Airton Cozzolino (@AirtonCozzolino) won the JEEP Tarifa Pro 2018, after a hard-fought final with his friend Matchu Lopes (@matchucv). Matchu landed a double front, but Airton rapidly stacked tricks like a machine gun, including two handle-passes. Mitu Monteiro was third and Jan Marcos Riviera was fourth. They all demonstrated an ability to adapt seamlessly to the wind conditions and execute precise maneuvers; what led Airton to victory was his ability to combine a higher number of difficult tricks in succession.

The women's strapless heats commenced with only six riders signed up (in fact, the first time that enough women had registered for a strapless freestyle event to give them their own scoring ladder).  Moona White and Jalou Langeree, who had been leading the tour at other destinations, discarded this event as they specialize in 'waves' venues. Carla Herrera Oria  (Twitter: @CarlaHerreraO, Instagram: @Carlaherreraoria) was certainly present, and dominated today's heats , demonstrating her skill for straight-up strapless freestyle. 

At 15.00 hrs the Air Games competition continued with more heats before the wind dropped; enough time for the qualification of three semi-finalists: Carlos Mario, Jesse Richman and Posito Martinez.  

Sadly, local rider Liam Whaley sustained an ankle injury during an intense match-up with close rival Carlos Mario and will probably be out of the rest of the tour.    


This was a beautiful wind-free summer day, attracting thousands of beach-goers. But the westerly, light, on-shore Tarifa Poniente winds are dreaded by top kite and wind surfers, and proved problematic for the competition. The riders were ready for 12.30 hrs, but did not enter the water until 18.00 hrs, entertaining spectators for just one hour with foil boards.

The need to round up competitions resulted in strapless and conventional kite-surf (Air Games) contests playing out on the water simultaneously - for the first time ever in an official world tour competition.


Come what may, the prize giving ceremony took place at 13.00 on Valdevaqueros Beach on Sunday as planned and the civic dignitaries were only able to present prizes to the strapless JEEP Tarifa Pro 2018 men winners. They did not hang around to see the women's competition start at 16.30.  Local rider Carla Herrera Oria rode to victory, prevailing over Johanna-Catharina Edin in the final.  Perhaps Carla benefited from her local knowledge and the support of spectators on the shore.    

Immediately afterwards, it was the turn of the women to compete in the women's Air Games. Of the 11 competitors, Mikaili Sol from Brazil took first place thanks to her sound repertoire of maneuvers.

The day´s competition finished with the men's Air Games, where Hawaiian Jesse Richman, known for his incredible exploits - kite  and board in hand - was the one to take glory in this first ever event, hence leading the World Tour.

Final results

JEEP Tarifa Pro 2018  - STRAPLESS - Men
1º Airton Cozzolino (CV / IT)
2º Matchu Lopes (CV / ES)
3º Mitu Monteiro (CV)
4º Jan Marcos Rivera (DR / ES)

JEEP Tarifa Pro 2018  - STRAPLESS - Women
1º Carla Herrera Oria (ES)
2º Johanna-Catharina Edin (SE)
3º Charlotte Carpentier (FR)
4º Bianca Eindhoven (NL)

1º Jesse Richman (US)
2º Maxime Chabloz (CH)
3º Carlos Mario (BR)
4º Posito Martinez (DR)

1º Mikaili Sol (BR)
2º Hannah Whiteley (UK)
3º Pippa Van Iersel (NL)
4º Gina Bihn (DE)


Jeep Tarifa Pro - Day 4 - GKA Kite-Surf World Tour Action

Jeep Tarifa Pro - Day 3 - GKA Kite-Surf World Tour Action

Jeep Tarifa Pro - Day 2 - GKA Kite-Surf World Tour Action

Jeep Tarifa Pro - Day 1 - GKA Kite-Surf World Tour Action

Kite Surfing Lessons in Tarifa

Book Kite Surfing Lessons in Tarifa

Tarifa Championship Competition Reports