Kitesurfing - International Championships

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

International Kitesurfing Championships in Tarifa

Each year many top Spanish and international kite surfers join beginners in Tarifa keen to try out this sport, which became popular in Tarifa in the 1990s. An international championship is usually held once a year in Tarifa,

Historical overview

PKRA (Professional Kite Riders Association) ProKite World Tour event from the ProKite World Tour was held in Tarifa in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

After an long break tour events were again in 2014. The events were called the  Masters of Kiteboard - 2014 and in 2015 when the tour was renamed the VKWC (Virgin Kitesurf World Championships) to reflect the new tour owners. In early 2016 Virgin quietly pulled out of the tour amid rumours of corruption by the competition organisers. The VKWC competition changed its name again to World Kite Tour (WKT) and operated as an official ISAF (Sailing Association) sanctioned event.

The Tarifa leg of the 2016 World Kite Tour was in the draft 2016 calendar for July then postponed to September 2016 at Playa Los Lances. This event never took place as the World Kite Tour was reduced to only two events in 2016 and none in 2017. The WKT became embroiled in a legal dispute with the IKA World Kite League which hosted the Pringle Kitesurf World Tour with four events in 2016;  Fehmarn  El Gouna (Egypt) in March,  Leucate in April, Pingtan (China) in September and Porto Pollo (Italy) in October. The IKA signed an agreement with the GKA Global Kitesurf Association (an association supported by the equipment manufacturers) in February 2017 to 'to unite the kiteboarding community'. 

In this vacuum the World Kiteboarding League (WKL) formed 'by riders for the riders' and as part of the WKL Kiteboarding World Cup organised 12 events in their 2017 WKL Freestyle Elite League which did not include Tarifa. The WKL maintained the World Cup Rankings in which Tarifa based Liam Whaley (and world champion in 2015) came a close second to Carlos Mario (Brasil) in 2017. Bruna Kajiya lead the women.   On the WKL 2018 tour calendar there were four locations for the world tour but Tarifa was not one of them.

The GKA Kiteboarding World Tour was an International Strapless Kitesurfing Pro Tour organised by the Global Kitesurf Association. The Tarifa leg took place from the 28 June to 2nd July 2017 at Playa de Valdevaqueros. It was called the  Tarifa Strapless Pro and was the first event of the 2017 world tour.

JEEP Tarifa Pro 2018 and the first GKA Air Games took place from 26th June to 1 July 2018 at Playa de Valdevaqueros. These were GKA accredited Strapless Tarif Pro events.

In 2019 the Global Kitesports Association World Tour, had now reached 20 cities worldwide. The Tarifa Pro leg took place from 2nd July to Sunday 7th July 2019 . There were two championships the Strapless and the Freestyle.  This was the fifth consecutive year the strapless event has has taken place at Valdevaqueros, Tarifa. 

In 2020 the Global Kitesports Association (GKA) World Tour consisted of 16 competitions. The Tarifa event was scheduled for 23rd to 28th July 2020 to include Kitesurf and Freestyle disciplines. Unfortunately due to the Coronavirus pandemic the event was cancelled. The GKA did manage to run two events that year, in November; Kitesurf in Cabo Verde and Freestyle in Ilha do Guajiru, Brazil.

In its place the second ever GKA Wing Foil Pro tour event did take place at the end of December in Tarifa.

In 2021 the GKA had several Kitesurf and several Freestyle events on its world tour. The GKA Freestyle World Cup Tarifa 2021 took place 22 to 27 June 2021. A second (and third) GKA event in Tarifa is the Youth Freestyle and Youth Kite-Surf, both took place from the 23rd to 26th September 2022.

In 2022 the Tarifa GKA Freestyle Big Air World Championship 2022, the second event on the world tour took place from 20th June to 6th July on Playa Lances Sur opposite Balneario. A large Kite Expo also took place from the 21st to the 26th of June at BIBO Beach House, at Playa Valdevaqueros.

A second (and third) GKA event in Tarifa is the Youth Freestyle and Youth Kite-Surf, both took place from the 8th to 11th September 2022. With tour events in France, Egypt, Italy and Tarifa this GKA Youth World Cup series is the equivalent to the GKA Kite World Tour for young riders wanting to compete in Freestyle and Kite-Surf disciplines and gain experience in international competition formats. All GKA Youth Kite World Tour events are held according to the official GKA Kite World Tour Rulebook, and judged by a GKA licensed judge.

The GKA tour now sponsored by Qatar Airways returned to Tarifa as GKA Big Air Kite World Championship Tour for another big air event in 2023 with 40.000€ prize money. Tournament window was 26 May to 16 June 2023, the actual event was only three days; 2nd, 5th and 6th June 2023. This is followed by the GKA World Championships event for the Youth discipline with Kiteboarding from 20th to 25th June.

Tarifa Championship Competition Reports

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