Big Air battle poised for epic showdown

Published 16th April 2024 by Ian MacKinnon


Lords of Tram GKA men set to vie for crown after opening day saw favourites advance smoothly in tricky conditions

Lords of Tram GKA Big Air Kite World Cup France 2024
30 March—28 April, Barcarès

The Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour season opener in the Big Air discipline in France began with a bang when the Tramontana winds ratcheted up to more than 50 knots, giving the athletes the conditions they wanted to put on a big show.

The favourites for the win at the Lords of Tram GKA Big Air Kite World Cup, like world champion Andrea Principi (ITA), Lorenzo Casati (ESP), and Jamie Overbeek (NED), advanced through the early rounds without drama.

After a long day of spectacular action in the stadium-like setting of Barcarès lagoon, the competition was poised at the semi-final stage of the men’s contest when the wind became difficult for the Big Air contests and prematurely ended the action.

The remaining eight men from the starting line-up of 24 will fight for the Lords of Tram crown on Day 2 of the competition, while the 12 women will get their chance to battle in earnest for the first time.

The world cup in Barcarès is the first stop of the tour that will travel to Gran Canaria, Spain, in July, with hopes that a third and concluding call may take place later in the year.

Equally ruthless

One of the youngest riders in the competition, Leonardo Casati, 14, brother of Lorenzo, set the tone in the day’s first heat. He landed three big seven-point tricks and beat Marc Jacobs (NZL), who had to battle for survival in the next round.

Spain’s Jeremy Burlando showed he meant business in his opening exchanges, landing a huge 24 metre-high Contra-loop Front-roll Board-off. Brazil’s Josué “Baby Shark” San came out firing in his early heat, chalking up 9.50 for a Kiteloop Frontroll Boardoff that marked him out as one to watch.

Former Red Bull King of the Air, Marc Jacobs, did not make the same mistake twice as he fought for survival in Round 2. The New Zealander shrugged off any jet-lag to close out his heat and advance to the quarter-finals.

France’s Edgar Ulrich was equally ruthless and moved forward to the quarters with a win, though he was given a run for his money by Stijn Mul (NED), Clement Huot (FRA) and Josh Gillitt (RSA), who did enough to go forward in second place.

British veteran Aaron Hadlow showed no mercy when he was involved in a battle with two of the youngest riders in the competition, countryman Max Tullett, 14, and Australian Ruben Swart, 16. Hadlow beat both, though Swart also moved the quarter-finals with his second place in heat.

‘Game changed a bit’

In the first quarter-final Dutchman Giel Vlugt came out strongly, ending the run of Leonardo Casati and the French former Freestyle world champion, Arthur Guillebert. Vlugt was pleased to progress.

“It was an extremely difficult heat because the wind was just up and down,” said Vlugt. “You really had to find the gusts and go for it. But I guess that’s part of competing, and part of this spot as well. I can’t wait to go for the next heat.”

Jeremy Burlando was at it again when he landed a berth in the semi-final after taking his quarter-final heat, helped by a huge Contraloop Backroll Boardoff for 7.93. That put Lorenzo Casati in second, though he still advanced at the expense of Aaron Hadlow.

Burlando told how his strategy had changed during the day as the wind moderated and became more fickle and tricky for some.

“The game changed a bit,” said Burlando. “The game changed a bit. I thought we’be be doing double [kiteloops] all day long. But I had to pump my 9m kite and just went with the gusts we could take.” 

Never looked back

Dutchman Jamie Overbeek came out of the blocks fast in his quarter-final and never looked back to take the win in tricky breezes. Only Josué San could keep up with Overbeek and his second place earned him a semi-final spot, sending Marc Jacobs out after he withdrew with an ankle injury.

World champion Andrea Principi continued the dominant form he had shown in his opening heat and swept to the semi-final with a big display that showed mastery of the difficult conditions.

France’s Edgar Ulrich also advanced as the wind dropped out and ended the first day’s proceedings. Ulrich won a run-off with Jason van der Spuy (RSA) after a scoring discrepancy forced the two back out on the water.

The competition is finally balanced for the big showdown to see who will be crowned the Lord of Tram. Join us for all the action.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Samuel Cárdenas


Andrea Principi
Lorenzo Casati
Giel Vlugt
Jamie Overbeek
Josué San
Marc Jacobs
Jeremy Burlando
Jason van der Spuy
Aaron Hadlow
Stino Mul
Edgar Ulrich
Julian Huynh
Arthur Guillebert
Clement Huot
Valentin Garat
Lucas Gramstrup
Nathan Texier
Evan Klijn
Leonardo Casati
Martin Rahnel
Shahar Tsabary
Ruben Swart
Josh Gillitt
Max Tullett


Nathalie Lambrecht
Angely Bouillot
Zara Hoogenraad
Justine Avril
Francesca Maini
Pippa van Iersel
Jasmine Cho
Nora Klement
Sarah Sadek
Lana Herman
Svenja Peters
Alessa Mensch

Spot Info: Barcarès

Wind: The Tramontane blowing northerly, or north-westerly offshore, is best. The spot is non-tidal, with flat waters and temperatures of 10-20C.

The best wind for Big Air is 25-40 knots. (On Windguru the perfect forecast is 25 knots, with gusts of 30-35 knots—with the gusts as a reference point for the true wind.)

The wind is usually 5-10 knots in excess of the forecast, especially if the air temperatures are cold.

Specifics of the spot: The wind funnels in the corner of the jump zone, with result that riders can often jump three metres to five metres higher than usual.

The jump area has deep water, which makes it safer in the event of a crash.

The best seasons for the Tramontana run from March to June, and September to December. During summer, southern France’s hot weather can disrupt the pattern.

Within 500 metres the spot boasts two cable parks: a full-size Téléski Nautique and the “out and return” Sailor Wakepark. Just a kilometre away there is a full-size indoor and outdoor skatepark—Shakapark.

At the competition spot there is a bar-restaurant, The Spott, and a Duotone branded kiteschool, Surf&Kite.

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