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Big Air line-up unveiled for Lords of Tram

Published 6th March 2024 by Ian MacKinnon

 

Biggest names in kiting set to battle for Big Air world titles as GKA teams with Barcarès event for second year

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

The world’s leading Big Air kiteboarding athletes are set battle at Lords of Tram in Barcarès, France, as the Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour teams up with the renowned event for the second successive year.

The Lords of Tram GKA Big Air Kite World Cup is the opening stop of the tour that will ultimately crown the men’s and women’s world champions after the concluding call in the spectacular discipline.

Reigning world champion, Italy’s Andrea Principi, is set to defend the title that he won so spectacularly in Tarifa, Spain, last year to make it back-to-back victories. But the women’s title holder, Mikaili Sol (USA), is to miss Barcarès after deciding to take some time off to recharge.

“I’m taking a break from competing,” said Sol. “It’s been 10 years that I’ve been competing. I’m 19 now and I’ve been competing, since I was 10. Basically, to get back motivation, to train more, and to feel ready for competition again, I need to take a little step back. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not coming back. I’m just wishing everyone a great competition; lots of wind. I hope the girls smash it.”

Former Freestyle world champion Liam Whaley (ESP), who won in Barcarès last year, was ranked number two in the starting line-up but has pulled out with a long-term back injury. Cohan van Dijk (NED) remains on the starting list and moves up the rankings to third, though an injury question mark still hangs over him.

The upcoming sixth edition of Lords of Tram will feature 24 men and 12 women in the opening round of the Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Kite World Championship title race.

Six French riders

The contest named after the famously-strong Tramontana winds that blow down from the Pyrenees over the flat waters of Barcarès lagoon will have a month-long holding period so that organisers can choose the strongest conditions that are necessary for the Big Air competition.

The men’s line-up contains six French riders, including former GKA Freestyle world champion, Arthur Guillebert, and Edgar Ulrich, the winner of the reality TV show, Love Island France.

But the roster also features a host of other big names like former Red Bull Kings of the Air Lorenzo Casati (ITA) and Marc Jacobs (NZL), Giel Vlugt (NED), Jamie Overbeek (NED), Josué San (BRA), Jeremy Burlando (ESP) and the veteran athlete, Aaron Hadlow (GBR).

Any one those riders and a clutch of others could unseat the current world champion, Andrea Principi, who enjoyed a stellar season last year with a trio of wins that included the Red Bull KOTA and Megaloop Challenge contests.

‘It’s crazy’

“To make it three in a row, it’s crazy,” said Principi. “You know three comps in a row, it’s a lot. I said it looks impossible because after you won the first one, you say, why not the second one? Then I said the same for the third one. So for sure, I know that now it’s possible and I will try to do again and I know that it’s difficult. But at least it’s possible because I did it one time, right? So I can do two, three, four.”

With current and two-time Big Air women’s world champion Mikaili Sol out of the picture, the door is open for a number of other riders to take the Lords of Tram title.

The Big Air specialist, France’s Angely Bouillot, who was last year’s runner-up, must be considered a hot contender. But the Swede, Nathalie Lambrecht, Zara Hoogenraad (NED), and the fast-emerging Briton, Francesca Maini, will no doubt give the French woman a tough fight.

France’s Justine Avril is highly-placed and seeded number four, while Maui-based Karlie Thoma has had to pull out through injury and the organisers have yet to finalise who will take the twelfth women’s spot.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Samuel Cárdenas

Men

Andrea Principi
Lorenzo Casati
Cohan van Dijk
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
Nathan Texier
Evan Klijn
Leonardo Casati
Martin Rahnel
Shahar Tsabary
Ruben Swart
Josh Gillit
Max Tullett

Women

Nathalie Lambrecht
Angely Bouillot
Zara Hoogenraad
Justine Avril
Francesca Maini
Pippa van Iersel
Jasmine Cho
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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