Faultless outings in Cauipe as action soars

Published 9th November 2023 by Liam Dredge


Top ranked athletes keep world title hopes on track in penultimate Freestyle tour stop in Brazil

Copa Kitley GKA Freestyle-Kite World Cup Brazil
Cauipe, 8-11 November, 2023

Anticipation levels were sky-high as the heavy hitters took to the playing field at the Copa Kitley GKA Freestyle-Kite World Cup Brazil, being fought out in near-perfect conditions on Cauipe’s storied lagoon.

The leaders in the Freestyle discipline on the Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour, Brazil’s Carlos Mario and Bruna Kajiya, kept their dreams of adding another world title to their trophy haul alive when they advanced up the ladder.

Battling on home waters, the Brazilian pair who have seven Freestyle world titles between them, gave the vocal crowds lining the lagoon much to cheer about as they booked places in the quarter-finals and semi-finals with big performances.

Day two of the world cup in Cauipe, the fourth and penultimate stop of the Freestyle tour which closes out next month in Fuwairit, Qatar, saw all the main title contenders among the 28 men and 14 women competitors take to the water.

Early Brazilian dominance

After patiently waiting out the opening day, Guilherme Costa (BRA) and his compatriot Carlos Mario both hit home runs to open their accounts. The Brazilian duo displayed buckets of style with ease, sending home fans wild.

Local knowledge proved to be key and both went straight to the quarter-finals. Mario racked up a heat total of 30.23, out of a possible 40 for his four counting tricks.

As the day wore on breeze became a little more flukey, compared to the prime 10/10 conditions of the morning. For the men, this made it more challenging to stay powered for their tricks.

The race director gave the athletes more latitude on timing in order to complete their tricks in the changeable conditions. But it was still possible to decide all the men’s quarter-final spots.

One of the youngest riders in the competition, 14-year-old Finn Flügel (GER), secured his quarter-final berth, showing the ‘old guard’ he meant business. In Round 4 he earned one of the day’s highest totals—31.98—that included a 7.53, out of 10, for a Pete Rose 7.

“It was just amazing; probably the best heat of my life, ” said Flügel. “I did all my tricks and I’m just super-stoked about this spot. It was all-in-all amazing. The level of riding here is just amazing. It’s the mecca of Freestyle. Everybody does their best tricks here and it’s hard to advance.”

León looking strong

Another former world champion, France’s Arthur Guillebert, went one better when he dug himself out a hole in Round 4 as he faced elimination. His 32.13 was the day’s biggest heat score, which included a 9.07 for a KGB7.

On the women’s side Bruna Kajiya made her way to the semi-finals after narrowly snatching victory in her Round 3 clash against Francesca Bagnoli (ITA) and Leticia Ferreira (BRA). Kajiya progressed with a score of 25.93, which included a textbook S-Mobe 5 in the spot where she revels in competition.

“For me it’s like an absolute pleasure,” said Kajiya. “When I found out we were competing in Cauipe I was absolutely jumping and screaming. For me . . . this is my second home and I think Cauipe deserves it. If you think of Brazilian Freestyle, this is where it all began. I just get goose bumps.”

Bagnoli just missed out in her battle against Kajiya by half a point, with her 25.45 heat total. That left the Italian with work to do in the quarter-finals, but she got the job done took a place in the semi-finals.

Standout heat from the women went to Claudia León (ESP). Firing on all cylinders, she earned a whopping 30.69 heat total, which included two 8-point scores. León looked sharp from start to finish, throwing down powerful manoeuvres with a low kite angle that the judges loved.

Big upset

The Spanish athlete, ranked second overall, joins Karolina Winkowska (POL) in the semi-finals. Former world champion, Winkowska, returning to the tour at the age of 33 after giving birth, caused one of the upsets of the day when she just outpointed Mikaili Sol (USA).

“This year I’m competing here with the best little cheerleader,” said Winkowska, holding her daughter in her arms. “I’m so happy this is possible. I’m feeling strong and I’m feeling great on the water. Having her here is so great, so she can see me following my dreams and hopefully in future she’ll get to follow her dreams.”

The current world champion, Sol, had to fight for survival in Round 4. But the American made no mistake the second time, winning the heat convincingly with a line-up of tricks that included 8.0 for a stomped Heart Attack.

In the setting sun Sol, currently third in the world rankings, booked her place in the semi-finals, with Sweden’s Nathalie Lambrecht taking the last slot. Therese Taabbel (DEN) had already moved straight to the semi-finals.

With the women’s semi-final places decided and the men’s quarter-finals action to come, Cauipe lagoon has plenty in store for day three. Join us here for all the action, when we may crown our winners.

words: Liam Dredge / Ian MacKinnon
images: Svetlana Romantsova

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