Fight for top Big Air crowns set to soar in Tarifa

Published 5th June 2023 by Ian MacKinnon


Mouth-watering battles for coveted Twin-Tip and Surfboard world titles to kick-off at Balneario for second straight year

Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Kite World Championships Tarifa
26 May — 16 June, 2023

The most highly-anticipated battles of the Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Kite World Championships are set to take flight as the contest shifts into high gear with the opening of the Twin-Tip action and the conclusion of the men’s Surfboard competition.

After a dramatic first day when the women’s Surfboard and Hydrofoil disciplines were decided, the competition was on hold for several days waiting for the strong Levante winds to hit Tarifa’s Balneario beach in southern Spain.

But with the arrival of the strengthening Levante winds the women’s Twin-Tip competition is set to start on Monday afternoon, followed by the first round of the men’s Twin-Tip contest later. The battles between the planet’s best 24 men and 12 women Big Air Twin-Tip athletes promise to be huge.

The men’s Surfboard fleet was released for the day and is set to continue their competition on Tuesday with a big Levante forecast. Already the duels in the opening round of the men’s Surfboard discipline late on Friday evening threw up a few surprises in the faltering breezes.

In moderate 23-27 knots Levante winds, reigning Big Air world champion and number one seed, Italy’s Airton Cozzolino, could only manage a second place in the three-man heat. He will get another chance to battle in round two.

Booked tickets

Two-times reigning Kite-Surf world champion, Australia’s James Carew, suffered a similar fate, losing out to Keanu Merten (GER) in the opening round. But France’s Camille Delannoy and Lorenzo Casasti (ITA), booked their tickets straight to round three with spectacular strapless surfboard riding.

Current Red Bull King of the Air, Casati, 17, is also one of the 24 men’s starters fighting for the GKA Big Air Twin-Tip world title. But the teenager, seeded number three, finds himself up against one of the greatest Big Air fields ever assembled.

The GKA Big Air Twin-Tip Worlds in Tarifa is the second and concluding stop of the title race. It opened with an epic contest at the beginning of April at Lords of Tram, in Barcarès, France.

Spain’s Liam Whaley took the win with a polished and a spectacular display in which he used all the competition experience of a former freestyle world champion in the difficult conditions.

Breathing down neck

Whaley is now in pole position for the title in Tarifa. But he can afford no slip-ups if he is to take the crown, as reigning Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Kite Twin-Tip title holder, Andrea Principi (ITA), is seeded number two and breathing down the Spaniard’s neck.

The pair have fascinating recent record. Principi took the win over Whaley in the GKA Big Air final last year. But it was Whaley who turned the tables on Principi in the final at Lords of Tram. Both could easily take the Big Air world title.

Yet any number of riders on the stacked Big Air roster could derail their dreams of a Big Air world title. Among the rivals are a clutch of former Red Bull Kings of the Air—Marc Jacobs (NZL) and Aaron Hadlow (GBR)—and world freestyle champions, like Aurthur Guillebert (FRA).

Big Air veterans like Giel Vlugt (NED) sit ahead of pack of hungry young athletes like Jamie Overbeek, (NED), Luca Ceruti (RSA), Edgar Ulrich (FRA), Jeremy Burlando (ESP), Cohan van Dijk (NED) and Evan Klijn (NED), who have ripped up the old order and revolutionised the discipline. Between them, they make calling a winner almost impossible.

Stuffed with talent

In the women’s 12-strong field, predicting an outcome is equally difficult. But the current Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Kite World Champion Mikaili Sol (USA) appears to have the edge after she won the opening round at Lords of Tram.

In France, the six-times world champion saw off a stiff challenge from Big Air specialist, Angely Bouillot (FRA), to take the win, even though the Frenchwoman earned the biggest trick score of the competition—a 9.0 from a possible 10.

Again, though, the women’s line-up is stuffed with talent, any one of whom could upset the established order. Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE), Zara Hoogenraad (NED) and relative new-comer Francesca Maini (GBR) have each shown themselves more than capable of winning.

It promises thrilling battles to decide who will wear the crowns. Join us for all the action.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Samuel Cárdenas

Event information

  • Location: Balneario beach, Tarifa, Spain
  • Dates: 26 May — 16 June
  • The official Race Notice and event schedule can be found here
  • All event information here

Here is the riders’ list

Men’s Twin-Tip

Liam Whaley (ESP)
Andrea Principi (ITA)
Lorenzo Casati (ITA)
Giel Vlugt (NED)
Luca Ceruti (RSA)
Edgar Ulrich (FRA)
Jeremy Burlando (ESP)
Jamie Overbeek (NED)
Marc Jacobs (NZL)
Cohan Van Dijk (NED)
Stino Mul (NED)
Josué San (BRA)
Evan Klijn (NED)
Aaron Hadlow (GBR)
Valentin Hoenderop (ESP)
Arthur Guillebert (FRA)
Jason van der Spuy (RSA)
Stig Hoefnagel (NED)
Nicolas Gambier (FRA)
Timo Boersema (NED)
Lucas Gramstrup (DEN)
Kimo Verkerk (NED)
Adalberto Gomez (VEN)
Carlos Ramirez (VEN)

Women’s Twin-Tip

Mikaili Sol (USA)
Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE)
Zara Hoogenraad (NED)
Angely Bouillot (FRA)
Justine Avril (USA)
Francesca Maini (GBR)
Jasmine Cho (USA)
Nora Klement (DEN)
Alessa Mensch (GER)
Sarah Sadek (EGY)
Martyna Konkel (POL)
Alice Ruggiu (ITA)

Men’s Surfboard

Airton Cozzolino (ITA)
Lorenzo Casati (ITA)
Camille Delannoy (FRA)
James Carew (AUS)
Keanu Merten (GER)
Kiko Roig (ESP)
Noah Nicolas (FRA)
Javier Lopez (ESP)
Nicola Abadjiev (BUL)
Leonardo Casati (ITA)
Marc Garriga (ESP)
Hendrick Lopes (SUI)

Find out everything about Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Kite World Championships Tarifa by clicking event news.

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Liveticker will be updated throughout the day. Event highlight video will be published next morning. Written reports will be posted to the website at the end of the competition day.

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