Finals Day – GKA Air Games Cabarete 2018


Saturday 14th July, Cabarete
Report: Matt Pearce / Photos: Carlos Gonzales, Oli Dadswell and Genesis Reyes

At the end of four non-stop days of competition the Brazilians finished today atop the podium with the unstoppable Mikaili Sol taking her second event win of the season to make it ‘two from two’ before Carlos Mario topped his first GKA Air Games event podium.

It’s been an incredible week here in Cabarete with perfect conditions everyday but one since the riders arrived in town and this afternoon was a fitting finale to the main event in pumping conditions on Cabarete Beach.

GKA Cabarete Air Games 2018 - Final Day

The finalists on day five


By the end of play yesterday, the field had been narrowed down to just nine men and Robinson Hilario and Adeuri Corniel were first up. Hilario’s riding style suits the Air Games format. He’s very comfy with the old-school / big-air side of things, but Adeuri was matching him trick for trick on a bigger kite than anyone else and he stuck some huge board-off rotations which he trucked into at full speed.

GKA Cabarete Air Games 2018 - Final Day

Adeuri on the advance

Adeuri recently became the twintip racing Youth World Champion and will be representing the DR this October at the Youth Olympic Games so he knows a thing or two about going flat-out and he was taking a similar approach in his heats today. He had the momentum, and he kept the charge to beat Louka Pitot in his next heat before taking out yesterday’s top performing local rider Luis Alberto Cruz. It looked like he might go all the way as he prepared for his heat against Jesse Richman.

When he hit the water against Jesse he looked a little flustered though, maybe the occasion was getting to him or maybe it was the non-stop barrage of heats he’d just battled through, but he soon regained his composure and was pretty quickly matching Jesse for height and beginning to look like a real contender for the podium positions with the home crowd fully behind him on the beach.

GKA Cabarete Air Games 2018 - Final Day

Jesse Richman – on the edge as per 

After a huge triple frontroll and a massive board-off frontroll he was looking pretty dominant but then Jesse hit back with a series of massive half cabs, board-offs and a kiteloop double half cab and he sealed the deal with a board-off double front roll to beat Adeuri and progress to the next round.

GKA Cabarete Air Games 2018 - Final Day

Half cab hero

Jesse then went up against Paul Serin who’d beaten him on day three in the single elimination mini-final. Paul was smooth, clean and playing a tactical game but Jesse’s calculated (and maybe sometimes not-so calculated) ‘all-in’ approach was bearing fruit and, while he took some heavy crashes, he only needed three high scoring tricks to take the win. He did it – but only by 0.5 points! #tight

GKA Cabarete Air Games 2018 - Final Day

Paul Serin sending!

With a guaranteed podium position in the bag, Jesse’s relentless march up the table continued and next he beat Posito Martinez in what, from the beach, looked like one of the tightest heats of the entire event. Posito struck first with a massive boogie loop before Jesse stuck a huge board-off rotation and another double half cab. In the dying seconds, it looked like Posito might have been in with a serious when he stuck a lofty backside board-off handlepass to toeside but Jesse had already done enough by this stage and he would be taking on Carlos Mario in a bid for his second event win of the season.

GKA Cabarete Air Games 2018 - Final Day

Posito sprints up the beach for an equipment change – a key tactic that all of the competitors have employed this week to make sure they’re riding the right board or kite when going for big air or focusing on wakestyle tricks

Jesse began on his bigger kite and was putting it all on the line from the start, but Carlos opened with a faultless double heart attack before following up with a clean kiteloop nine scoring himself two tens in the process. Then he grabbed his strapped board and stuck a massive board-off triple front roll in the last minute, and before he and Jesse even left the water, it was pretty clear who’d clinched it.

GKA Cabarete Air Games 2018 - Final Day

Carlos ‘The Machine’ Mario living up to his name!

Carlos was on fire today and this win underlines the point that he’s not just a new school freestyle fanatic. He went from landing cutting edge wakestyle moves to doing board-off triple frontrolls. He’s the full package!


GKA Cabarete Air Games 2018 - Final Day

Rita Arnaus airs

The women’s division was down to six riders by the start of today and Valesa drew first blood by taking out Rita Arnaus in a closely contested heat (Rita went straight to the judges tower to check her scores – she knew it’d been close). Valesa then fell to single-eliminations third placer Pippa van Iersel, who’s consistently thrown some of the most powered passes we’ve seen in the women’s division at this event, but then Hannah Whiteley stopped her climbing any higher up the ladder with some huge tweaked nosegrab frontrolls backed up with super stylish big-air moves.

So, this meant it would be Hannah and Mikaili meeting once again in their third final of the year (including the single elimination from earlier this week).

GKA Cabarete Air Games 2018 - Final Day

Hannah Whiteley pulls out all the stops against Mikaili in the final

Hannah kicked things off with a sizeable ‘superwoman’ board-off, some massive grabbed rotations and a super-clean blind judge but Mikaili was ready to respond and she stuck a big triple front roll which she followed up with a double frontroll board off to toeside and then a STOMPED slim chance to take the win.

GKA Cabarete Air Games 2018 - Main Event - Day Three

Mikaili Sol soars to glory

Hannah and Mikaili have distinguished themselves at the top of the women’s division so far this season but Mikaili seems to have an ability to find another gear when it comes to crucial heats like this one. She didn’t have a massive lead over Hannah today, but she was smooth, consistent and she wasn’t making many mistakes. At this level that’s what it takes!




The main event is now complete but there’s still action coming up tomorrow in the Expression Session! 

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