GKA Kite World Cup Mauritius – Day Four Freestyle Finals

Published 9th September 2019 by Andrea Susanne Opielka


Monday 9th September
Discipline: Freestyle
Report: Jim Gaunt
Photos: Ydwer van der Heide and Svetlana Romantsova
Videos: Mintautas Grigas 


“Going for tricks that need a score of 9 or above for a lot of the heat is so much pressure.” a deflated Liam Whaley admitted to the crowd from third place on the podium. The Spaniard was reflecting after a day of super tight competition in both the men and women’s Freestyle discipline at the GKA Kite World Cup Mauritius, taking place in front of the Heritage Hotel’s C-Beach Club and the Kite Globing centre, in Bel Ombre.

The day started at the quarter final stage for the men, while the women had already progressed to the semis.

Find all heat reports in full on the Freestyle live event page here.

Discipline: Freestyle
Judging Criteria: Pure freestyle (4 tricks from 4 different trick families count from 7 attempts. Riders take turns to perform one trick in a minute) Two riders advance from each heat.

Wind: 20 – 25 knots

The event is hosted at Bel Ombre by: C-Beach Club and Kite Globing

As well as being packed with incredibly high trick and heat scores throughout, there was also tragedy and heartbreak.

Stefan Spiessberger is one of the longest-standing freestyle competitors that the sport has seen. He re-dislocated his shoulder at the start of the second quarter final when the bar pulled him forward and he caught a rail. In a rather more freak accident, reigning champion Carlos Mario injured his knee during the warm-up for his semi-final…

We wish them both well, but Mario’s sudden withdrawal offered the chance to this year’s new tour leader, Maxime Chabloz, to really capitalise on points.

The Men’s semi finals lined up like this:

L Whaley (ESP) / P Martinez (DR) / V Rodriguez (COL) / C Mario (BRA – out injured)

N Delmas (FRA) / A Guillebert (FRA) / A Corniel (DR) / M Chabloz (CZE)

GKA Kite World Tour Freestyle finals Mauritius

In truth, the Freestyle competition takes some getting to know. The tricks are of course very technical, often with very little obvious differences between each trick to those not ‘in the know’, but if you were stood on the beach here in Bel Ombre there was no chance to say that new school freestyle was done at low altitude today. The first semi final was one of the best heats of freestyle kiteboarding we’ve ever seen in recent years.

Riders were attacking their tricks with furious venom, each throwing their trick on their first run out in their allotted minute, usually in the first 15 seconds, such was their focus. You got the impression they all knew that as soon as they took their foot off the gas, the others would pounce, sensing the loss of momentum.

Posito Martinez scored the day’s joint highest trick score with a 9.9 for a heart attack 7 (Liam Whaley got the other 9.9), but the Domincan would finish in third, agonisingly just 0.27 off qualifying for the final in second.

GKA Kite World Tour Freestyle finals Mauritius

Liam Whaley’s 9.6 for a KGB7 on his penultimate trick had moved him into first, where he finished, just ahead of a battered Valentin Rodrigues who survived the biggest front edge wipeout you can imagine, coming down from the stars on trick six.

You can read the heat notes HERE. Man on man competition and high calibre peak performance riding, trick after trick, doesn’t get any better.

The second semi-final would have been the heat of the event, had it not been for semi-final 01. The scorecard was littered with high eights and one nine point score (Adeuri), but the headline story was the final point tally of the top three:

Adeuri Corniel: 33.93
Nicolas Delmas: 33.9
Maxima Chabloz: 33.17
A Guillebert: 22.03

Adeuri beat Delmas by 0.3, while Maxime Chabloz was left to rue the chance to extend his lead at the top of the championship by missing a good take-off and getting a really low trick score on his final attempt, missing out on the final by 0.7 points!

The margins are so tight and the judges are called on with great pressure to separate them.

I often sit in the judge’s tower when making notes and head judge Mallory de la Villemarque constantly keeps the judges focused on the scale, reminding them of the other same tricks that heat: “Remember what you scored Valentin for his heart attack 7 – scale against that everyone.”

So yeah, the scores today were high, but if you study back through the scores online, you’ll see that there were many nines, for 319s, slim 9s, KGB 7s… and heart attack 7s.

Freestyle Final Action Highlights

GKA Kite World Tour Freestyle finals Mauritius


Valentin Rodriguez (COL) / Nicolas Delmas (FRA) / Liam Whaley (ESP) / Adeuri Corniel (DR)

Judging by the standards we’d just seen in the semis, there was less pure athletic accuracy in the final, but of course more tension. Let’s join the liveticker notes from the final as it happened on the last trick:

Last trick time!
Rodriguez up first in the order: Oh man, he gets 9.83 for a KGB 7 and takes the lead for the first time!

Liam’s in third and needs 7.94 to bunny hop into first place. Again, for the second trick in a row the Spaniard just doesn’t get the take-off, his kite goes high and nothing… (later explaining that his leash got caught and he couldn’t make the pass!).

Here we go: Adeuri Corniel – last trick of the whole contest – he’s gone the highest all day and led the final for the whole heat but now lies in second, needing a straight 9 to take the win from Rodriguez. The beach erupts as he takes off: kicking-off huge spray as usual when he pops, he gets massive height and gives himself a great chance by landing a heart attack 7!

MC for the day Matchu Lopes talks over the excitement while the scoreboard goes blank as the judges think… Noooo way! He gets a clean 9 points and wins by… 0.01. The Rodriguez camp’s elation goes silent…

You literally couldn’t write it. Separate scores from five judges are accumulated and the average score comes out at 9 points… on the nose? Mental.

There was some discussion as to the merits of 9 points for a his heart attack 7, but look back over the final heat scores:

Rodrigues: 9.63 points – heart attack 7 (trick # 4)
Whaley: 9.9 points – heart attack 7 (trick #5)
Corniel: 9 points – heart attack 7 (trick #7) (the heat score online incorrectly listed the trick as HA not HA7 by the way)

So, Adeuri’s was the lowest scoring HA7 in an event in which that trick often made the difference.

Freestyle is about raw power, bravery, immense skill and technicality. Often the finer fractions make the difference. Today Corniel was the benefactor.

1 Adeuri Corniel (DR) 36.2 points
2 Valentin Rodriguez (COL) 36.19
3 Liam Whaley (ESP) 32.56
4 Nicolas Delmas (FRA) 24.46

GKA Kite World Tour Freestyle finals Mauritius
Claudia Leon


Starting at the semi-final stage, the top three women in this year’s champinship were all still in contention: Mikaili Sol, Pippa van Iersel and Bruna Kajiya all knew that this was a critical event to win.

Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE) / Claudia Leon (ESP) / Bruna Kajiya (BRA) / Paula Novotna (CZE)

GKA Kite World Tour Freestyle finals Mauritius

Rising star and probably most improved female this season, Spaniard Claudia Leon led much of the heat, but on trick six she opened the door for Brazilian championship chaser Kajiya with a poor Hinterberger 5. Bruna capitalised with a superb front roll to wrapped and her 28.02 heat total from six tricks was on par with the top standard in the men’s.

Leon’s 7 point Hinterberger frontside 3 final trick wasn’t enough to beat Bruna, so Bruna was through with one trick in hand… unless Novotna in third could get an 8.53 or better… but she missed the bar… and with that the Fuerteventura winner’s chances of making the podium also slipped through her fingers.

GKA Kite World Tour Freestyle finals Mauritius
Time to cool down. Mikaili with coach Fabio Ingrosso

Therese Taabbel (DEN) / Pippa van Iersel (NED) / Rita Arnaus (ESP) / Mikaili Sol (BRA)

“Often the only person who can beat Mikaili is Mikaili herself.” explained Duotone team manager, Craig Cunningham. And so it showed in this semi final. The current champion crashed her first four tricks. Why does she do it to herself? She goes way bigger and more powerfully than any other rider, but it’s no good if you don’t land. Could she catch up now from zero points in rock bottom with just three tricks left counting instead of four? (Assuming she’d land all those three…)

GKA Kite World Tour Freestyle finals Mauritius

Rita Arnaus was having an incredible heat, so clean, smooth and collected. The Spaniard’s scorecard included a 9 point heart attack and she was through to the final in first place with two tricks still left to go. Amazing performance, finishing on 26.7 points.

Onto van Iersel in second, what did she have? A disaster, that’s what! The Dutch rider crashed at a key moment, going for an S-bend to blind…

Tarbell moved to second with a 5.4 slim.

GKA Kite World Tour Freestyle finals Mauritius
Mikaili rising under pressure

Last rider to go: Mikaili had somehow clawed her way back to have second place within grasp, needing a 5.01 to take it and qualify for the final. She bore away, faded a long way downwind towards the pull of her kite, crouched for what seemed like an age before popping: a 6.32 for a 313!

She’s class. Maybe she just likes to entertain? How do you compete against a 14 year-old like that, knowing you’re never safe, even if she doesn’t have the full four tricks to count?

GKA Kite World Tour Freestyle finals Mauritius
Sol in the swing

Mikaili Sol (BRA) / Claudia Leon (ESP) / Bruna Kajiya (BRA) / Rita Arnaus (ESP)

A different Mikaili came out for the final and she put on a flawless display of well timed hammer-blows to her opponents.

Bruna stayed with her for the first half of the heat before she crashed a crucial front blind mobe on trick four. Mikaili turned the screw with a neat and technical KGB, scoring 8.53. She went on to become uncatchable on trick six with a super cool slim 5 earning her a whopping 9.13 points.

Rita Arnaus continued to impress and what a day she had – cool and consistent but, above all, very clean with her kite low. Once again the heart attack caused heartbreak, this time for Bruna, when the pocket-sized Spaniard dropped a very fluid example for 8.37, regaining second place, pushing Bruna into third.

Claudia Leon deserves mention after a great event, most notably for her neck-and-neck heat against Mikaili yesterday when she peaked. Going toe to toe with the best in the world in freestyle can take the wind out of you, but she’s definitely got power in her sails and is on the up. Remember the name, she’s legit in her committed approach.


1 Mikaili Sol (BRA) 33.99
2 Rita Arnaus (ESP) 27.01
3 Bruna Kajiya (BRA) 25.03
4 Claudia Leon (ESP) 18.23

Find all the heat reports and ladders on the Freestyle live event page.

Find the individual trick scores for each heat here.

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