Green light for Big Air title battles in Tarifa

Published 26th April 2023 by Ian MacKinnon



  • Title holders to return to Balneario for second year to begin fight in kiteboarding world championships

  • Kiteboarding’s biggest names to be honoured for achievements at Qatar Airways GKA Awards event

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

The Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Kite World Championships are set to kick-off in Tarifa, Spain, on Friday, with the high-octane Surfboard and Hydrofoil disciplines first up after the tour director flashed the “green” warning signal ahead of a promising wind forecast.

With just one day of moderately strong Levante winds predicted, the organisers decided to call only riders in the compact Surfboard and Hydrofoil divisions to Tarifa’s Balneario beach to open the biggest kiteboarding event of the season.

The event will feature three adrenaline-pumping Big Air disciplines—Twin-Tip, Surfboard and Hydrofoil. But as the GKA team scopes out the best conditions for the action, the decision was taken that the blue ribband Twin-Tip event would revert to a “red” light, “hold” status, awaiting the strongest Levante winds.

Women’s Twin-Tip title holder, 18-year-old Mikaili Sol (USA), has already opened her account and kept the defence on her crown on track with a stunning win in the first round at the Lords of Tram GKA Big Air Kite World Cup in France.

Spain’s Liam Whaley, a past freestyle world champion, is seeded top in the Twin-Tip class after he won at Lords of Tram in Barcarès at the beginning of April with a standout display.

Whaley turned the tables to defeat Italy’s Andrea Principi, 18, in the final at Lords of Tram. Principi had won the coveted Twin-Tip world title at the maiden Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Kite World Championships in Tarifa last year, when he overhauled Whaley in the final.

Prize purse €40,000

Both Whaley and Sol will be eager to close out the Twin-Tip world titles in Tarifa. Winners of the Big Air Surfboard (formerly Strapless) and Big Air Hydrofoil world championships will also be crowned at the conclusion of the Tarifa event.

Total prize money of €40,000 will be up for grabs, with the purse split equally between the disciplines, and the men and women.

The GKA Big Air World Championships holding period began on 26 May and runs to 16 June. The three week competition window is designed to give the event directors the chance to choose the strongest Levante winds—which can blow from 30 to 50 knots—to provide the greatest Big Air show.

Gala awards evening

During the competition window, the Qatar Airways GKA Awards night will be held for the second successive year at Tarifa’s Teatro Municipal Alameda, on 3 June. The biggest names in kiteboarding will be honoured for their achievements and their contributions to the sport at the star-studded gala evening.

But on the water the competition will be intense when the action opens. France’s 16-year-old Capucine Delannoy, the Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Strapless (Surfboard) World Champion, is top seed and has been training hard in Tarifa to defend her crown.

Italy’s Airton Cozzolino is also seeded number one after he landed the GKA Big Air Strapless title last year, seeing off tough challenges from Gabriel Benetton (BRA) and reigning Red Bull King of the Air, Lorenzo Casati (ITA), who took the third podium step.

Video entries chosen

In the Big Air Hydrofoil division, France’s Charles Brodel is top seed after he took the title last year, winning out over the Netherlands’ Jamie Overbeek, 17, with the multi-talented Swiss rider, Maxime Chabloz, the third seed.

Each Big Air discipline has a number of pre-selected riders, dependent on their GKA world rankings. But a number of other places, which varied between each discipline, were chosen from video entries.

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 full riders’ list

Men’s Twin-Tip

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

Men’s Hydrofoil

Charles Brodel
Jamie Overbeek
Alex Soto
Finn Flügel
Joselito del Rosario
Maxime-Luan Desjardins
Joppe van de Poll
Hunter Becker

Women’s Twin-Tip

Mikaili Sol
Nathalie Lambrecht
Zara Hoogenraad
Angely Bouillot
Justine Avril
Karlie Thoma
Michaela Pilkenton
Francesca Maini
Jasmine Cho
Nora Klement
Alessa Mensch
Sarah Sadek

Men’s Surfboard

Airton Cozzolino
Lorenzo Casati
Camille Delannoy
James Carew
Keanu Merten
Matt Maxwell
Kiko Roig
Noah Nicolas
Javier Lopez
Nicolas Abadjiev
Leonardo Casati
Marc Garriga

Women’s Surfboard

Capucine Delannoy
Camille Losserand
Mikaili Sol
Kesiane Rodrigues
Sofia Monti
Zoe Bazile
Barbara Sgardello

Spot Information

Tarifa, the kitesurfing capital of Europe, has grown immensely in popularity after it became a windsurfing hub in the 1980s. The Andalusian town in southern Spain still retains its old-world charm.

It is blessed with strong Levante and Poniente breezes that make it a magnet for windsports’ devotees. The Levante blows from the land, cross-offshore from the left. It can be strong, from 30 knots to 50 knots, often blowing for five days straight. The Poniente is more mellow, blowing cross-onshore from the right. It is cooler and more frequent in summer, and can blow from 15 knots to 25 knots for two or three days in a row. Tarifa often sees both winds during competitions, creating intense conditions.

Although Tarifa can get good wave conditions in the winter months, in summer expect wind chop that provides superb ramps for Twin-Tip freestylers to boost off. Landings can be tricky in the gustier, stronger Levante winds and choppy waters. But that’s all part of the game—separating the best from the rest.

words: Ian MacKinnon
pictures: Samuel Cárdenas

Find 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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