Report By: Holly Keenan Photos by: Samuel Cardenas
With Spanish politicians, GKA riders and brand exhibitors all gathered together; we were able to commence the official opening ceremony for the Qatar Airways GKA Big Air World Championships!
We had more than two decades of kiteboarding legends present at the official opening ceremony, and It was amazing to have so many old and new faces show up at this event.
The Kitesurfing Legends Assemble
The GKA media team were lucky enough to talk with one of these kitesurfing legends, Jaime Herraiz. Jaime was one of the early innovators in the kitesurfing world and truly helped bring the sport to life. He has played a vital role in organizing the Qatar Airways GKA Big Air World Championships, and we found out a little bit about why this event means so much to him.
“It means a lot to me to have the GKA Big Air World Championships hosted in Tarifa. We work hard to place Tarifa at the forefront of the kitesurfing industry and show that this is one of the best places in the world to showcase a Big Air competition. Balneario offers the perfect conditions for riders to showcase their best manoeuvres.”
Increase In Prize Money
In other exciting news, we are happy to announce that the World championship winners’ prize money has increased for 2022 following the GKA’s new partnership with Qatar Airlines. An extra €22,000 was added for the world championship winners prize purse, in the Freestyle Twintip, Kite-surf and Hydrofoil disciplines. The increase in prize money will take effect at this event ( The Qatar Airways GKA World Championships in Tarifa) and onwards into all the 2022 events.
Riders To Keep A Close Eye On For This Event
As the strong Levante winds are yet to make an appearance, we have had plenty of time to catch up with some of the favourites for this event here in Tarifa.
Giel Vlugt (NL) – Twintip Big Air
One rider on everyone’s radar at the moment is the Dutch sender, Giel Vlugt. This man recently stormed the big air scene after winning the BAKL Full Power Tarifa Event and landing the first-ever S-Loop.
Nevertheless, what makes Giel a stand-out rider from the rest is his ability to progress at such an unprecedented rate. Giel has only been training big air for two years now, and he is already one of the most impressive riders on tour. I was curious to find out what his expectations were for this event.
“I haven’t set many expectations for myself at this event apart from showing what I am capable of doing. Of Course, I want to end up first, but you never know, it’s a competition, there are a lot of big names, and I plan to go and give my everything and see where it takes me.”
Aaron Hadlow (UK) – Twintip Big Air
From upcoming talents to long-time legends, it was great to have the one and only Aaron Hadlow back on the GKA World Tour.
“It’s been a little while since I have been on tour, but since the GKA Big Air Championships are here in Tarifa and it’s a one-time event, I thought I would give it a go!
I know the level is high here, and the young guys are pushing it, but if I thought I didn’t have a chance of making it to the top, then I wouldn’t be here doing it. I am still completely in love with the sport, and I still have the competitive drive, so I am eager to get out on the water and compete.”
Camille Losserand (CH) – Kite-Surf Big Air
The Swiss female kite-surfer Camille Losserand is lucky enough to call the competition spot her backyard! Camille has been living and training in Tarifa, and her level has improved dramatically over the previous months. She believes her local knowledge of the competition spot could be to her advantage.
“I cannot wait to compete in Balneario, my home spot, and I feel very confident in these conditions. I have also been pushing a few different tricks at Balneario, and I am excited to showcase them during the competition and hopefully stick the landings!”
What To Expect Over The Next Coming Days
So far, we have only received light, Poniente winds over the last few days but, with the current forecast we are hopeful to be able to run the hydrofoil big air competition on Sunday as the onshore wind are increasing.
Riders have been notified and must be prepared to compete the following day after the GKA Awards night. The wind is not predicted to be strong enough to run the twintip big air or the kite-surf big air but we are hopeful that the strong levante wind will make an appearance next Tuesday.
In the meantime, riders continue to enjoy the light Poniente winds, cruising around on foils and winging equipment.
Here’s how to stay up-to-date with all the events happening.