Title races on knife edge heading to Qatar

Published 24th November 2023 by Ian MacKinnon


Freestyle athletes primed for battle with fight for crowns still wide open ahead of season finale in Fuwairit

Visit Qatar GKA Freestyle-Kite World Cup Finals Qatar
Fuwairit Kite Beach, 5-9 December, 2023

The climactic final stop of the Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour promises to be a thriller with the world title races in the Freestyle discipline still wide open after a season-long drama.

The fifth and final call at the Visit Qatar GKA Freestyle-Kite World Cup Finals Qatar will play out at the purpose-built Fuwairit Kite Beach resort’s lagoon, where the men’s and women’s champions will be crowned.

The season’s climax in Fuwairit, in early December, sees the globe-trotting tour come full circle, ending where it began the year last February in the perfect Freestyle setting that boasts mirror-flat waters and steady breezes.

But after four stops the world title races are too close to call, with any one of a number of athletes still capable of landing the crown in kiteboarding’s key, Freestyle discipline.

Brazil’s Carlos Mario, the past four-times Freestyle world champion, leads the overall standings going into the final round. But his hopes of stretching his lead were dashed when he was defeated in the semi-finals of the last round in Cauipe, Brazil, earlier this month.

Shock early exit

Current world champion, Italy’s Gianmaria Coccoluto, lies just behind the Brazilian on the leaderboard. He opened the defence of his title with a win in Fuwairit at the start of the year, but he also suffered a shock early exit in the quarter-finals in Brazil.

Switzerland’s Maxime Chabloz is a man on the move, climbing to third in the rankings. He lies just a few points behind the leading pair and is still very much in with a shout for the crown after finishing second in Brazil, ahead of his main title rivals.

The multi-talented Swiss athlete, who is the 2022 Freeride skiing world champion, saw his bid for the world title hampered after having to miss the opening stop in Fuwairit because it clashed with a skiing competition.

On the women’s side, the battle for the title is just as finely poised. But with three wins from four, the Brazilian veteran Bruna Kajiya leads the pack and is hungry to add a fourth Freestyle world championship crown to her haul.

Cemented top spot

Kajiya, at 36 the most senior woman on the tour, pressed her case for another world title when she cemented her position at the head of the standings with a narrow victory at the stop in Brazil.

The current and four-times GKA Freestyle world champion, Mikaili Sol (USA), lies second in the rankings, within touching distance of the Brazilian. The teenaged champion has one win this season, but lost out to Kajiya in Brazil in the final by the finest of margins.

The Spanish athlete Claudia León has had a strong season, but slipped up in Brazil when she exited in the semi-final with a heavy crash that ended her run. She sits third overall and is all but out of contention for the title, though she still has a good claim for a podium finish.

No doubt it will be a thrilling end to the season at Fuwairit Kite Beach, packed with drama and high-octane action. Join us to discover who will be crowned our 2023 Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle-Kite World Champions.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Svetlana Romantsova

Spot Info

Fuwairit Kite Beach
The resort at Fuwairit Kite Beach is a purpose-built facility. The hotel sits right in front of the kiting lagoon that looks out on to the Arabian Sea. It offers mirror-flat waters and steady breezes that make it the perfect playground for Freestyle athletes to showcase their skills.

The average temperature in Qatar during January and February ranges between a high of 71°F (22°C) and a low of 62°F (17°C). Sea temperature ranges from 18°C—20°C. A wetsuit is recommended.

A side-shore wind direction from the left ranges from 15–25 knots.

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