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Top title contenders poised for finals clash

Published 5th December 2023 by Caroline Morris

 

Bruna Kajiya and Mikaili Sol set for showdown in the decider for the coveted Freestyle crown in Qatar

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

The Visit Qatar GKA Freestyle Kite World Cup Finals kicked off with twenty registered athletes set to compete at the paradise Fuwairit Kite Beach, Qatar.  

As we’re poised for the final heats of the year, six riders are in the running for a chance at the world titles. On the women’s side, there are two clear title contenders where Mikaili Sol (BRA) needs to place first to win the world championship, although if Bruna Kajiya (BRA) places just third or higher, then she will steal the crown.

“We started the year in Qatar and we had really good wind that felt really nice, so that makes me very excited for the final as I have such great memories. I’m feeling super happy as after my home spot in Brazil, Qatar is my favourite stop.” – Bruna Kajiya

“This year has been challenging for me personally and professionally and I wasn’t able to compete in the Dunkirk event due to injury, so the competition is slightly out of my control. If I get to compete in the finals then I still have a chance for the world title. Let’s see what’s ahead and then start planning for the next year.” – Mikaili Sol

For the men, four riders are going into battle to be the world champion. Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA) will defend his title if he wins the event. Coccoluto, Maxime Chabloz (SUI) and Carlos Mario (BRA) are in with a chance even if they place second or third, depending on the scores of the other top riders. However, Arthur Guillebert (FRA) will need to win the event to claim the title if Mario places fifth or lower, as well as Cocoluto and Chabloz placing fourth or lower. As the wind continued to build, there was everything to play for.

“I have just come from Red Bull King of the Air in Cape Town so I’ve switched disciplines and my mind is now fully focused on freestyle. The wind is looking lighter, so we need to be more technically focused and with less power. The competition is on and for sure I will try my best.” – Arthur Guillebert

Dingle elimination

Fuwairit Kite Beach boasts a flatwater lagoon with the perfect setup for freestyle, but the wind started to build later than hoped. Due to lighter winds and a falling tide, the women’s heats opened the event later than anticipated.

Following a dingle elimination format for this event, only two women’s heats were needed to decide who would make it to the semi-finals. There was no room for errors as round one, heat one kicked off between Mikaili Sol, Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE) and Alexandra Torres (ESP).

Each rider took turns to perform six trick attempts with the best three counted towards their overall heat score. Nathalie Lambrecht started the heat strong securing the lead after two trick attempts, but former world champion Sol was hot on her heels. A standout KGB scored an impressive 7.97 for Sol and she stole the heat win, advancing straight to the final. All was not lost for Lambrecht and Torres as they moved on to battle it out again in the semi-final.

Next, Therese Taabbel (DEN) and Bruna Kajiya started throwing down in round one, heat two with Kajiya in the lead after two trick attempts. Kajiya lands her highest trick score of 7.10 for a Back Mobe which placed her comfortably in the lead to join her rival Sol in the final.

Finalists decided

The women’s semi-final saw Alexandra Torres, Nathalie Lambrecht and Therese Taabbel working the lighter winds to find their finesse on the water. Lambrecht lands the highest score from the women’s first tricks with a stylish S-Bend to Blind, but Therese Taabbel was close on her tail. The semi-final continued with Nathalie Lambrecht leading, followed by Taabbel and Torres, and tensions rising with just two trick attempts left for the final heat to be decided. Lambrecht maintained her position and advanced to join Kajiya and Sol in the women’s final. 

Unfortunately, the wind disappeared right at the crucial moment and the competition was concluded for the day with the final heat and world title hanging in the balance.

Tomorrow we set to run day two of the competition with the first possible start at 10:30. Stay tuned for further updates as events get underway throughout the week in Fuwairit, Qatar.  

words: Caroline Morris
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.

Weather
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.

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

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