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Winners crowned after tricky contest in France

Published 20th August 2023 by Ian MacKinnon

 

Leading men share honours in freestyle world cup in Dunkerque as Bruna Kajiya goes top of standings

GKA Freestyle Kite World Cup Dunkerque, France 2023
Place du Centenaire, 16—20 August

The winners in the GKA Freestyle Kite World Cup Dunkerque, in northern France, have been crowned after a difficult five-day competition when the fickle breezes teased the athletes but also sparked some big performances.

Brazil’s Bruna Kajiya won the women’s competition on day two with stellar riding that takes her to the top of the rankings with just two more freestyle discipline stops remaining on the Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour.

“I’m super-happy, obviously,” said Kajiya. “I feel like the hard work has paid off. I’ve been training quite hard and I felt confident for this event. I think it’s a really good place to be as an athlete. So it’s a really special event for me and I’m very happy. It feels amazing [to top the standings]. That’s what I work for and when you see it shaping up it’s very special.”

Kajiya had secured the win with smooth and assured riding during the final in tricky conditions, overhauling Spain’s Claudia Léon, who took the second podium spot just a few points behind the Brazilian athlete.

“I’m super, super happy with my second place,” said Léon. “I feel super-stoked to keep training, to keep competing. It was tough but we all made it really good. I’m super, super happy to be going to the next one in Brazil. I was happy with my riding here because the conditions weren’t so perfect.”

The men’s competition was less fortunate. After intense battles and stunning action at the opening of the contest on day two, the competition was perfectly poised for a thrilling showdown in the men’s semi-finals and finals.

Big show for crowds

Both four-man semi-finals served up some incredible action in the North Sea kickers, with two riders from each heat advancing to the final. It was a face-off between current world champion, Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA), past champions Arthur Guillebert (FRA) and Carlos Mario (BRA), and Maxime Chabloz (SUI).

The final only began properly in the early evening after the wind toyed with the athletes for much of the fourth day. But they still managed to put on a big show for the crowds lining the wide beach.

When the wind dropped out late in the day and failed to show up on the fifth and final day, the four athletes had to settle for joint first places and equal ranking points for the world title.

For the multi-talented Chabloz it was slightly bitter-sweet as it dented his title hopes because he missed the season’s opening freestyle stop as it clashed with a skiing competition.

“Obviously I’m a little bit disappointed we didn’t get the wind to finish the event, which was not great for me,” said Chabloz. “I missed the first event, so it’s not ideal to finish in joint first place with other title contenders. But at the end of the day my title hopes are still high and the next event is in Brazil. I’m really confident for that, so I’m excited.”

France’s Guillebert was stoked to have had the opportunity to battle on home waters and buoyed by his performance as he had little chance to train beforehand.

“Everything’s possible”

“I feel super-good,” said Guillebert. “I’m happy to perform here in France, because I’m French. We missed a bit of wind at the end to finish the final. But I was happy with my riding as I didn’t train a lot before this competition. So, I got to the final without much training.”

World champion Coccoluto knows his bid to retain his crown is still very much on track, despite having to share the points with rivals.

“I feel really good,” he said. “I feel a bit said that we didn’t finish the final, but super-happy for the result, super-happy with the competition. The conditions were a bit hard, but we managed to do our tricks and I can’t wait to come back next year. For my title  chances it doesn’t affect anything. I did the first two stops. So everything’s possible. I still can win in Qatar and take the title.”

Tour leader, Brazil’s Mario, was pleased with his performance in France and is looking ahead to advancing his bid for another world title on home waters.

“I’m very happy to be in France once again,” he said. “I think Dunkerque is an amazing place with great conditions. It’s a shame that we didn’t manage to finish the final, but I’m super-happy with my result. I’m going back to Brazil to rest and train for the next event there, so I’m 100 percent prepared for the world title this year.”

The next freestyle event will be in Ceara, Brazil, in November. Join us for all the action here.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Samuel Cárdenas

GKA Freestyle Kite World Cup Dunkerque 2023 results

Women
1 Bruna Kajiya (BRA)
2 Claudia Léon (ESP)
3 Francesca Bagnoli (ITA)
4 Therese Taabbel (DEN)

Men
1 Carlos Mario (BRA)
1 Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA)
1 Arthur Guillebert (FRA)
1 Maxime Chabloz (SUI)

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