The last day of competition of the Virgin Kitesurf World Championships (VKWC) third stop in Tarifa took place under a blazing sun at the stunning spot of Balneario. With the big air finals in sight, crowds settled on the beach to get close to their heroes and make the most of the show. Some other onlookers preferred siting on the rocks alongside the Atlantic Ocean to enjoy a better overview. The conditions were excellent for the big air discipline as the gusts attained 40 knots when the competition kicked off. Competitors delivered an impressively high spectacle with a host of massive Kite Loops combined with rotations and One Footers, double Handle Passes and Board Offs.
At the end of the day, the best VKWC riders of the event were awarded in front of a large audience. In the male category, Kevin Langeree (NL) took the victory for the second time this season after Dakhla’s stop. On the female side, Gisela Pulido (ES) earned her third crown in a row.
The riders who best performed today and reached the male final were British competitor Lewis Crathern, Kevin Langeree (NL), Ariel Corniel (DO) and Marius Hoppe (GE).
While Levante wind blew the whole day, it unfortunately dropped when it came to the final. Experienced Kevin Langeree still performed a very impressive Kite Loop with a late Back Roll that wowed spectators. He also executed a big Board Off as well as a Handle Pass, showing an amazing control of his kite. Corniel also had a great final managing to pull off the only double Handle Pass of the competition that put the crowd on fire. He unfortunately missed a second high score to beat his teammate Kevin Langeree. The Dominican rider reached the second position for the first time of the season. Marius Hoppe showed a great variety of moves combining Kite Loops with One Footers, Kite Loop Front Rolls and multiple rotations, giving him the third spot on the podium. As for Crathern, he had to switch to his 12 meter kite because he was underpowered but still could not express his skills as he hoped for, ending up fourth.
Kevin Langeree: “The competition was great. The big air is my favorite discipline, I just love it and coming here to Tarifa with Levante wind is great, especially on this spot where it’s offshore and the crowd can come very close to the shore. I think it’s great for the sport, it really showcases what kiteboarding is all about. I’m pretty sure everyone want to jump and fly when they are little kids, at least for me it was a huge motivation and this is what I wanted to do and to be good at.” He also said: “I’ve had two 1st places and one 2nd and I’m feeling pretty confident so hopefully I can take home the world title at the end of the year.”
Ariel Corniel: “I’m very happy, I did good even if I couldn’t reach the first position but the most important is to be on the podium and to have fun of course. The crowd was cheering for us and I am very happy. I was really impressed by the spot, we had flat water and strong winds and I hope next year the organization can run the event here again because it was excellent.”
Marius Hoppe: “My final heat was great and the competition was awesome. I’d never been so many times first of my heat so it’s incredible to get in the final for the first time. I was always nine and now I’m standing on the podium, this is all I wanted. The spot is insane, the flat water is beautiful, sometimes a bit gusty but incredibly strong and perfect for big loops.”
As for the females, the ones who made the difference were Rita Arnaus (ES), Hannah Whiteley (GB), Gisela Pulido (ES) and Isabeau Galiart (NL).
They suffered the same problem as men, confronting a dropping wind that prevented them from jumping as high as on the previous heats. Hannah Whiteley showed again promising abilities. She exhibited a great variety of tricks and was the only girl to perform a Board Off. The Spanish star Gisela had a wild local crowd supporting her at every trick she went for. She landed many moves such as a Back Roll Kite Loop and was the only female to pull off a Handle Pass which gave her the win. Wildcard Arnaus and outsider Galiart impressed the judges by delivering great Kite Loops and rotations but could not match the two more experienced riders, respectively ending up third and fourth.
Gisela Pulido: “I’m very happy to win for the third time. I try to do my best in the big air because it’s a discipline that I really like. I started kiting when I was 8 years old so I grew with the sport and that is what we did back in the days, we were jumping high doing rotations, Kite Loops and Handle Passes so I really enjoy it because it’s totally different than freestyle. Freestyle is my passion and what I like the most but it’s fun to jump high sometimes.”
Hannah Whiteley: “I’m really happy to be on the podium again, we’ve had some awesome conditions here in Tarifa and the wind has been so strong. Unfortunately it dropped a bit for the final, which is a bit frustrating but we are so lucky to have such an awesome spot, we had perfect wind through the whole event so it’s been really great to move to this spot. It’s the perfect scenery here for big air competition I think, plus it looks so dramatic because of the castle.”
Rita Arnaus: “I am very happy because at the beginning I didn’t plan to participate in this discipline but my friends pushed me and I finally entered. I had never done mega loops before and they told me how to do so I went for it. I had so much fun, winning two heats in a row and entering the final with Gisela and Hannah was really great. Now I’m going to train hard and will definitely join the next big air comp.”