A thrilling day at the Virgin Kitesurf World Championships (VKWC) third stop in Tarifa saw impressive battles that enthralled the crowds. With gusts up to 40 knots, the best riders rode hard to make their way to the finals.
In the female competition, reigning world champion Karolina Winkowska (PL) claimed the victory for the third time this season. As for males, Carlos Mario (BR) dominated the day and took his second event win ever after Argentina 2013.
Mario made his way to the final…
The day started with an unstoppable Carlos Mario facing current world champion Christophe Tack (BE). The wind seriously picked up during the heat, preventing riders even to unhook. But Mario still managed to pull off great tricks such as a Back Side 317, a 317, a double Hinterberger Mobe 5 as well as a double Heart Attack. He put on a display of incredible level and advanced against Tack to the semifinals where he met five-time world champion Aaron Hadlow (GB).
The 17 years-old Brazilian kept the momentum going and performed again against the British rider, nailing several double handle passes with a blistering facility. Aaron Hadlow still landed clean moves such as a Back Side 315 but struggled to land his S-Mobe 7 and crashed several times.
…So did Jacobs
Kiwi Marc Jacobs (NZ) had a difficult first heat confronting Youri Zoon (NL), his best buddy on the Tour. This battle saw an impressive close heat where both riders took their time to adapt to the strong wind. Jacobs found himself really overpowered but answered back to each great move two-time world champion Zoon landed. It finally came to the Kiwi competitor by 1.5 point, allowing him to meet Liam Whaley (ES) in the semifinals. Current number one Whaley did not start the heat very well as he had a problem with his kite and had to change it. He still tried to put pressure on Marc Jacobs who stayed focused and powerful in every trick he landed. The scores were extremely close again but Jacobs advanced in the final.
The battle for victory
The winners final opposed Carlos Mario with Marc Jacobs in front of a large audience avid for action. Both started with the same perfect Front Blind Mobes, setting the tone and announcing that it was going to be a stiff competition. Mario crashed and had to go out on a 9 meter kite instead of a 7m. He came back to the water and immediately landed an incredible double Heart Attack, putting the spectators on fire. Powerhouse Marc Jacobs rode very well but could not match the trick list of “Bêbe” (Carlos Mario) composed with almost perfect Back Side 317, 317 and a Heart Attack 5. The Brazilian stayed consistent during the whole event, delivering smartly constructed heats with incredible ease.
Carlos Mario: “The level was really high but thanks to God I managed to pull off the tricks I wanted. I went on my 7m but the wind started to die and I quickly switched to my 9m which was perfect. The conditions were very strong and gusty here. In Brazil I was training with my 14m and 12m and when I got here and had to use my 7 and 6m it was very difficult but luckily I could do all the tricks I wanted. I am so happy but I don’t have words to describe what I feel right now”.
Marc Jacobs: “I’m super stocked to be second, I mean I wasn’t expecting it to be honest but strong winds always kind of help me. The conditions were pretty hard, my smallest kite was a 8m and most guys were on 7m or 6m and I’m stocked I made it work. I’m super happy for Bêbe because he is riding super insane and he deserved a win, he has just been a little unlucky on the first two events so it’s good to see he got it on this one. Balneario is sick, you can’t get any better spot here in Tarifa, the level was twice as better here than it would have been on the other spot”.
Liam Whaley: “In the semifinal against Marc Jacobs my kite blew up in the air because my one pump system wasn’t connected properly so my kite completely deflated. My friend came really fast with a 5.5m but the lines were not adjusted properly and I did a perfect BS317 but my kite didn’t react properly and couldn’t ride completely out of the trick so it was considered as a crash. Then I think I did alright in the mini final so I’m happy I got the third place. My knee is a bit unstable but I didn’t have any pain in it. I’m going to get an MRI now to check what’s up and hopefully I can compete in the next event but if not I’ll use it as a discard, we’ll see”.
The mini final
Liam Whaley was up against Aaron Hadlow in the race for the third spot on the podium. Hadlow crashed his kite just before the heat and Liam helped him relaunching it. A great gesture of fair play that delighted the audience. Both competitors rode very well, landing a Tootsie Roll and the biggest Crow Mobe 5 of the event for Hadlow, and a double Heart Attack and a Back Side 317 for Whaley. Aaron Hadlow delivered his most powered heat of the competition but Liam Whaley made the difference and ranked third for the first time of the season.
Winkowska made her way to the final…
It took time to Polish world champion to enter her heat in the semifinals against Paula Novotna (CZ). As for the Czech rider, she broke her leash and lost her kite. Both struggled with the strong winds and had a close heat but Winkowska managed to nail a powerful S-Bend to Blind that gave her the win.
…So did Pulido
Gisela Pulido (ES) was opposed with Bruna Kajiya (BR) in the semifinals. Both riders did a great job in the tough conditions, executing Blind Judges, 313, Front to Blinds and S-Bend to Blinds. Bruna Kajiya fell behind by crashing too many tricks at the end of the seven minutes. As for nine-time Spanish world champion, she landed five high scoring tricks and advanced to the winners final.
The clash of the titans
Crowds were cheering for local champion Gisela Pulido as soon as she took to the water. Unfortunately, she suffered a host of crashes that prevented her from competing properly, even if she still landed a great S-Mobe and a S-Bend to Blind. In the meantime, Karolina kept on adding points to her score putting on a display of consistency and great variety of tricks. Her well-executed and powerful Back to Blind, Front to Blind and Slim 5 allowed her to claim her third victory of the season.
The mini final
Bruna Kajiya and Paula Novotna first heat had to be re-run after both riders tangled their kites and one of Kajiya lines broke. The Brazilian rider then went for a “go-for-broke” approach while Paula crashed too many times to rival.
Karolina Winkowska: “I feel awesome, I had a really good final heat. I had so many Polish people screaming Karolina, Karolina go for it!!! I had fans and being here surrounded by the crowd cheering was so nice. This is the hardest place for me because it’s Gisela’s hometown, it’s like the place she trains the most, but in the end it’s only about tricks. I did a very big Front to Blind I was really happy about, it felt the best. I think it was actually my best heat“.
Gisela Pulido: “In the semifinal against Bruna I was happy about my gear, I was riding my 6m on short lines but in the final the wind kind of dropped and I didn’t have another 6m with longer lines which would have made a big difference. I didn’t have enough power and I was struggling so I’m not very happy. I like it here because people can watch from the beach and I was happy to have some much people supporting me. It posted about the event on Facebook and some guys came to me saying “Hey I came just because I wanted to see you” and that makes me feel very happy because people are motivated about the sport”.
Bruna Kajiya: “I was stressed because we had to re-run the heat after we tangled our kites and my best bar broke. I was having a really good heat, I did four tricks I felt good about, one of them being a S-Mobe that I was like BOOM really good, and then I got tangled in the buoy. But in the end I won and I’m happy about that, it’s been a day full of emotions. We always aim for something bigger but I mean it’s competition and they all ride so well so I’m happy about my third place“.