The final day of competition here in La Franqui, Leucate, was nothing short of exceptional. The completion of the Men’s Semi-finals took place first, followed by the Men’s Small Final, the Women’s Elite Final, and the Men’s Elite Final.
The first Semi-final of the day was full of anticipation until the very end, with Brazilian rider Set Teixeira landing some high scoring tricks such as Slim 7 and well executed Heart Attack to take the top spot. Liam Whaley didn’t land his last trick but still managed to just make his way into 2nd position with a clean Front Blind Mobe and Back Mobe 5. Conditions were tricky and riders were often having to change from 7 metre to 9 metre kites during their heat.
Semi-Final number two was full of tension between Aaron Hadlow from the Uk and Stefan Spiessberger from Austria. It was extremely close between them both but it finally came down to Spiessberger who landed his Slim 5 scoring just enough points to jump from 3rd into 2nd position, and ensuring his spot in the final. Current World Champion Carlos Mario clearly dominated the heat by landing his usual sequence of doubles including a Backside 315, 319 and Slim 7. He showed an extremely high riding level considering the difficult conditions.
The Men’s Small Final was another close battle between Posito Martinez from the Dominican Republic and Aaron Hadlow from the UK. Posito’s final KGB right in front of the judging tower and the crowd scored just enough points to place him in 1st position, with Hadlow taking second and Alex Pastor from Spain in 3rd.
The ladies final was next in sequence and it was an outstanding display from the very start. These ladies showed how far the bar has been raised in female kiteboarding. It was a tough battle right until the last trick attempt. World Champion Bruna Kajiya from Brasil took the win here in Leucate by landing a big S-Mobe, S-bend to Blind and Back to Blind. She was nothing short of delighted with her win for the first event of the year. Annabel Van Westerop came in 2nd extremely close behind her, with her focus and impressive riding giving her a wonderful start for the year. Francesca Bagnoli from Italy finished 3rd, an outstanding result for her first Elite League event.
“I’m delighted with my win here. I think the level of the girls is extremely high, and its been a challenging event, also because of the wind conditions, but this just makes the victory more worthwhile for me. I’m so happy to have so many talented girls with me in this final.” Bruna Kajiya, 2016 World Champion.
The Men’s Final took place in the early afternoon, infront of the large crowds that gathered along the beach in La Franqui. It was an unbelievable show right from the very start. All four riders landed huge tricks back to back right infront of the judges and the huge crowds who were cheering on the four finalists. It wasn’t until Carlos Mario’s last trick attempt the the 1st position was decided, and it was Liam Whaley from Spain who took the win by just 0.13 points. He landed massive tricks such as a Slim 7, Heart Attack 5, and a gigantic 317. Carlos Mario crashed his first two trick attempts, but then started landing incredibly high scores to make up for it including the first ever 10 scored on the WKL, which was a perfectly executed Heart Attack 7. Set Teixeira also from Brazil and Stefan Spiessberger from Austria rode an amazing heat also landing several doubles, and finally it was Set who took 3rd place and Stefan finishing in 4th. Altogether it was an outstanding final, with the crowds on the beach, the commentators in the studio and the followers watching from home all going wild.
The Big Air Expression Session final was held to finish off the day, with the riders boosting to heights of up to 15 metres. It was a fantastic performance for the crowds, with aerial jumps such as kite loops, and a massive double handle-pass from Luis Alberto Cruz. It was Luis Alberto Cruz from the Dominican Republic who took the win, thanks to more variety and height. In second position it was Joselito del Rosario also from Dominican Republic and in third place the young rider Valentin Rodriguez of just 14 years of age from Colombia.