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Visit Qatar GKA Freestyle-Kite World Cup - Update

by Jim Gaunt 4 Feb 08:14 PST 31 January - 4 February 2023

Due to light winds all day, there was no competition today, however solid winds are forecast for tomorrow (Friday). Skippers at 06.30am (GMT +3).

As was forecast, conditions continued to deliver the lighter southerly winds on day two of the Visit Qatar GKA Freestyle Kite World Cup, though a positive start was made to the competition and the line-up for the women's final is complete.

The riding fleet is very compact at this event with just 16 men and eight women. The level amongst the competitors is incredibly high, but with this reduced fleet the men started directly at the quarter final stage, with four heats of four riders. There would be no second chances to stay in the competition, so it was knock out from the beginning for the bottom two in each heat.

As the first event of the season, this event also sees the launch of some adjustments to the Freestyle judging format. The introduction of a new variety score is designed to help inspire new tricks and allows riders more freedom to add extra flow to their heat performances.

Recent years has also seen several riders sustain knee injuries while trying to push the possible number of handle-pass rotations harder and harder. This new scoring format that calls for more style, flow and variety should also help relieve some of that repetitive hardcore requirement.


Essentially, there are seven points available for 'variety' which can be added to a rider's best four trick scores from seven attempts in the heat. If they manage to land all four of those tricks in different trick families, they'll earn an extra seven points. The variety score breakdown is:

Landing all four tricks from the same single family: 1 point
Two families: 2 points
Three families: 4 points
Four families: 7 points


In his first comeback event in over a year, Mauritian Louka Pitot pushed four time World Champion Carlos Mario in to second to win the opening heat and claim the highest score of the day too.

Louka said, "Yeah I'm pleased, it's my first competition in a year and a half. I like the new format with variety. I didn't want to come back and do the same things anyway, so I think it adds more fun."

Head judge Alvaro Onieva confirmed, "We are already seeing positive effects from these format changes, with some riders immediately adding more creativity and flow in their tricks. For example Louka Pitot took the win at the end of the first heat precisely because of his higher variety score."

On his approach, Louka said, "I was imagining what combos would be good to go together to show flow. I didn't do my best yet for sure, but in the first heat of the day with a new format, and taking the win, it feels good."

Also running high on inspiration to hit each family was last year's title contender, Juan Rodriguez. The Colombian rolled back the years to the days when unhooked kite loops were all the rage, dropping a kite loop backside 315 in his quarter final heat, helping him secure the maximum available points for variety.

Judge Dani Jiminez commented, "Some riders who didn't yet take an event win could find themselves in commanding situations if they have the right strategy. This is the first event with this format though, and it will take time to see the real developments play out, especially considering the short gap between last year's final event in Brazil and this first event here in Qatar."

Due to dropping winds, the men's competition was put on hold during the last quarter final heat which featured current world champion, Gianmaria Coccoluto, and remains to be finished.

Manoel Soares, Karim Mahmoud, Juan Rodriguez and Valentin Rodriguez had already advanced to the semifinals.


A sand storm brought strengthening winds in the afternoon and the women took to the water for their semi-final heats. Despite the challenging conditions, the riders put in their all to reach the final.

Swede Nathalie Lambrecht finished with the highest heat score of the day, landing tricks from four different families for an overall score of 28.67.

Three-time World Champion Bruna Kajiya followed her through to the final in second place. The Brazilian claimed the women's highest trick score with her first trick attempt of the day, a stomped KGB that earned 6.93 from the judges, proving excellent execution is still just as important as variety.

Lighter winds prevailed in the second semi-final, but Mikaili Sol and Claudia Leon managed to dominate and also moved on to the final.

Women's final line-up:

  • Claudia Leon (ESP)
  • Bruna Kajiya (BRA)
  • Nathalie Labrecht (SWE)
  • Mikaili Sol (BRA)

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