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Visit Qatar GKA Freestyle-Kite World Cup - Final wrap-up and highlights

by Jim Gaunt 8 Feb 02:49 PST 31 January - 4 February 2023

Ahead of a season that's packed with events, anticipation levels were high for this first pure freestyle event, with the added excitement of competing at a brand new location and the addition of a new judging format that rewards riders who show a more varied performance.

Just under 90 minutes north of Doha, Fuwairit Kite Beach resort hosted the very first world tour kiteboarding competition to take place in Qatar. The stunning landlocked lagoon, situated directly in front of the resort facilities, delivers world class flat water conditions.

The FKB facilities have been custom built for the sport of kiteboarding in the last 18 months. Beyond the beautiful views and state-of-the-art beachside conveniences, Fuwairit also delivers one of the longest, most consistent wind seasons, running from November to July with a prevailing northerly wind that blows cross-onshore between 15 - 30 knots.

The tour will be returning to Qatar for the grand finals in December.

The competition

Hundreds of spectators flocked to Fuwairit to get their first taste of world class kiteboarding competition.

Looking to defend their 2022 world titles are Italian Gianmaria Coccoluto and six time world champion, Mika So, who took the crowns in Taiba, Brazil last November.

The Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle Kite World Championship format allows four riders in each heat to take turns to perform seven trick attempts, with their top four tricks counting towards their overall heat score. Riders get 40 seconds each to perform a trick before the next rider's countdown begins.

A new 'Variety' score has been added to the judging format for this season which would be combined on top of a rider's top four trick scores. The aim is to help push riders towards a more dynamic show, rewarding style and diversity rather than pure technicality. Read more on that at the end of this article.

Maintaining a high level of individual trick execution was still as important as ever, but hitting maximum variety points by landing all tricks in different trick families would prove essential for the win as the competition neared its climax.

Read the full story of how the finals played out here.

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