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Festival of Sails 2024 LEADERBOARD

Copa Kitley GKA Freestyle-Kite World Cup Brazil - Day 1

by Liam Dredge 9 Nov 08:10 PST 8-11 November, 2023

The eagerly-anticipated fourth Freestyle stop on the Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour opened with a bang in the idyllic setting of Cauipe lagoon, Ceará, in north-eastern Brazil.

Big opening performances from some athletes returning to the tour at the Copa Kitley GKA Freestyle-Kite World Cup Brazil served notice that there would be no easy victories for the top ranked riders.

Former Freestyle world champion Karolina Winkowska (POL), back on tour after giving birth to her daughter, showed she has lost none of competitive fire when she advanced in the competition with a convincing opening win.

Britain's Tom Bridge, competing on tour for the first time in a year, was another standout from the early rounds. New judging criteria this year that encourage variety and innovation play to Bridge's strengths and he delivered with dizzying combos that helped him advance to the quarter finals.

Pushing the boundaries

Twenty-eight men and 14 women from 18 nations around the world began their quest for honours on day one of the world cup in Cauipe. Many of the riders have been training hard in Cauipe in recent weeks.

Cauipe's famous butter-flat, warm waters and consistent strong breezes have helped the athletes to push their limits and the boundaries, coming into the competition with an arsenal of new and improved tricks.

The men were first on the water in the opening rounds. No athletes are eliminated in the ladder's early heats. These are effectively seeding rounds for the competition's later stages. Nonetheless, the level of tricks was sky-high.

Among the highlights from the opening exchanges were performances like those of Tom Bridge, who threw down mind-blowing combos. They were enough to earn him the day's highest heat total of 32.97, out of a possible 40 for his four counting tricks.

Home court advantage

Brazil's Erick Anderson, who qualified for the event from the preceding national competition, had home court advantage as he calls Cauipe his backyard. He lost his heat, but lives to fight again in Round 4.

France's Louka Pitot, who sits third in the rankings, opened his account with a big heat score of 31.37 by ticking off all the trick families to book his place in the quarter-finals.

Reigning world champion Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA), dipped his toes into the lagoon and also advanced to a quarter-final spot with a comfortable win. He is second in the overall rankings and hopes to retain his crown.

"I feel really good," said Coccoluto. "I'm super-stoked to have the competition in Cauipe. My first heat was really powerful on my 13m [kite] and the wind picked up like crazy. I managed to do all my tricks despite being overpowered with a few crashes. Let's see how tomorrow goes".

Opening skirmishes

The man who can do it on the water and in the mountains, Maxime Chabloz (SUI), will be looking to build on his second-place finish from last year's Taiba event. Chabloz put in a good shift to reach the quarter-final, along with Brazil's Davi Ribeiro, another of the first day's standouts.

In the first skirmishes of the women's contest, Brazil's Estefania Rosa opened her account with a solid slate of tricks in the perfect Freestyle conditions and moved forward straight to Round 3.

The coming days will see the top ranked women, Bruna Kajiya (BRA), Claudia León (ESP), Mikaili Sol (USA) and Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE) get their chance to go on the water to battle it out against the fleet's rising stars.

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