Strapless Freestyle action on Day 3 at GKA Tarifa

GKA Kite World Tour Tarifa women's podium

The thermals return to Valdevaqueros

And Carla Herrera Oria takes the podium once again in the single eliminations


GKA Kite World Tour Tarifa Carla Herrera Oria

Words: Jim Gaunt / Photos: Ydwer van der Heide 

Just when we were starting to think that the Tarifa thermal effect had gone on holiday, third day lucky blossomed with a building breeze from 11am and by 2pm the women’s Kite-Surf division were on the water for strapless freestyle action.

Cross-onshore from the right, the Poniente thermal was still light, hovering around 14 knots, but the women’s strapless freestyle division are particularly light in weight themselves, and made it work on 12 metre kites.


GKA Kite World Tour Tarifa


It’s proved a tough week so far for race director Juan Antonio Aragon as we’re now at the end of day three in a six day contest window. Adding to the stress, this is a double event featuring Kite-Surf and twin-tip Freestyle disciplines, with a massive 84 riders registered. So, the quickest way to a podium and get things rolling was via the women’s Kite-Surf strapless freestyle with a field of just 11.

This is still a relatively new discipline for the women and with leading wave specialists Moona Whyte and Ines Correia missing this event as well as the Germany round at Sylt last week, this was another chance for Vice World Champion Carla Herrera-Oria to move ahead in the rankings after her victory last week.


GKA Kite World Tour Tarifa Sabine Buekeleers


In truth it was a difficult session for the women with light conditions. Indeed the men have been developing this discipline as a bigger competitive group for several years, but Carla was worthy of her win here, once again managing to keep improving the consistency of her performance all the way to the final where she outshone the 51 year-old Belgian amateur rider, Sabine Beukeleers.


GKA Kite World Tour Tarifa women's podium



1st Carla Herrera-Oria (ESP)

2nd Sabine Beukeleers (BEL)

3rd Barbara Sgardello (ITA)

4th Johanna Catarina-Edin (SWE)



In a change to the expected proceedings, race director Juan went ahead and put the men’s Kite-Surf riders out as, again, it is the quickest division to reach a result given the format of being able to have more than one rider on the water at once.

If you watched the livestream or kept up with the GKA website’s new live ticker feed, you’ll have seen that the crew hustled, splitting the six man judging team in two so they could run 2 x two-man heats on the water at once.


GKA Kite World Tour Tarifa 2019


Round two switched to more traditional man-on-man heats with just two men on the water. Heat 11a between Italians Toni Cilliberto and Francesco Cappuzzo was eventually abandoned when the wind dropped below an acceptable level.

Highlights picked out from the men’s action were Barbadian Simon Joosten’s dramatically improving performance levels each event. Hands-down he dropped the most stylish trick today – a kite loop back roll in which he maintained the grab all the way round, came out of the rotation early and the landing was so guaranteed while still so far off the water that he was able to stylishly tweak out his back foot with the grab. It was super clean and he dumped top contender James Carew out of the singles.


GKA Kite World Tour Tarifa Kiko Roig Torres


Kiko Roig Torres is a 17 year old from Valencia and has also found his way into the top ten at several events in the last 12 months. He showed some serious flow in his tricks, also touching into the handle-pass category with an unhooked frontside three and surface pass on exit. His round two heat score of 34.1 against Canadian Reece Myerscough was the highest of the day.

Grom alert! We had a 12 year-old come close to knocking out the Australian powerhouse James Carew in round one! Keanu Mertens is clearly a natural. Event organiser Jaime Herraiz explained that he’s from Estepona, 50 kilometres from Tarifa, is part of a kitesurfing family, but notably also part of a new young crew in the region who are getting into strapless freestyle.


GKA Kite World Tour Keanu Mertens James Carew


“They really feel the new and positive atmosphere that the strapless riders have brought to Tarifa in the last five years that the tour has been coming here, and we’re just seeing the results in the next generation like Keanu now.” said Jaime. 

We continue to look forward to building conditions in the next few days. Tarifa has delivered memorable weekend events in the last seasons and we’ve got fingers crossed for another huge few days in the pipeline.

Remember, there are also 43 Freestyle competitors waiting in the wings to be let loose!


Full livestream below for you to flick through!



As this is a combined World Cup event with two disciplines, there are two live event pages and both have a new live ticker with real time text updates, so keep checking those to get yourself in the picture. 


Freestyle live event page here 

Kite-Surf live event page here

You can also get a more behind the scenes feel from the stories each day on the Freestyle or Kite-Surf Instagram channels.


Find tour news, rankings and more at

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