Luis Alberto Cruz GKA Air Games Cabarete

GKA Air Games Cabarete Finals and Video

Carlos Mario wins GKA Air Games Cabarete

Sunday 15th July, Cabarete
Report: Matt Pearce / Photos: Carlos Gonzales, Oli Dadswell and Genesis Reyes



At the end of four non-stop days of competition the Brazilians finished the GKA Kiteboarding World Tour Air Games Cabarete double elimination atop the podium, with the unstoppable Mikaili Sol taking her second event win of the season to make it ‘two from two’ before Carlos Mario topped his first GKA Air Games event podium.



It’s been an incredible week in Cabarete with perfect conditions all but one day since the riders arrived in town and Saturday afternoon was a fitting finale to the main event in pumping conditions on Cabarete Beach.

GKA Air Games Cabarete 2018 winners by Genesis Reyes

The finalists on day five


By the end of play on Friday, the field had been narrowed down to just nine men and Robinson Hilario and Adeuri Corniel were first up. Hilario’s riding style suits the Air Games format. He’s very comfy with the old-school / big-air side of things, but Adeuri was matching him trick for trick on a bigger kite than anyone else and he stuck some huge board-off rotations which he trucked into at full speed.

Adeuri Corniel big Air Games board off

Adeuri on the advance

Adeuri recently became the twintip racing Youth World Champion (TT:R) and will be representing the DR this October at the Youth Olympic Games, so he knows a thing or two about going flat-out and he was taking a similar approach in his heats here. He had the momentum, and he kept the charge to beat Louka Pitot in his next heat before taking out yesterday’s top performing local rider, Luis Alberto Cruz. It looked like he might go all the way as he prepared for his heat against Jesse Richman.

When he hit the water against Jesse he looked a little flustered though, maybe the occasion was getting to him or maybe it was the non-stop barrage of heats he’d just battled through, but he soon regained his composure and was pretty quickly matching Jesse for height and beginning to look like a real contender for the podium positions with the home crowd fully behind him on the beach.

Jesse Richman GKA Air Games Cabarete handlepass

Jesse Richman – on the edge as per usual

After a huge triple front roll and a massive board-off front roll he was looking pretty dominant but then Jesse hit back with a series of massive half cabs, board-offs and a kiteloop double half cab and sealed the deal with a board-off double front roll to beat Adeuri and progress to the next round.

Jesse Richman kiteloop double halfcab

Half cab hero – Jesse Richman

Jesse then went up against Paul Serin who’d beaten him on day three in the single elimination mini-final. Paul was smooth, clean and playing a tactical game, but Jesse’s calculated (and maybe sometimes not-so calculated) ‘all-in’ approach was bearing fruit and, while he took some heavy crashes, he only needed three high scoring tricks to take the win. He did it – but only by 0.5 points! #tight

Paul Serin high handlepass GKA Air Games Cabarete

Paul Serin sending!

With a guaranteed podium position in the bag, Jesse’s relentless march up the table continued and next he beat Posito Martinez in what, from the beach, looked like one of the tightest heats of the entire event. Posito struck first with a massive boogie loop before Jesse stuck a huge board-off rotation and another double half cab. In the dying seconds, it looked like Posito might have been in with a serious shout when he stuck a lofty backside board-off handle-pass to toeside, but Jesse had already done enough by this stage and he would be taking on Carlos Mario in a bid for his second event win of the season.

Posito Martinez GKA Air Games Cabarete

Posito sprints up the beach for an equipment change – a key tactic that all of the competitors have employed this week to make sure they’re riding the right board or kite when going for big air or focusing on wakestyle tricks

Jesse began on his bigger kite and was putting it all on the line from the start, but Carlos opened with a faultless double heart attack before following up with a clean kite-loop nine scoring himself two tens in the process. Then he grabbed his strapped board and stuck a massive board-off triple front roll in the last minute, and before he and Jesse even left the water, it was pretty clear who’d clinched it.

Carlos Mario GKA Air Games Cabarete Winner

Carlos ‘The Machine’ Mario living up to his name!

Carlos was on fire on Saturday and this win underlines the point that he’s not just a new school freestyle fanatic. He went from landing cutting edge wakestyle moves to doing board-off triple frontrolls. He’s the full package!


Rita Arnaus kiteboarding at GKA Air Games Cabarete

Rita Arnaus airs

The women’s division was down to six riders by the start of Saturday and Valesa drew first blood by taking out Rita Arnaus in a closely contested heat (Rita went straight to the judges’ tower to check her scores – she knew it’d been close). Valesa then fell to single-eliminations third placer Pippa van Iersel, who’s consistently thrown some of the most powered passes we’ve seen in the women’s division at this event. Hannah Whiteley however stopped her climbing any higher up the ladder with some huge tweaked nosegrab front rolls backed up with super stylish big-air moves.

So, this meant it would be Hannah and Mikaili meeting once again in their third final of the year (including the single elimination from earlier in the week here in Cabarete).

Hannah Whiteley board-off GKA Kiteboarding Air Games Cabarete

Hannah Whiteley pulls out all the stops against Mikaili in the final

Hannah kicked things off with a sizeable ‘superwoman’ board-off, some massive grabbed rotations and a super-clean blind judge, but Mikaili was ready to respond and she stuck a big triple front roll which she followed up with a double front roll board-off to toeside and then a STOMPED slim chance to take the win.

Mikaili Sol GKA Kiteboarding Air Games Cabarete winner

13 year-old Mikaili Sol has now won two events from two, drawing obvious comparisons to a certain Gisela Pulido

Hannah and Mikaili have distinguished themselves at the top of the women’s division so far this season, but Mikaili seems to have an ability to find another gear when it comes to crucial heats like this one. She didn’t have a massive lead over Hannah in the double elimination final here, but she was smooth, consistent and she wasn’t making many mistakes. At this level that’s what it takes!




1: Carlos Mario (BRA)

2: Jesse Richman (USA)

3: Posito Martinez (DOM)

4: Paul Serin (FRA)

5: Nicolas Delmas (FRA)


1: Mikaili Sol (BRA)

2: Hannah Whitely (UK)

3: Pippa van Iersel (NL)

4: Pauline Valesa (FRA)

5: Osaia Reding Commaille (FRA)



1: Jesse Richman (USA)

2: Carlos Mario (BRA)

3: Posito Martinez (DOM)

4: Maxime Chabloz (FRA)

5: Nicolas Delmas (FRA)


1: Mikaili Sol (BRA)

2: Hannah Whitely (UK)

3: Pippa van Iersel (NL)

4: Pauline Valesa (FRA)

5: Osaia Reding Commaille (FRA) 

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