Time to Crown the 2015 World Tour Champions
At five fantastic kitesurfing events of the 2015 season all athletes were fighting for the titles of the World Tour. Competitions took place in Freestyle, Slalom, Wave and the 2015 re-introduced Big Air discipline. This year riders also had the chance to fight for a new overall title. With outstanding performance the World’s top kiteboarders have shown their dedication, talent and perseverance to win the titles. After five events spread out across the globe it is our pleasure to announce the following Champions of the World Tour 2015:
Freestyle Men: Liam Whaley (ES) / Cabrinha
Freestyle Women: Gisela Pulido (ES) / Best
Big Air Men: Kevin Langeree (NL) / Naish
Big Air Women: Gisela Pulido (ES) / Best
Wave Men: Keahi de Aboitiz (AUS) / Cabrinha
Wave Women: Jalou Langeree (NL) / Naish
Slalom Men: Florian Gruber (GER) / Ozone
Slalom Women: Katja Roose (NL) / Airush
Overall Men: Aaron Hadlow (UK) / North
Overall Women: Gisela Pulido (ES) / Best
Liam Whaley had his eyes set on the crown since the start of the year. He had an extremely strong start in Dakhla, taking 1st place at the season opening. He managed to maintain this fantastic start by taking his second win in Venezuela shortly after. He certainly looked unstoppable at this point, but then sadly injured himself whilst training for the event hosted at his homespot, Tarifa, Spain. Liam took a few weeks out to rest and recover, and decided not to participate in the event in Fuerteventura, a decision which was certainly not easy for him. However his patience paid off, and he was able to compete in Germany through tough conditions and gain second place, just behind Aaron Hadlow. „This year has been crazy! A lot of ups and downs…all of the top riders back on tour and fit! My hardest event was definitely in Germany where I had just come back from a small knee injury.“ (Liam Whaley). Liam is delighted to gain his first World Tour title, and will certainly be ready next year to defend his crown.
Taking second place in the Men’s freestyle is the young and talented rider Carlos Mario. Appearing what seemed to be out of nowhere and bursting through each event with unbelievable energy and motivation, Carlos Mario has earned himself a well- deserved second place, even after starting the year with difficulty after injuring his shoulder and having to abandon the competition at the first event in Dakhla. He gained some ground in Venezuela during the second spot, but lost out in a low wind heat against Spanish rider, David Tonijuan, and finished 5th. However, in Tarifa he was able to show his worth, by dominating the event and gaining the 1st place podium finish. He matched this result in Fuerteventura by sharing a joint first place with 2014 World Champion Christophe Tack. Another podium result in Germany where he gained 3rd place has allowed him a fantastic 2nd place overall in the freestyle for 2015.
Since the start of the 2015 season, it became rapidly clear that there would be a fierce battle for the title between 2014 winner Karolina Winkowska, and multiple World Champion Gisela Pulido. Both girls fought hard through each event and at the end it was Gisela who won the 2015 crown by a fraction of 20 points.
Gisela commenced well at the start of the year, with a 2nd place in Dakhla, followed by a 3rd position at the event in Venezuela. The Spanish rider managed to reclaim her spot at the top after the event in her home spot of Tarifa, where she gained 2nd place in the freestyle, followed by another 2nd position in Fuerteventura. Her year ended successfully after she gained her first victory of the year battling through some extremely tough conditions at St. Peter Ording in Germany. Gisela rode consistently well throughout the season, managing a podium finish at every event, and this has earned her the return of her crown, with which she is no doubt delighted.
„I’m incredibly happy with my first place! I still can’t believe I won! It has been the title with more value to me and certainly the tightest I’ve ever competed in, where Karolina, Bruna and I were fighting for it. The female level of riding is very high and will be even more next season. This promises an exciting 2016!“ (Gisela Pulido)
Karolina Winkoska did not put up an easy fight, and the 2014 World Champion performed incredibly well this season. With an extremely high riding level amongst all the girls, she rode well at every event and only narrowly missed out on holding onto her title. Karolina had a brilliantly strong start to the 2015 season, taking the win at the first three events, Dakhla, Venezuela and Tarifa. It looked like she was unstoppable this year, but unfortunately she only managed to finish 5th place in both Fuerteventura and Germany, after struggling to maintain her strong performances at the previous event. This cost her the title, and put her in 2nd place for the 2015 freestyle results, coming in only 20 points behind Gisela.
Big Air Men:
2015 also saw the return of the Big Air to the World Tour. A chance to bring back this well -loved and visually spectacular division of kiteboarding. For the men, we saw a strong battle between former World Champion Kevin Langeree and New Zealand rider Marc Jacobs.
Kevin showed amazing control and technique at every Big Air competition that took place. He finished first in Dakhla, gained a second place in Venezuela and came back to the top of the podium in Tarifa with another first place finish. It was wonderful to see the return of Kevin to the World Tour, and no doubt that the combination of his experience, skills and motivation all contributed to securing his first place for the 2015 Big Air discipline.
Marc Jacobs, however, has been close behind him throughout, and also showed the world that he is not only a strong freestyle competitor, but also a very talented aerial rider who loves going high and pleasing the crowd, with powerful kite-loops in amazing height. Marc finished with a second place in Dakhla, came back with a very successful first place in Venezuela, and then dropped slightly to 5th in Tarifa. These good results gave him a well deserved 2nd place overall in the Big Air discipline for 2015.
„This year I didn’t have high expectations as I had just come out of my knee injury and didn’t want to re-injure myself…Big Air was a new discipline this year and I always enjoyed myself riding like this…I’m pretty happy with finishing 2nd overall… (Marc Jacobs)
Big Air Women:
On the Women’s side, Gisela Pulido dominated every single Big Air event during the 2015 season. She won each contest without ever losing a single heat and demonstrated her determination and talent, also showing that she is not only a pure freestyle rider. She was the only female competitor doing aerial handle- passes and powerful kite-loops, always pleasing the crowds at each event.
„It was amazing to be able to compete in the Big Air this season! It’s for sure the most fun discipline! It has been super exciting as well between all the girls, pushing the level to the max…“ (Gisela Pulido)
A newcomer to the tour for 2015 was UK rider Hannah Whiteley. Hannah showed great skills and consistent riding which allowed her to secure a second place in the Big Air discipline for 2015. A fantastic result for her first season!
The wave discipline for 2015 took place in Dakhla, Morocco, at the first event of the 2015 season. Keahi de Aboitiz once again demonstrated that he is the man to beat when it comes to kitesurf wave competition. He won the wave competition in Dakhla in amazing conditions. All the best wave riders in the world were present and ready to battle it out at the now well-known spot of Foum Lambouir. It was however Keahi, who demonstrated perfect riding on every single wave, who secured the title. He is a very complete rider, who rides with a lot of variety and skills when surfing.
„l’m so stoked to win. Dakhla is home to an amazing setup and I’ve always been able to put together good results there so far…” (Keahi de Aboitiz).
Taking second place in the Wave Riding discipline for 2015 is Pedro Henrique. This well known professional surfer and keen kitesurfer demonstrated that surfing and kitesurfing can be complimentary. His great experience in competition and his strong wave riding skills secured him the vice champion title for 2015.
It was Jalou Langeree who succeeded in gaining the Wave title on the Women’s side. Jalou was not in her comfort zone in Dakhla since she had to ride backside, she still managed a very strong performance. In a very tight final heat, she won against Moona Whyte who had been dominating in all her previous heats.
Moona was the defending World Champion and she demonstrated all her skills in Dakhla once again. It was all down to the final, where Jalou managed to score the better waves. Moona finished the year with a second place in the Wave Discipline for 2015.
The Slalom Discipline saw a return to the World Tour for 2015, a great discipline with many passionate racers made the event in St. Peter Ording, Germany, one which was visually spectacular and was enjoyed by a large audience on the beach.
For the Men, it was Florian Gruber, whose consistency throughout all the races gave him the lead and the title for racing discipline in 2015, with Olly Bridge taking second place behind him.
On the Women’s side, Katja Roose showed her experience, and managed to lead the way to the 2015 1st position! „Defending your number one position is always difficult as the pressure is on. So I’m super happy to win the World tour slalom this year again! Especially because it all came down the biggest event of the year in Germany, where competition is very strong and the circumstances challenging…Pretty proud to take home this title!“ (Katja Roose).
For the Overall title, it is multiple World Champion Aaron Hadlow who takes 1st place this year, due to the amazing performance he has shown throughout the whole season. He has demonstrated his skills and strong overall capabilities competing in almost all disciplines and demonstrating that he is the most accomplished rider. He finished 3rd overall in freestyle, winning the last event in Germany, finished 4th in Big Air and also demonstrated very strong slalom skills battling with his freestyle twin tip board against many of the top racers – even winning a few races – he finished 7th overall in Slalom.
Gisela Pulido, also a multiple World title holder, went in with no mercy for the overall title. She demonstrated her strong all-round talent and skills in kiteboarding. She loves competing in Big Air as it has been part of her career since the beginning. She also demonstrated that she knows how to handle a surf board in Dakhla finishing 5th overall. With her two first overall titles in Freestyle and Big Air competition there is no doubt that she is the greatest and a deserved overall Female Champion for 2015.
After a challenging season it have been these riders who fought through all the events and deserve their titles in respective disciplines. A big thank you to all the riders, supporters and industry partners for showing their support and professionalism during the 2015 season. We are greatly looking forward to sharing the 2016 with everyone with the same motivation and optimal level of riding that has been seen this year.
Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to everyone!