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    • By Martin Lark
      Erick Anderson and Paula Novotna claim the last Freestyle wins of the week as we now switch focus to the Kite-Surf event!
      Wednesday 9th October 2019
      Location: Dakhla, Morocco
      The Freestyle part of this double event at the GKA Kite World Cup Dakhla came to an end yesterday and today sees the start of the Kite-Surf event after the crew switched location last night. Westpoint Dakhla will be home until Sunday for this the penultimate round of the 2019 Kite-Surf competition with things really hotting up.
      Overall the Freestylers have enjoyed five out of five days of fantastic conditions on the lagoon in front of Dakhla Attitude. Conditions were epic and we saw some brilliant performances. Of course Valentin Rodriguez and Mikaili Sol won the main World Cup events at the weekend, but Monday saw a super session Game of K-I-T-E run and a Best Trick competition on Tuesday.
      Judging Criteria:  Best Trick
      Format: Taking in turns to do one trick each, riders had four attempts at any trick they wanted to throw, only their single best trick score counted. 
      Wind: 20 knots
      GKA Kite World Cup Dakhla 2019 | Day 5 | Best Trick

      1). Hailing from Cumbuco in Brazil, Erick Anderson is one of the best riders you’ll see from that kiting mecca. He doesn’t come to every tour stop, but he’s an incredible talent and will be relishing the tour coming to his home spot for the finals next month. He rightly took out the ‘Best Trick’ competition on Tuesday with a monster double heart attack 5

      2). Men's Best Trick podium: 1st Erick Anderson, 2nd Liam Whaley, 3rd Christophe Tack

      3). Paula Novotna is a veteran on the women’s Freestyle tour, but this year is lacing together some of the best performances we’ve ever seen from her. The Czech rider won the Fuerteventura event and here in Dakhla took top step on the podium for the women’s Best Trick competition, with a stunning double heart attack, scoring 9.37

      4). Women's Best Trick podium: 1st Paula Novotna, 2nd Pippa van Iersel, 3rd Helena Brochocka

      5). Liam Whaley proved his insatiable appetite for riding this week, finishing runner-up in the main event and also competing in both the extra events on Monday and Tuesday - winning the Game of K-I-T-E with Pippa van Iersel and narrowly missing out on the Best Trick win. He’s stylish, hardcore and inspirational

      6). Pippa van Iersel made up for her disappointment in being knocked out before the finals of the main event by putting in a brilliant performance with Liam Whaley to win the Game of K-I-T-E, landing a slim for the first time
      So, as we now move on to the Kite-Surf event, here are how the 2019 Freestyle rankings look with one more round to come in Brazil in conclusion of the Dakhla Freestyle event.

      7). The official Dakhla main event winners: Women: 1st Mikaili Sol, 2nd Bruna Kajiya, 3rd Paula Novotna / Men: 1st Valentin Rodriguez, 2nd Liam Whaley, 3rd Adeuri Corniel
      1 Adeuri Corniel - 8219 points 2 Valentin Rodriguez - 8186 3 Maxime Chabloz - 8103 4 Carlos Mario - 8070 5 Liam Whaley - 8070 6 Gianmaria Coccoluto - 8004 7 Nicolas Delmas - 7674 8 Arthur Guillebert - 6725 9 Louka Pitot - 7476 10 Stefan Spiessberger - 7361  
      1 Mikaili Sol - 6300 points 2 Bruna Kajiya - 6168 3 Paula Novotna - 6102 4 Pippa van Iersel - 6102 5 Rita Arnaus - 6036 6 Claudia Leon - 6036 7 Therese Taabbel - 5904 8 Nathalie Lambrecht - 5706 9 Francesca Bagnoli - 4068 10 Alexandra Torres - 3804  
      9 - 13TH OCTOBER
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      Words: Jim Gaunt
      Photos: Ydwer van der Heide
      Video: Oliver Umpierre
    • By Martin Lark
      After a challenging five hours of competition, Mikaili Sol emerged triumphant here at the GKA Kite World Cup Dakhla, ahead of her close competitor for the title, Bruna Kajiya, who finished in second (while Pippa van Iersel only made the semi-finals)
      Sunday 6th October 2019
      Location: Dakhla, Morocco
      Current discipline: Freestyle
      Judging Criteria: Pure freestyle (4 tricks from 4 different trick families count from 7 attempts. Riders take turns to perform one trick in a minute)
      Format: Women’s dingle elimination 
      Wind: 20+ knots for the early heats, ramped up to 25 – 30 for the semis and final
      Brazilians Sol and Kajiya laid down serious markers in round one – against the fleet, but also against each other. Both 3 x World Champions and both gunning for glory this year. Mikaili the current and back-to-back champion and marginal leader on this tour; while having come back from injury, Bruna has been getting cleaner and stronger all season.
      Once again we saw Mikaili Sol have a nervy semi-final en-route to the final, but this time Bruna did, too (unlike Mauritius). So this was a much anticipated final that also featured well deserved placings of Paula Novotna and Claudia Leon – a veteran who is riding as consistently as we’ve ever seen; and the season’s newest hotshot.

      1). Mikaili, staying low to get high points this time
      M Sol (BRA) / P Novotna (CZE) / B Kajiya (BRA) / C Leon (ESP)
      Conditions remained strong here, but perhaps just a bit steadier and somewhat lighter than the difficult semis. The women were still riding 6 and 7m kites.
      Once again, as we saw at the last event in Mauritius, after storming her first round and then delivering a below par performance to squeak through the semi-finals with just three scoring tricks, Mikaili Sol was seeded lowest for the final, which meant that she had the supposed disadvantage of taking her tricks first in rotation.
      However, as she managed to do in Mauritius, it was the solid side of Mikaili that came out of the blocks, and she started the heat with 8.23 points for a superb grabbed slim. She led from trick one and never looked back. Novotna was up next and couldn’t ride out of a fast 313 landing while Kajiya then missed an S1 attempt. Leon gritted her teeth and held on tightly to a hard backside 313 landing and got  good 6 point score.
      On her second trick, once again Mikaili threw her manoeuvre within the first ten seconds of her allowed minute, just yards from the beach. She’d obviously seen that the water was a bit flatter there, and somehow she seems to need virtually no trick set-up time to stabilise herself.

      2). Bruna Kajiya
      Bruna picked up a 5.67 for an s-bend to blind before a stunning slim chance gifted her the highest trick score of the heat with 8.77 points. She popped hard and travelled a great distance. Her kite remained perfectly parked in these windy conditions while she visibly strained to make the pass, held on with her fingertips as the kite pulled her forward with force and somehow she rode out the landing. That was a valiant move and proof of her freestyle stature – male or female. She looked relieved to grab the chicken-loop to release the pressure and hook back in. She was back within touching distance of Mikaili at the top.
      Bruna was barely back on the beach though before the younger Brazilian, Sol, turned the screw on the heat. A tidy backside 313 was followed by a backmobe 5 as good as any man would do; kite super low and body whipping round. Tough in these conditions and scored 7.87.

      3). Sent on a mission by coach Fabio

      4). Mikaili on the mission

      5). Mission complete. Everyone knows that with one more event to come, this was a crushing win
      As she was first in the rotation, Mikaili also took her final trick first and saved her best for last, just to drive home the win, with a big 315, scoring 8.5 points and powering her over the 30 point mark, to finish on 31.4.
      Bruna had looked the smoothest rider in the field at the start of the day, but as the wind picked up just couldn’t hang on to Mikaili’s coat tails in the finals. Bruna only successfully landed three scoring tricks, but regardless was still more than a full trick score behind Mikaili, so a perfect ten wouldn’t have changed the result by the end.
      Novotna won the battle for the final podium spot through her considerably greater experience than the young Spaniard Leon. Paula landed four tricks while Claudia only managed to stick two – although in reality she was super close to all those crashed scores on her heat card…
      So it’s a top two finish for the top two title contenders!

      6). Mikaili Sol, Bruna Kajiya, Paula Novotna, Claudia Leon
      1 Mikaili Sol (BRA): 31.4 points 2 Bruna Kajiya (BRA): 20.57 3 Paula Novotna (CZE): 20.4 4 Claudia Leon (ESP): 11.2  
      Elsewhere, Pippa van Iersel will be kicking herself particularly hard. She was joint second coming into this event alongside Bruna and had the opportunity to reach the final, needing to only land an easy, low scoring trick on her last attempt and crashed. Rita Arnaus and Therese Taabbel suffered similar fates. You may remember that Rita stormed to second place on the podium in Mauritius. She looked good early on today, but faded in the semi final.
      There’s just one event to go this season in Brazil next month and the pressure is telling!

      7). Pippa, slipped
      Mikaili moves further ahead while Bruna solidifies her position in second and Paula leapfrogs Pippa into third (they're now equal on points, so the position is worked out on countback results) ...
      Here are the standings with the best four results counting and two discards used (six events completed)
      1 Mikaili Sol - 6300 points 2 Bruna Kajiya - 6168 3 Paula Novotna - 6102 4 Pippa van Iersel - 6102 5 Rita Arnaus - 6036 6 Claudia Leon - 6036 7 Therese Taabbel - 5904 8 Nathalie Lambrecht - 5706 9 Francesca Bagnoli - 4068 10 Alexandra Torres - 3804  
      GKA Kite World Cup Dakhla 2019, Day Three, Women's Elimination
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      Words: Jim Gaunt
      Photos: Ydwer van der Heide 
      Video: Oliver Umpierre