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2023 Kiteboarding Freestyle World Champions

Big comeback as Bruna Kajiya and Carlos Mario reclaim world titles to cap dramatic season

Visit Qatar GKA Freestyle Kite World Cup Finals Qatar
Fuwairit Kite Beach, 5-9 December, 2023

The culmination of the Visit Qatar GKA Freestyle Kite World Cup Qatar event at the stunning Fuwairit Kite Beach Resort saw the crowning of this year’s Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle Kite World Champions.

Brazilians Bruna Kajiya and Carlos Mario became the 2023 Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle Kite World Champions after a season-long display of sheer determination that helped them reclaim their crowns in dramatic style.

The former Freestyle world champions demonstrated their hunger to get back on top. The compatriots’ unwavering focus and outstanding performances throughout the season showed a level of skill that was truly unstoppable.

It is at least four years since the Brazilian duo topped the world championship podium. Kajiya landed her last world title in 2017, and Mario in 2018. Emotions were running high for both after each had to overcome big personal challenges to secure their comebacks. 

For Mario, taking home the Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle Kite Men’s World Champion 2023 trophy gave him a fifth world title that was tinged with relief and joy.

Emotions were palpable

Winning is everything that I wished for and this is so beautiful for me. My last win was in 2018 before I injured my knee, but I knew if I was patient and worked hard I would manage again to win a title. Winning as world champion again is proof to myself and others that you can come back 100 percent after an injury.” Carlos Mario

At 36, Kajiya is the tour veteran. She put her heart and soul into proving she had what it took this season to become the Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle Kite Women’s World Champion 2023, giving her a fourth world title. As the winners were announced, Kajiya’s emotions were palpable.

“It feels amazing and really something that I’ve been working hard at for so long and it finally came together. This year has been insane for me and everything I have worked for in the years previous has now been realised this year. I am really truly blessed to share this journey as I think it can inspire a lot of people. I had so many ups and downs and people saw me struggle, but then they saw me fight harder. I think my coming back means that it’s possible for everyone to achieve their dreams and get what they want. It’s really why I do this and I’m super proud to be standing here now.” Bruna Kajiya

Joint first for women

After five days of the event at Fuwairit Kite Beach, race director Rui Meira closed the competition window. Despite usually being a windy time of year, light breezes meant the final event of the season did not play out in full. 

Day one saw action in the women’s heats, although unfortunately the light conditions meant the contest was not concluded. Four women, Mikaili Sol (BRA), Bruna Kajiya, Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE) and Therese Taabbel (DEN), reached the final and shared joint first place. 

The men’s heats stayed on hold and the rankings remained unchanged. Despite the unusual lull in the wind, the athletes had the opportunity to discover more of Qatar. Find out their top attractions to see in Doha here.

Closing historic year 

The tour’s historic year was concluded in the beautiful Qatari setting with the closing ceremony at Fuwairit Kite Beach. Special guests Qatar Airways Group CEO Eng Badr Mohammed Al Meet and QT Chairman HE Saad Ali Al Kharji, joined CEO of the Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour Dr Jörgen Vogt, to award the trophies. 

As DJ Burak Yeter extended the good vibes into the sunset, spirits were high as the special season came to a close. Thanks were shared with the organisers, sponsors, media, and fans for supporting the Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour season, which boasted a record-breaking 10 events.

After such a thrilling year, the athletes are taking a few months off before diving into the 2024 season and you can check the calendar here. Follow the news for more exhilarating kiteboarding action and fierce competition ahead.

words: Caroline Morris
images: Svetlana Romantsova

Visit Qatar GKA Freestyle Kite World Cup Finals Qatar 2023 Women’s Results

Sharing first place with equal points:

1 Mikaili Sol (BRA)
1 Bruna Kajiya (BRA)
1 Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE)
1 Therese Taabbel (DEN)

Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle Kite Men’s World Champions 2023 

1 Carlos Mario (BRA)
2 Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA)
3 Maxime Chabloz (SUI)

Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle Kite Women’s World Champions 2023 

1 Bruna Kajiya (BRA) 
2 Mikaili Sol (BRA)
3 Claudia León (ESP)

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