Jesse Richman: he won the first Air Games event | Photo: Bromwich/GKA

Jesse Richman won the first-ever GKA Kiteboarding World Tour Air Games event, in Tarifa, Spain.

After the wind failed to appear in Leucate, the world's best big air kiteboarders were able to fly high in the skies of Europe's wind sports mecca.

The Air Games format requires athletes to complete tricks in three categories: big air (including board-offs), handle-passes and kite loops.

At a certain point, riders decide to get bigger kites and get kiteboards with foot straps rather than boots, to add extra excitement to the crowd on the beach.

Throughout the competition, Richman managed to combine technicality with a better gear set up in light wind conditions. He was flying higher than anyone else.

"There's some bit of spontaneity that happens in an event like this, especially in heats where I'm not used to riding a 14-meter kite," explains Richman.

"And it has a lot of lift, so when I get a big gust I stay up in the air for a little while, and I had a few handle passes where I could go for the double, but it's really hard without having a lot of whips on it. So, I was like: 'why not see how many times I could spin.'"

On the women's side, it was 13-year-old Mikaili Sol who stood out. The Brazilian beat experienced riders and proved she has a bright future in kiteboarding.

"It's amazing. I wasn't really expecting to win. I came here for fun, and see how I can place but, in the end, I thought I could win this. I'm so stoked!" added Sol.

"When I realized early on that the tricks I'd chosen for each category were scoring high, I stuck with those in each heat and just tried to go bigger and bigger with them. I did an S-mobe handle-pass, a double front board off and a boogie loop."

In the kitesurfing division, Airton Cozzolino and Carla Herrera Oria took the top honors.

2018 Jeep Tarifa Pro | Air Games

1. Jesse Richman (USA)
2. Maxime Chabloz (CHI)
3. Carlos Mario (BRA)
4. Posito Martinez (DOM)

1. Mikaili Sol (BRA)
2. Hannah Whiteley (GBR)
3. Pippa Van Iersel (NED)
4. Gina Bihn (GER)

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