Every move you make – Judges with an eye for detail – Sail World

by Kate Chandler 1 Jun 07:56 PDT

Tanja Rosenkranz © Ydwer van der Heide

Find out how you end up judging the best athletes in the world and what our judges have been up to during lockdown. We’d like to introduce you to Fadi Issa, Rui Meira and Tanja Rosenkranz, the first female judge on the GKA World Tour.

Tanja started her kiting adventures in 2005 and competed on the local scene in Germany, as well as in Europe from 2008-2013. During this time she was also German Snowkite Champion. In 2007 she moved to Tarifa chasing the wind and warmer conditions, where in 2010 she opened Free Your Mind watersports center.

In 2018 she met the GKA team in Dakhla and joined the Tour as the first female judge. She felt at home straight away with so many familiar faces from the Tarifa kite scene. As the only female judge on the world tour there is some pressure to do a great job and also promote kitesurfing to other women worldwide. Seeing the riders’ level improve greatly over recent years has brought a huge boost in numbers of female competitors and kiters worldwide, which Tanja is extremely happy to see happen.

Besides running her watersports business in Tarifa, Tanja is also involved in a new kite hotel project in Sri Lanka which should have been opened this season. Unfortunately due to the worldwide pandemic, things are on hold for now in Sri Lanka, Tanja included. She is currently locked down in paradise filling her days with work, planning a soon to be released functional movement series for kiters, and plenty of surfing, but she is looking forward to getting back to Tarifa once the borders are open again.

Tanja balances the kite-entrepreneur and digital nomad life with motherhood, she has a six year old son, Tay, who is already surfing and learning to kite, he has even been sponsored by Flysurfer! She has been living the digital nomad dream life, travelling the world since 2007 and living in places like Egypt, Brazil, Zanzibar, Sri Lanka and Morocco. Follow Tanja’s adventures here.

Rui was born and raised in Portugal, around Lisbon in a small village by a lagoon called “Lagoa de Albufeira” where his family had been living for the past four generations, and where his father became a Portuguese windsurf champion during the 80’s which lead their home spot to become one of the most popular wind sports destinations in Portugal

Rui grew up “doing a bunch of sports but the wind and water became the main thing when kitesurfing came about in 1998 and we got our hands on the first Wipika kites”. From there on kitesurfing was the main sport in his life, and in 2003 he became the first European Junior Champion in France.

Thanks to the support of Naish Kiteboarding and the Spain/Portugal distributors the next years of his life were spent competing professionally, until it was time to head back to college to study for a business management degree.

In 2011 Rui started judging kiteboarding professionally. During that time he was also involved in kite product development, while also taking a more significant role full time managing the family business: the Meira Pro Center.

From the beginning of the GKA Kite World Tour Rui has been taking part as a Wave, Strapless Freestyle and Twintip Freestyle judge, while expanding his family’s watersport center to include all the board sports he loves.

He feels incredibly lucky to have a waterman father that always pushed him, and provided all the equipment to do what he loves until this day. Rui is “basically addicted to water and waves and any other type of adventures on the hills and mountains with or without two wheels”.

Fadi is a true wanderer of the world: A Lebanese born in Liberia, West Africa, he and his family fled the civil war in Liberia to Central California when he was just 12 years old. As a teenager he got into surfing and windsurfing as a way to escape the valley, and having lived the beach life as a small child, to find his comfort zone.

In 1989 Fadi moved to Maui where he worked various positions in retail and R & D for surfing and windsurfing companies and sports brands. It was in 1997 when Bruno Legaignoux arrived on the island with his first kite that Fadi managed to get his hands on kitesurfing equipment. He had a solid crew to learn with at Kite Beach in Maui and soon enough he was hooked. Fade began competing on the professional kiteboarding circuit, seeing it as a great opportunity to travel and see the world. Being part of the first Wipika pro team and competing at KWPT events and some of the early Red Bull events in Tarifa, Fadi quickly became known in the kite industry and he has always found it to be an extremely welcoming and supportive one to be part of.

After competing at an event at Sotavento, Fuerteventura, Fadi decided to make the move to the island. He loved the quiet desert life after the bustle of Hawaii. He stopped competing but still travelled to make videos and shoot for brands and magazines. He swapped his boots and twintip for a surfboard and was regularly asked the question “why don’t you get some straps for that” while he continued to ride and destroy surfboards.

During this time he started to build his dream sustainable eco home in the desert in Majanicho, one of the best stretches of beaches in the Canaries. He has two gorgeous daughters Lalia, 9 and Sunny, 4 and this is the perfect place for them to grow up with a connection to nature and the ocean. Fadi has every reason to be proud of this beautiful family haven!

His judging career started at local events in Fuerteventura where he judged many young riders who are now GKA judges and team members themselves, Alvaro, Rui, Mallory, Cesar and Jo. It was at the first GKA Kite Surf event in Tarifa that Jaime approached him about working with the GKA and he has been part of the team ever since.

“Being a GKA judge is a great experience, it’s nice to work and travel with people who I have a long history with. We all know each other quite well and that translates into a good working environment, and as this sport is always evolving, so are we in trying to make the tour (and judging in general) as successful as possible. As this sport grows and changes, it’s amazing to watch the development and evolution of all the disciplines and to see fresh new faces getting involved in this once “misfit” sport that I was involved in years ago.”

Fadi coaches and acts as a guide on Fuerteventura should you like to get in touch with him.