THE WINNERS CROWNED IN CAPE VERDE
GKA Kite-Surf World Tour 2018: Round One
25th February 2018: Sal Island, Cape Verde
Report: Matt Pearce / Photos: Ydwer van der Heide
The competitors celebrate after a superb first event of 2018 / Image: Ydwer van der Heide
As the riders and the GKA crew prepare to head home it’s time to look back at what has been a stellar start to the 2018 GKA Kite-Surf World Tour.
Throughout January the event organisers, race officials and competitors had been salivating over the images and footage that were being circulated around social media of Ponta Preta going off and at least a few people had been (perhaps tentatively) gearing themselves up for a massive start to the season.
However, as the event drew closer the wind died down a little and the swell backed right off. In the last week before the event, many of the riders who’d travelled here early to practise found themselves looking at a totally flat Ponta Preta which is quite out of character at this time of year.
Then, on the morning of registration day with the wind already blowing, Ponta Preta began to show signs of life. Mitu and Djo Silva, the legendary local organisers of the event who have a deep knowledge of the conditions on the island, gave the riders and crew the heads up – the swell was fast approaching!
Arsenio Dias / Image: Ydwer van der Heide
From there on we had five epic days of competition that saw 38 men and 11 women doing battle at this iconic right hander and at another right, Secrets, further up the coast. Cape Verde delivered!
Airton stepped up his already formidable aerials at this event – a real challenge in offshore winds / Image: Ydwer van der Heide
Airton Cozzolino kicked off his season in front of a screaming home crowd in fine form by beating Keahi de Aboitiz in the men’s final – the first time he’s EVER beaten Keahi in any heat!
Speaking after Airton admitted that he couldn’t have asked for a better start. He didn’t win his 2017 title the way he would have liked to with a clean sweep at the final event and it’s clear that he intends the faultless performance he pulled out at this event to be the first of many.
Tight trails – Keahi de Aboitiz / Image: Ydwer van der Heide
His ensuing victory in the strapless freestyle expression session only underlined that Airton isn’t looking to make any mistakes in 2018. You can however be certain that a few riders, Keahi included, will be waiting ready to capitalise on any slip-ups that he does make along the way.
The defending female tour champion, Moona Whyte, had a similarly ideal start to her season at this event, beating Jalou Langeree in one of the tightest heats of the competition – the women’s final. There are some very complete riders in the women’s division but Moona and Jalou are a step above right now and it looks like we’re going to see a closely-run contest between these two at this year’s upcoming tour stops.
Moona in the semi-finals / Image: Ydwer van der Heide
Jalou adapted well to the new challenge of competing on her back hand / Image: Ydwer van der Heide
The next two events in Dakhla, Western Sahara, and Viana do Castelo in Portugal favour Moona as well as she’ll be riding at both of them on her front hand. A fire has been lit under Jalou though and she’ll be training hard to improve her backside riding on the run up to the next tour stop with her eyes firmly fixed on first place.
We also saw some other riders who are not entirely new to the GKA Kite-Surf World Tour, but who didn’t compete at all of last year’s events, open their accounts on the 2018 tour with stunning displays in the men’s division.
James Carew getting stuck in to one of the bigger sets on day two / Image: Ydwer van der Heide
Australian rider James Carew, who plans to follow the whole tour this year, brought his powerful surf-influenced frontside riding to the fore in every heat until he was finally knocked out of the running by Airton Cozzolino in round three. His North teammate Sebastian Ribeiro was even more impressive and he even took hometown hero Mitu Monteiro out of the event in the quarter-finals.
Sebastian slashing / Image: Ydwer van der Heide
Sebastian might have continued his upward surge unabated if he hadn’t also been brought to a halt by the unstoppable Airton but he was joined in the mini-final (where he secured third place at the GKA Cape Verde) by fellow Brazilian rider Pedro Matos who also had a fantastic event. Pedro even knocked Matchu Lopes out of this competition, another Cape Verdean favourite and former World Champion – one of the biggest upsets of the event!
Pedro charging / Image: Ydwer van der Heide
Of course some incredible performances were seen across the board but these were some standouts and it looks like there’s some impressive talent coming up in the ranks this year that’ll be nipping at the heels of the tour’s heavyweights when the next event begins in Dakhla, from the 24th-29th of April.
Check out the podiums below and head to our YouTube channel to catch up on some of the action highlights from the week.
1: Airton Cozzolino (CV / ITA)
2: Keahi de Aboitiz (AUS)
3: Sebastian Ribeiro (BRA)
1: Moona Whyte (USA)
2: Jalou Langeree (NED)
3: Ines Correia (POR)
1: Airton Cozzolino (CV / ITA)
2: Matchu Lopes (CV)
3: Camille Delannoy (FRA)
FULL RANKINGS AFTER ROUND ONE
Find the GKA Kite-Surf World Tour Rankings after round one here.
While the riders were in Cape Verde they did more than just compete! They visited a local school to talk to the children about their experiences in different parts of the world, the sport and competing. Watch that clip here.
They also took some of the children to the beach and helped coach them through their first session flying a kite! Watch that clip here.
Cape Verde is only the first stop on what’s sure to be an incredible 2018 tour. The riders will be back in action in April when the GKA tour rolls into Dakhla for stop two, before they visit another spot for the first time, Viana do Castelo in Portugal, for the third event.
Check the full dates below. It’s setting up to be a pretty special tour in 2018!
SAL / CAPE VERDE
17 – 25th February
DAKHLA / MOROCCO
24 – 29th April
VIANA DO CASTELO / PORTUGAL
07 – 12th June
TARIFA / SPAIN
27th June – 1st July
SOTAVENTO / SPAIN
20 – 25th July (TBC)
LE MORNE / MAURITIUS
06 – 16th September (TBC)
IRELAND AND BRAZIL