A dream come true! Matchu Lopes
Team rider Matchu Lopes has just been crowned 2016 GKA Wave & Strapless Freestyle Rider of the Year following four fantastic stops. From Tarifa to Fuerteventura, Mauritius and Dakhla, his talent and sheer determination has never wavered. Having played a major part in revolutionising and influencing the whole style of wave and strapless freestyle, he admits that he's still having to pinch himself to check that it's not a dream
How did you feel going into the event in Dakhla?
My preparation for Dakhla was terrible if i'm honest. Right after the event in Mauritius I got really sick and I was on antibiotics. Thankfully I was in Spain and not Cape Verde as the quality of care in my country is not that great. When I started to feel a bit better I flew back home. I was planning to stay in Cape Verde for a few weeks; see my family, friends, get my energy back, ride in my favourite spots and prepare for the next stop. In theory it was a great plan, but the reality was that just after two days at home I had to fly to Dakar in Senegal so I could get into Morocco. It got me down that I had to travel to get a visa to enter another country on the African continent, but this is what I have to do if I want to live and travel like this.
After getting my visa sorted and returning home, I was lucky to catch some good wind and waves. But time was running out and it was time to leave to Morocco, so I took full advantage and rode from sunrise to sunset. I was knackered but it was worth it.
Arriving in Morocco I had a total nightmare trying to cross the boarder. The Police were making it really difficult for me, saying that my visa was fake and that I'd made it on my laptop. It was hard to get into the country and even harder to leave. The event was proving to be difficult to get to and the competition hadn't even started. I was hoping it would get easier.
How were the conditions?
Overall it was oK. The conditions came at the end of the holding period but improved once competition got underway. The wind was really light and it was testing even with an 11m. Thankfully the waves were really good so I was able to go for it.
How do you focus?
For me my main focus was flow. With no flow, nothing works for me! Before the heats I spend time assessing the conditions and watching the ocean. Listening to music helps me get amped. I also take some time to prep my gear, decide which kite and board i'm going to use. Being confident in my setup allows me to focus on the task in hand, especially if i'm up against someone with special skills.
What gear do you ride?
I ride the Neo as it's a top performer for wave riding. It's fast, has great drift and awesome feedback which is really important to me. The 5'11” Pro Surf board is my baby. I can push it as hard as I like and it keeps coming back for more.
What does it me to be crowned the GKA Wave & Strapless Freestyle Rider of the Year?
It’s a dream come true: for me and for my people home! It's a title that I'm really proud of and something that i'll never forget, especially after everything that I had to overcome to get it. I'm also sure that it will help me with my future goals and plans, particularly with potential sponsors. I still can't quite believe that i'm the champion as any one of us could have taken the title.
What plans have you got in the pipeline?
I’m doing lot of work with local TV and radio stations, as well as international kiteboarding media. It's been quite an intense run of competition riding so i'm looking forward to getting back to freeriding and learning new moves for the up-and-coming season. I'd also like to do a kite video, so you'll have to wait and see.