Big Up Airton!
That’s a wrap for the 2017 GKA Kite-Surf World Tour and it’s been an absolute blinder. 5 great events across the globe set the stage for some of the most creative and innovative riding we’ve ever seen. Over the course of the season the pioneers of this fast-growing discipline have truly raised the bar and progressed this side of the sport; it’s been a pleasure to watch.
Tarifa, Morocco, Fuerteventura, Germany and Mauritius have all offered a unique set of conditions that have put every competitor to the test on flat water, and in the waves. The stakes have been high and competition hot as scores have added up at each event.
The final tussle came in Mauritius at the world-famous wave of One Eye, and although Airton had already secured 1st place overall he was knocked out in the semi’s by team mate Sebastian Ribeiro. Seb was pipped to the post in the grand finale by Keahi de Aboitiz leaving him in 2nd place on the podium, but with the highest scoring wave in the heat. Jan Marcos Riveras has been solid and consistent all year on the tour but a close judges' call after his heat against Pedro Matos saw him exit the competition early on. Matchu won the mini-final with a better wave selection and a clean performance to 3rd place at the event and 2nd overall.
Following the flurry of excitement, we touch base with newly crowned champion Airton Cozzolino, as well as Matchu Lopes and Sebastian Ribeiro to get the down low.
Airton: Last year’s season wasn’t great for me but I learned from my mistakes and moved on. Since then I’ve worked really hard both on and off the water, dedicating my time to training for the 2017 World Tour. The beginning of this year was intense! My focus has always been on winning the World Title so my aim had to be making new moves consistent. In the end the hard work has payed off and I couldn’t be happier with my overall performance and of course the win!
I’ve been coming to Mauritius since 2011 so to me it feels like home. All the locals are really friendly and helpful. One Eye is one of the best waves in the world and really similar to my home break back in Cape Verde. I ride goofy, so it’s a dream! It’s also a top spot for training and incredible for an event like this. It has so much potential and I look forward to riding in this competition for many years to come.
My main discipline is wave and strapless freestyle, so this tour is perfect for me. The GKA has setup something that allows me to fulfil my dreams and I hope that they’re able to continue what they are doing into the future, as well as giving the opportunity to the next generation of riders to come up through the ranks.
I’m looking forward to the event in Cape Verde! We didn’t have the conditions to run it back in 2011 as it was scheduled during the off season. Now with the support and experience of the GKA, as well as their willingness to work with the local people, I’m sure it’s going be an amazing stop. I think everyone will be really surprised to see the high level of riding amongst the locals. It’s going to be good!
Matchu: After winning the 2016 Wave & Strapless Freestyle World Title in Morocco, I went to Cape Verde. Although I wasn’t really focusing on anything in particular, it was good to hang out and ride.
The first stop on the tour this year was in Tarifa. I didn’t really have many new moves on my trick list and I used the same tactics. I got lucky and made it through to the finals to claim 2nd place. In Morocco I was a little distracted and things didn’t really go my way. In Fuerteventura I was feeling much stronger psychologically and I had my friends and family there to support me. Germany, was a great event and I was riding better. I took the pressure off and tried to be a smooth as possible on the water.
The event here in Mauritius attracted 70 of the world’s best riders who all have a surfing background; this made it tricky to battle it out in the first rounds. I got lucky in the second round against Airton who seemed to be struggling with his motivation following his loss against Sebastian. I was really fired up though and really going for it, selecting the best waves and doing what the judges wanted. In general i’m stoked on my performance and I had so much fun! I’m really happy for Airton and his win, he really deserves it as he’s been working so hard. I respect that.
It’s my fourth time in Mauritius and I love it. As a goofy rider I get to face the wave and get a different perspective to what i’m used to in Cape Verde. It’s not an easy wave to understand and it’s fast. The conditions are often hard to read and can be variable. That said, One Eye is a surfers paradise!
We’ve never had a proper tour that has created so much hype about this style of riding. The GKA is really working hard and has made something pretty epic for the industry and us riders. We got the support of sponsors, amazing events, and local interest when we come to compete. It’s motivating to see people enjoy watching us ride and I can’t wait to carry on being part of it but for now, i’m focused on training for the next event, putting everything in the right place and hope to come out stronger than ever.
Sebastian: The event in Mauritius was awesome. It wasn’t easy as I had to come all the way through from the qualifiers through to the finals. I had some really tough heats and was stoked on my win against team mate Airton in the semi’s. One of my highlights in the events was in the finals against Keahi. It was us two going head-to-head on the incredible wave! It’s a once in a blue moon kind of thing.
I was a little disappointed with the result in the end. I was awarded the best score of the heat and my backup one was good, but not good enough. It’s a difficult one as they judge from the boat so there was no live scoring. I do wonder whether things might have been different had the live system been in place.
I think the crew that organised the event are doing a great job. There are good ideas brewing in the background so I think going into the future we will see lots of improvements. I finally feel like i’ve found my flow, with a good balance of focus and chill; something competition can disrupt. Now the tour is over, i’m in Tarifa at the dealers meeting testing all the new gear from North Kiteboarding. It’s epic!
Congratulations to our riders and the GKA organisation, it’s been an incredible 2017 tour and we’re looking forward to next year already.