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GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Prea - Day 1

by Jim Gaunt 14 Nov 2019 04:40 PST 12-16 November 2019
Single elimination winner: Airton Cozzolino, 2nd James Carew, 3rd Camille Delannoy, 4th Mitu Monteiro - 2019 GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Prea day 1 © Svetlana Romantsova

Two ten points scores and a 9.57 helped propel the World Champion to the top step in an amazing afternoon at Prea. Once again the strong but clean winds at this spot in Brazil have helped deliver mind blowing strapless freestyle action and for the second year running we've seen new tricks landed in competition here.

The otherwise peaceful fishing village of Prea is once again delivering conditions that are inspiring ground-breaking performances from the world's best strapless freestyle riders.

Yesterday (Wednesday) was the first day of competition at the final round of the Kite-Surf discipline season on the GKA Kite World Tour. Airton Cozzolino blitzed his way through the rounds to claim the single elimination win against Australian charger, and current number three in the championship, James Carew.

If you think the fact that Airton has already done enough to win this year's World Championship would mean that he'd take his foot off the gas, you'd be wrong. If anything, when he's in flamboyant mood like this, with the chains off and riding in his favoured stronger wind conditions, he's even more impressive.

The Cape Verdean, who has now won three back-to-back GKA World Titles (as well as a KSP title in 2011), stormed through each heat yesterday, collecting two ten points scores, a 9.57 and a 9.23 along the way.

Never satisfied with just doing enough to get through, Airton doesn't care who he's riding against. His personal challenge is to put on a show and impress the judges every time he hits the water, which he did when he got two perfect scores; the second came in the final against James for the biggest 313 handle-pass we've ever seen him do, but it was the massive kite loop front roll (boogie loop) in the semi-final against Camille Delannoy that really set the event alight.

The boogie loop, invented by Ruben Lenten and polished by the likes of Aaron Hadlow and the world's elite extreme big air riders, brought about this reaction from Airton on the podium:

"It's not easy to do the boogie loop, I've been trying for years and I did it today for only the second time. Somehow I did it in competition! I've been watching Aaron and Ruben do them and I really wanted to do it strapless. Congrats to everyone today and I'm super stoked for this win, woo!"

Six hours later, pausing for breath only during a livestream beach interview with the final four riders ahead of the mini final and final, by 5pm the entire men's single elimination was done and dusted.

Standout performances weren't only limited to Airton. James Carew and Mitu Monteiro are locked in a battle for second and third in the season's final overall ranking. They met in the semi-final and the spoils of that war would give the winner at least a one or two heat advantage in the double elimination (possibly more if James won the singles and Mitu finished fourth).

Mitu had stolen the lead with just a minute to go before the Australian pulled out his most technical trick and, being one of only three riders currently landing the toeside front shuvit 3, was awarded 8.6 points and took the win, 35.1 to 28.3, for a five trick total.

A slightly new format at this event sees riders allowed to make only ten trick attempts in their heat with the best five tricks from different trick families counting towards their final heat score. It means that riders are more motivated to go for the tricks they know that they can land well (which makes for fewer crashes in the heat), but at the same time perhaps inhibits innovation... but clearly not for Airton.

Several times we saw less experienced riders 'tricked out', locking their scores after reaching ten attempts very quickly, leaving their opponent to calculate exactly what they needed to do to win.

The mini-final therefore looked tense and both Camille and Mitu weren't going as big as we'd seen previously. Hailing from France, but having lived here in Prea with his family for the last ten years, Camille won last year's single elimination but has suffered a poor run of form this year, largely due to several small injuries. He was however on fire here once again yesterday, twice landing a new innovation, a double front roll with a tick tack (board spin in his hands), which he again used to great effect to steal the mini final win from Mitu, who had looked anxious to not slip too far behind James in the double elimination.

Having finished fourth, Mitu will now have to battle through two extra heats in the double elimination to reach James for another match up in the semi-finals.

Elsewhere, Simon Joosten, completing his second year on tour, got the event off to an impressive start. The Barbadian executing some of his highly recognisable, fluid and impeccably stylish back roll kite loops. He eventually lost to James in the quarter finals, but is certainly one to watch in the doubles.

Canadian Reece Myerscough, fresh from his first ever podium at the last event in Dakhla, said he wasn't holding out a real hope of repeating that feat here in Brazil because the format is 100% strapless freestyle rather than waves. Nevertheless, his impressive improvement continued. Most notable is his ability to keep pulling out front shuvits in difficult choppy conditions, but also his mesmerising double back roll tick tack - which sees a real inverted body whip during his second rotation. Far more than twin-tip freestyle, strapless manoeuvres seem to give riders much more of a chance to put their own identifiable mark onto a trick.

Pedro Matos was looking super sharp again, but the young Brazilian, currently ranked fifth for the season, came unstuck in the quarter final against a resurgent Camille Delannoy. Pedro had been amongst the highest heat scorers of the day before that, so look out for him coming back in the doubles because his rate of trick learning is super quick, as he demonstrated with high scores in the toe-side, kite loop, tick tack and rodeo trick families.

Pedro is locked in a battle for fourth in the final rankings with tour veteran (a man who has competed on the GKA Tour since the very first event in 2016), Dominican Jan Marcos Riveras, who was another of Camille's victims, this time in round two. So that's advantage to Pedro who will have less to do than JMR in the doubles.

There are four more days to go and, as is the norm here in the north of Ceara state, the forecast looks set to continue. Like last year, we should therefore see riders get more and more confident and the intensity rise as we approach the business end of the double elimination later in the week.

If you missed the livestream, then make sure you either catch-up on the action here, or tune in for the rest of the week. The slow-motion replays of the high acrobatic journeys that the riders are going on in the solid winds here is a joy to watch... and often difficult to comprehend how such things are possible!

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