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Airton Completes Incredible 8 Heat Comeback to Win Dakhla!

Current discipline: Kite-Surf  – Men’s Finals 
Judging Criteria:  One freestyle trick (6 attempts) and two waves counting
Format:
Double elimination final stages, 25 minute heats 
Wind: Around 15-18 knots
Waves: Small set waves, but holding up and allowing for plenty of hits  

Sunday 13th October
Report: Jim Gaunt
Photos: Ydwer van der Heide 
Videos: Oliver Umpierre 

AIRTON: FIGHTING FIT

After losing in the single elimination quarter finals against Canadian Reece Myerscough, Airton Cozzolino began a big fight back yesterday, going on to win five back to back heats as he charged up the leaderboard beyond the riders who had finished higher than him in the single elimination. 

By the close of play on Saturday he’d reached the semi finals and was looking at a re-match against Reece, scheduled for Sunday morning. 

That went ahead in very difficult lighter wind conditions and with just a small shorebreak opportunity for waves. Reece gave him another close fight and as the wind was light, the judges called this a pure wave battle. Both riders braved the swells very close in to the beach, often ending up making their last turns over the sand such was their desire to win. Airton clinched it with a best two wave score of 11.03 to Reece’s 10.53. 

The wind then swang more offshore and what waves there had been dropped away with the high tide. The contest went on hold for three hours. 

Come 4pm, things were looking more promising and eventually at 5.20pm the final between single elimination winner Mitu Monteiro and Airton Cozzolino was on. These weren’t the dream conditions for the tour, but the freestyle and wave combination format is what the future of strapless riding is about sometimes World Championships are wrestled out in a dog fight.

What isn’t in doubt is that the vision and ability of these riders really can inspire us to look at our own ordinary conditions very differently. 

Catch up with the livestream action here and scroll down for the liveticker heat notes lower down on this page. 

The official closing ceremony is now running this evening, with all the official results, photos and highlight videos coming tomorrow. 

 

Airton: “I have no words, I was pretty nervous but I just went for it and I’m so stoked. Big thanks to my friends and everyone online who supported me, to my trainer and also my caddy for the day Francesco Cappuzzo! Amazing. Yes!”

Mitu: “Against Airton you never know what he’s going to do. It a shame we didn’t get bigger waves, but it’s always fun to ride with him on the water. So I’m happy and now I look forward to Brazil.”

LIVETICKER HEAT NOTES AS IT HAPPENED: 

17.47 – FINAL: MITU MONTEIRO (CV) V AIRTON COZZOLINO (CV)
Once again, as Mitu won the single elimination, he must be beaten twice if Airton wants to claim the event win.

Conditions this morning remained marginal with very small waves for long periods and then the wind swang offshore at hightide, so the contest went on hold from around midday until the start of this heat at 17.20. A great decision!

Both riders got into wave action within the first two minutes. Airton looks incredibly hungry, managing six hits on one wave, such is the intensity of his riding and how he can manage to pack in a succession of tight turns – pure surf style.

Mitu also got a pretty good wave – not as good, Airton 6.43 for his and 4.93 for Mitu.

Definitely some more sections than we saw this morning at the lower tide… 

Mitu managed to land a butt checked front roll shuvit, getting 4.67 – not a very clean landing, but a very technical trick. Airton crashed a back roll tictac, so five minutes in and Mitu had a small advantage, but Airton yet to land a freestyle trick.

Airton’s two opening waves of 6.43 and 5.77 were very healthy, with Mitu’s two waves only 4.93 and 4.07 – not just due to getting lucky with wave choice and how the waves shaped up but Airton really murdered them once he decided to go down the line.

Way out the back Airton finally got his trusty back roll tic-tac on the scoreboard. Not the biggest, but very important to register a score in the first place. He got 6.33 points – and a great upper hand the fact that Airton has those in his pocket, almost on lock down and able to get very challenging scores from them.

Conditions may be minimal, but both riders in the meeting with the crew said ‘let’s just do it’ – they’re both always so keen to ride and compete, and remember if the heat didn’t run Mitu would win as the single elimination win… so credit to him for always being positive. 

Mitu went to work on a little section, bam, bam, bam constant turning and with a wave 360 in the middle, great effort… gets a 7.33

Airton had a few waves back to back, but not breaking much above the 5 point score, so no change in wave scores.

Airton took off a kicker and landed a big back roll tic-tac to switch, should be another big score (it was: 7.27!). He landed and turned straight into a beautiful face… 3 turns, big hits.

Mitu tucked into another clean wave – the conditions far better than this morning – another few hits and another wave 360! The scoreboard had some catching up to do!

Airton looked to have a very narrow lead – would this go into another heat?

Both riders made mincemeat of some small sections on the inside towards the end of the heat, filled with hacks, fins out and airs…

Heat over. This was going to be close as the final scores hadn’t shown up on the livescore…

AIRTON WINS 20.37 to 17.43 – SO WE’LL GO ONE MORE TIME!

18.33 – SUPER FINAL: Mitu Monteiro V Airton Cozzolino (forced because Airton won the last heat and Mitu had to be beaten twice as the single elimination winner).

Great opening wave for Airton on what was in reality a small wave, completing five turns and then a popped 180 off the lip that he then completed into a 360. Very nice. 7 points. Big.

Mitu pulled in on the next wave and although he had less turns, he destroyed the last section. 4.87.

Airton was quickly into his second wave getting 5.67 to total 12.67 off just two waves. Strong.

Mitu made a beautiful air and somehow rode out of it in the white water, going on to manage a couple more hits. The reward a 6.07.

No wave was wasted as the set rolled in with some pretty good lines backed up. Mitu looked to be linking the sections for longer this heat, looping the kite at the start of his ride then smashing sections with multiple airs.

Airton made another good wave 360 on one wave and then what did he do on the way out? Picked a vertical kicker and landed a big, punted unhooked backside 3 – 9.17 points… it was almost perfect and couldn’t have been done better in wakeboard boots. Is that the killer blow? He was way out front on a massive 22.97 points, with Mitu yet to register a freestyle move on 12 points; that almost ten point freestyle trick making all the difference.

What a repertoire Airton has put into this heat already with 12 minutes still to go.

If anyone can come back though it’s Mitu… he just wasn’t managing to find the bigger faces that were a bit more downwind, but nevertheless was working the waves for all their worth. This heat, like the first, was action packed with these riders turning very average conditions into an exciting spectacle.

Mitu finally went for a trick out the back but missed it. He needed to get a good freestyle score pretty quickly and then hope for a good swell near the end of the heat.

Indeed a set came in, Airton was already on the second wave of the set as Mitu charged out to try to get the one behind. Airton cut a big spray, tail loose, big hack and let the tail drift 180.

Mitu again with a big air in the midst of a succession of very stylish hits. These boys are so inspiring to watch and it blows the mind to think what they’re doing with their kites as well as their boards to maintain such speed and flow. Mitu got an 8.3 for that wave – incredible. He was now within reach but with seven minutes to go needed to get busy with his freestyle attempts.

But yet again they went for waves, knowing that two high wave scores are very important compared to one freestyle score, but really Mitu needed to surely start going for freestyle, especially as Airton was now free to just go for waves – seemingly practicing his air 360 in the wave!

Finally Mitu had a front roll on the scoreboard – but it earned just 2.53. The scores were 24.17 to 17.45 in Airton’s favour. Mitu’s better wave riding had brought him to within around 8 points.

He came in on the inside, not looking for a kicker, working off the flats… he unhooked and landed a pop to blind and span 360 out… that’s a very good trick and Mitu has only recently been making unhooked tricks in the last year… it was clean but not as good as Airton’s. He got 6.16…

The score: 24.17 to 21.1. What more could Mitu do? Three minutes left…

Mitu found a set wave in the closing moments – could he improve on his lowest wave score of 6.63? He managed just three turns unfortunately and turned off the back… 50 seconds left.

Airton was heading in on another wave… but suddenly downwind and into the sunlight Mitu completed a neat backside 3!

Both riders did all they could and yet again have gifted us with an amazing show. What a joy they both are to watch and real all-round surfboard athletes. Airton’s two best wave rides were a 7 and 8 and of course his backside 3 had scored 9.17 giving him 24.76.

Mitu’s two best waves were worth 6.63 and 8.3 and then that unhooked backside 3 off the flats right at the end… got 7.83. So Airton had done it. One of the best comebacks we’ve ever seen, completing his eight heat comeback through the double elimination and beating Mitu Monteiro TWICE!

AIRTON WINS THE EVENT: 24.17 to 22.76

 

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