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Athletes throw down gauntlet in Dakhla

Published 26th September 2023 by Ian MacKinnon

 

Opening battles of penultimate wave stop in Morocco see some early surprises in near-perfect conditions

GKA Kite Surf World Cup Dakhla, Morocco
Oum Lamboiur, Westpoint
22 September—01 October, 2023

The first clashes at the GKA Kite-Surf World Cup in Dakhla, Morocco, dealt an early surprise when the top ranked athlete, Italy’s Airton Cozzolino, was beaten in his opening duel in the desert break.

But with his first round a non-elimination contest, the defeat by France’s Clément Roseyro, is unlikely to be anything more than a bump in the road for the Cozzolino, who sits in pole position for the world championship title.

Day four of the competition in Dakhla, a double header with the GWA Wingfoil World Tour, saw the men’s Kite-Surf contestants finally get their chance to take to the water to battle for glory at the Oum Lamboiur break on the edge of the Sahara desert.

Twenty-eight men and 12 women from 13 countries—including five Moroccans—have travelled from around the world to do battle in the remote location with its dramatically-stark backdrop.

The Dakhla stop is the fourth of five in the Kite-Surf discipline on the Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour, with the concluding call in Brazil in November when the world champions will be decided. This fourth stop will likely be contested in the pure-surfing format.

“Really exciting”

The opening day of hostilities enjoyed good peeling shoulder-high sets in the right-hand break, with 15 to 20 knots of cross-offshore breeze that allowed the men to showcase their remarkable surfing talent.

Isreal’s Ofek Shalgi is a debutant on the tour and was relishing the opportunity to learn from the world’s best kite-surf athletes, though in his second heat he came up against world number two, Matchu Lopes (ESP).

“It’s really exciting,” said Shalgi. “I’m having so much fun learning from the best kite-surfers in the world. That’s all anyone can really ask for. In the first session in Dakhla it was hard, but now I’m starting to feel the connection and the flow.”

Shalgi was defeated in round three by the Cape Verdean Lopes, but will get another chance to go again in round four. Lopes, riding backside in the right-hander, was his usual relaxed self.

“I’m just here to have a little bit of fun and do what the judges like—and hopefully get the title,” said Lopes. “I didn’t do any calculations about what it would take to get the title. I’m not that kind of guy. I just go to the heats and take them one by one. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.”

Brazilian big hitter

Local Moroccan hero Mohamed Ali Beqqali won his third round heat and goes straight to round five where he has his eye on the biggest prize after a good finish in the competition last year.

“I’m feeling really great,” said Beqqali. “I’ve been preparing for this for a long time. My first heat was a bit sketchy. With my coach, we decided we’d wait for the best sets, but nothing was coming. So I’m stoked to get through.”

One of the standout performances of the day was France’s Clément Roseyro’s 8.13 out of a possible 10 in his heat against Cozzolino. That helped the Frenchman to the win and means Cozzolino must fight for survival in round four.

But the Brazilian big hitter Sebastian Ribeiro was hands down the star of the show at the opening of the competition. He was charging the waves and his best two scored 8.0 and 8.3, marking him out as a contender for the win.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Lukas K Stiller

Event information

  • Location: Oum Lamboiur, Westpoint, Dakhla
  • Dates: 22 September—01 October
  • The official Race Notice and event schedule can be found here.
  • All event information here.

Find everything about GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Dakhla by clicking event news.

Liveticker will be updated throughout the day. Event highlight video will be published next morning. Written reports will be posted to the website at the end of the competition day.

Spot Info: Dakhla Westpoint
Dakhla Westpoint at the point where the hotel is situated. The town sits on the edge of the Sahara desert. North-westerly swells wrap around the point producing a long right-handed break with hollow sections that run into the sandy bay. The northerly breezes can be tricky under the point, but punchy and strong on the inside towards the beach. Westpoint is on the end of a long promontory at the head of Dakhla’s shallow, flatwater lagoon, which gets breezes of 20 to 30 knots nearly all year round.

Weather
Dakhla at the end of September/early October has a dry climate. The air temperature during day can be between 24°C the highest temperatures and lowest of 18°C. The water temperature of the sea is around 20°C, so bringing a wetsuit is recommended. Sunrise is approximately 08.00h and sunset is 20.00h.

Wind
North winds blow side offshore at Westpoint with 15 to 25 knots.

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