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Battle for 2024 titles to open on iconic wave

Published 1st February 2024 by Ian MacKinnon

 

Kite-Surf world champions amped to begin defence of crowns at the season’s first tour stop in Cape Verde

GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Cape Verde 2024
16-25 February, Ponta Preta / Kite Beach, Sal

The epic battles for the Kite-Surf crown on the Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour are about to begin firing on the legendary waves of Cape Verde’s Sal island.

The globe-trotting tour’s 2024 season will likely open hostilities on Ponta Preta’s world-renowned righthand point break, returning after less-than 12 months for the first round of the Kite-Surf discipline.

The current world champions, Italy’s Airton Cozzolino and the US’s Moona Whyte, are set to journey to the South Atlantic islands for the first of five scheduled stops in the Kite-Surf discipline on four continents.

The 2023 Kite-Surf season marked a return to Cape Verde after a break of two years. It was also the start of a journey that saw both Cozzolino and Whyte regain their world titles after an absence from the podium of several years.

A total of 37 athletes—22 men and 15 women from 16 countries—are ready to battle for honours and glory during the 10-day competition window which will accommodate a double-header with the GWA Wingfoil World Tour.

Remarkable double

Whyte pulled off a remarkable double when she won the GWA Wave world title and became the Qatar Airways GKA Kite-Surf World Champion. But this season she has said Cape Verde—her favourite wave that has much in common with her native O’ahu—is likely to be her only stop.

I didn’t actually plan to do the whole tour last year,” said Whyte. “I started in Cabo Verde, which is always a super-fun event, and had really good waves. Then after winning that, I just kind of wanted to keep going. We ended up with a lot of good waves on the tour. I’ll do one event, but I’m not gonna do the whole tour this year.”

That may leave the door open for France’s Capucine Delannoy, 17, to regain her Kite-Surf crown. Delannoy got the better of Whyte at the final stop of 2023 in Cauípe, Brazil, in the mixed format Kite-Surf discipline.

Whyte’s three tour stop wins in the pure surfing Kite-Surf format were enough to land her the world title, her fourth, which came after a four-year break from the tour.

Other athletes, like Switzerland’s Camille Losserand, the Qatar Airways Big Air Kite Surfboard World Champion, and Brazil’s Kesiane Rodrigues will be keen to stake their claims to move up the order in the waves.

Single-minded focus

Men’s champion, Cape Verde-bred Airton Cozzolino, has a single-minded focus on holding on to the crown. After a year of ups and downs, he closed out the title with his first event win of the season at the final stop in Brazil.

“I’m feeling I’m at my strongest,” said Cozzolino. “Now, my mental state is there. I feel so calm. I got my motivation back. For anyone to win the world  championship, they’ll have to beat me. I won’t make it easy. I would love to win again because it might be my last one, you never know. Now that I’m at my strongest, I have to keep going. I feel more than ready to tell you the truth. I can’t wait for it.”

Fellow Cape Verdean, Matchu Lopes (ESP), will no doubt have other ideas. He won the first stop in Ponta Preta last year and beat Cozzolino in the monster final in Saquarema, Brazil, only to see his title bid come off the rails. It left him second overall.

Brazil’s Pedro Matos was another who made it difficult for Cozzolino to secure the title. Matos  won the penultimate tour stop in Dakhla, Morocco. It ensured the title race went down to the wire and earned Matos a third place overall.

One athlete that many of his rivals have missed is Australia’s James Carew. The two-time Kite-Surf world champion was injured in 2023 and had to step back from the Kite-Surf tour. He is almost fully recovered, but will miss the opening stop in Cape Verde before returning later in the season, ready to begin his campaign with four slated stops to run.

Undoubtedly the season opener in Cape Verde will be a thriller. Be sure to join us here for all the action.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Lukas K Stiller / Mintautas Grigas

Spot Info

The idyllic island of Sal is gearing up to host the second GWA Wingfoil World Cup, set to showcase the exhilarating Wave discipline. Against the stunning backdrop of this picturesque paradise, this eagerly-anticipated repeat stop will offer two potential event locations, with both Ponta Preta and Kite Beach in the mix, depending on the conditions.

Ponta Preta
For those seeking the ultimate wave-riding experience, look no further than the legendary Ponta Preta, in Cape Verde. This picturesque spot offers big, powerful, and glassy waves, accompanied by the most favourable cross-offshore winds. Considered a playground for expert-level riders, the waves can soar up to 6m high, making for an adrenaline-pumping experience like no other. While the beach is rocky in places, it’s also dotted with pockets of sand, making it an ideal location for side-offshore kitesurfing when the north-easterly winds kick in.

Kite Beach
As one of Sal’s most versatile kiting spots, Kite Beach welcomes riders of all levels with open arms. The beach’s consistent onshore and cross-onshore winds make it a top choice for kiteboarding enthusiasts, ensuring riders always have a smooth return to the sandy shoreline.

While it may be the busiest kitesurfing location on Sal, the vast 3kms stretch of sandy beach ensures ample space for both seasoned riders and kite schools alike, even during peak months. Those closer to the beach can expect a mild wind-blown chop and the occasional shore break, while further out on the reef, you’ll find waves perfect for shredding.

Wind
Cabo Verde offers fantastic wind conditions with consistent north-easterly Trade Winds blowing 15-25kts almost daily from November to June. The wind tends to be strong throughout the day, with the most powerful gusts occurring from 9am to 3pm. Kite Beach is the primary kitesurfing spot on Sal, as it faces east and provides less turbulent, onshore wind compared to other south or west facing locations.

The winter months offer pleasant temperatures of around 22ºC, and the water temperature is only slightly cooler. Most kiteboarders will find a 3/2mm shorty wetsuit suitable for full-day kiting sessions, while board shorts may enough on warmer days later in the season. Regardless of the time of year, it’s essential to apply sunscreen.

Wind directions include NNE, NE, and E, and the windiest months are November, December, January, February, March, April, and June.

Event information

  • Location: Ponta Preta / Kite Beach
  • Dates: 16-25 March
  • The official Race Notice and event schedule can be found here.
  • All event information is here.

Here’s how to stay up-to-date with all the event happenings

  • Follow all action on live event page: livestream, liveticker, live scoring.
  • Follow our Instagram and our new TikTok account for behind-the-scenes action and event updates.
  • Subscribe to our newsletter for end of day reporting
  • Check out our youtube channel for daily highlight video.

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 each competition day.

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