Cozzolino lands emotional win in Ponta Preta

Published 19th February 2024 by Ian MacKinnon


All-Cape Verdean final was dramatic climax to epic contest fought out in stellar conditions

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

Reigning world champion Airton Cozzolino opened the defence of his crown in dramatic  style when clinched the season opener in a firing Ponta Preta at the GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Cape Verde.

The Cape Verde-based Italian continued where he left off at the end of last season and dominated the final, slaying the huge sets and racking up a clutch of big scores that showed he is hungrier than ever for another world title.

“It’s not about the winning, it’s about the moment,” said Cozzolino, through the tears. “One single win feels like a world championship. Maybe it’s an even bigger emotion than being world champion. I’m so stoked. It’s pretty challenging here. I’ve been trying for so many years and to have it now is crazy. I don’t have words for this.”

The all-Cape Verdean final was a battle with Mitu Monteiro, who had dispatched many big names on his way to the deciding heat. But even though Monteiro could not quite match the power of his friend and rival, he was delighted to compete on home waters.

“I’m so stoked with my second place,” said Monteiro. “To have this final with Airton was really nice. All the people on the beach were screaming. There’s a lot of emotion going on. My mum was here. It’s the first time she’s watched me competing. It’s one of the best events I’ve had. A podium here at home is so cool.”

The third day of the competition, the opening stop of the Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour, finally delivered the some of the best swells seen in competition at the fabled right-hand break of Ponta Preta, on Sal island.

Crushed the faces

As the contest reached the business end of proceedings, the big hitters moved smoothly through the gears, barely skipping a beat as they crushed the double and triple head-high faces on their path to the quarter finals.

Brazil’s Sebastian Ribeiro was exceptional. He ended the run of one of the local organisers, Djo Silva, with a stunning performance that landed the highest wave of the competition—9.80 from a possible 10—and the biggest heat total of 19.33.

But then Ribeiro came up against his young compatriot Gabriel Benetton in the quarter final. Riding backhand, Benetton pulled off a big upset when he downed Ribeiro with his big vertical snaps.

Last year’s winner, Matchu Lopes, faced Mitu Monteiro, who at 41 only competes in Cape Verde. But Monteiro showed he still has what it takes and dispatched his young rival who admitted he did not have his best heat.

Pedro Matos also got the better of another Cape Verde-based athlete, Hendrick Lopes (SUI), with a a battery of high-scoring waves. Even Lopes’ barrel in the improving breeze was not enough.

But in the semi-final Matos met his match in Mitu Monteiro. Matos struggled to find good waves, while Monteiro chalked up big numbers that ended Matos’ run and booked the Cape Verdean a place in the final.

Equally clinical

Cozzolino was equally clinical in dispatching the other Brazilian, Gabriel Benetton. Riding backhand Benetton was no match for Cozzolino, who racked up an amazing 9.43 for one wave, even though he later broke his leash and had to get replacement board from the beach.

In the mini-final, the run-off for third and fourth places, the Brazilians Matos and Benetton slugged it out. In the end only 0.07 of a point separated the pair, but Matos got the better of the encounter.

The final between Cozzolino and Monteiro held out the prospect of a tight duel as both athletes know the break intimately. But Cozzolino just looked hungrier and attacked every wave ferociously.

Cozzolino’s two scoring waves earned 9.10 and 8.53, but his other discarded waves also involved and handful of 8-point plus waves that Monteiro did not seem to be able to answer.

On Day 4 the focus will shift back to the women, with the hope that the conditions allow the completion of the competition. Join us on the livestream for all the action.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Lukas K Stiller

GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Cape Verde 2024 results


1 Airton Cozzolino (ITA)
2 Mitu Monteiro (CPV)
3 Pedro Matos (BRA)
4 Gabriel Benetton (BRA)

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.

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
  • 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 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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