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Dakhla event raises stakes in title face-off

Published 1st October 2023 by Ian MacKinnon

 

  • Pedro Matos’ victory keeps him in contention for crown on home waters

  • Women’s title race on knife-edge after Moona Whyte’s win in Morocco

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

The race for world titles shifted up a gear after the fourth stop at the GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Dakhla, Morocco, where victories for Pedro Matos and Moona Whyte narrowed the gaps among the leading contenders.

The Brazilian Matos’ first world cup win of his career in Dakhla keeps him third in the rankings, behind Cape Verdeans Airton Cozzolino (ITA) and Matchu Lopes (ESP), who top the standings.

Matos can land the crown if he wins on home waters at the concluding, fifth tour stop in Brazil, in November. But for Matos to get the world title, Cozzolino and Lopes, must finish in third place or worse behind him.

“I’m not thinking a lot about the world title,” said Matos, after winning in Dakhla. “I’m just thinking about getting a good result and if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. It’s not in my hands, but I’ll do my best. I’m really pleased with the win in Dakhla. Every time I think about it I get goose bumps. It’s unbelievable. It was my goal, one of my goals, on the GKA.”

Mixed fortunes

In Dakhla, the top seeds Cozzolino and Lopes, suffered mixed fortunes. A loss for Cozzolino in an opening heat saw the two clash earlier than expected. Cozzolino got the better of the duel and advanced. That left Lopes with his second successive ninth place finish, after he won the first two stops. That record maintained his second place in the rankings.

Cozzolino pushed all the way to semi-final, where he met Matos and came unstuck. Matos’ wave riding was just too strong and Cozzolino could not find the sets, with the result that he finished third in Dakhla.

The other semi-final was a tight battle between South Africa’s Matt Maxwell and France’s Clément Roseyro. Just over half a point separated the two at the end, though the Frenchman’s backside riding just won out to earn him his first final berth.

The final in the setting sun was brutally close, but Matos’ final few waves tipped the scoreboard in his favour. Roseyro was delighted with performance which has boosted his confidence and his desire to compete.

Not her strength

“The final was a super-close heat,” said Roseyro. “Now I know I can do something on my left and my right side. I felt in the final I was going for pleasure. Now I feel I need to go full on and train for the kite-surf discipline.”

On the women’s side, Moona Whyte’s victory in Dakhla gave her three event wins out of four which would appear to put her in the driving seat for the title. Her problem is that the final Kite-Surf stop in Brazil, in November, could be contested in pure wave, pure strapless-freestyle or a mixed format depending on the conditions.

But she opted to sit out the third stop in Sylt, Germany, because it was contested in the strapless-freestyle format, which she admits is not her strength compared to her wave riding. To take the title in Brazil she must finish third, or better, no matter what her biggest rival, Capucine Delannoy (FRA), achieves. Delannoy won the Germany stop.

Hopes to retain title

“We’re not sure what the conditions are going to be in Brazil, which is difficult to prepare for,” said Whyte. “I’m hoping that it’s going to be waves, as that’s what I excel at. At the very minimum I think it will be mixed strapless freestyle and waves. I’ll have to win a few heats to win the world title. But I’m definitely going to be going for it.”

Current Kite-Surf world champion Delannoy, 17, took second place in Dakhla and is looking forward to the decider in Brazil, still very much hoping she can retain her title.

“I was really happy with my performance in Dakhla,” said Delannoy. “I’m slowly improving my wave riding. We have one more event to go. I can still win the world title. So I’m going to go home [to Brazil] to train for this event and do the best I can.”

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Lukas K Stiller

2023 GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Dakhla results

Men
1 Pedro Matos (BRA)
2 Clément Roseyro (FRA)
3 Airton Cozzolino (ITA)
4 Matt Maxwell (RSA)

Women
1 Moona Whyte (USA)
2 Capucine Delannoy (FRA)
3 Zoe Bazile (FRA)
4 Camille Losserand (SUI)

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