THE OFF-WATER MOMENTS FROM FOUM EL BOUIR THAT TELL THE STORY
29th April 2018: Dakhla, Morocco
Report: Matt Pearce / Photos: Ydwer van der Heide
Yesterday’s final day of competition was an intense finale to a full-on few days of competition. Tension and emotions were running high for many of the riders by the time it came to the double eliminations. For some, the challenge would be defending their already solid results from the single eliminations and, for others, the pressure was on for them to make a push back up the ladder in an all-or-nothing dash for a podium finish.
Here are some of the key moments that you won’t have seen in the daily highlight video!
The looks on the riders’ faces say it all. Sebastian Ribeiro, Paulino Pereira and Pedro Matos had their sites set on a comeback after failing to progress to the final rounds of the single eliminations, Marie Gautron knew that her fourth place tour ranking hung in the balance and the pressure was on for Matchu Lopes who needed a good result here in Dakhla to make up for an early exit back in February at the GKA Cape Verde.
And of course, there was only one rider on Keahi’s mind – Airton.
THE WAITING GAME
The wind’s been relentless all week since the main event kicked off at Foum El Bouir but the swell kept us guessing all the way and the race team was committed to waiting until conditions were right before starting the heats rolling on the final day. That meant the competitors nerves would be stretched even further as they waited for the heats sequence to begin. The suspense was palpable and Jalou was so nervous she couldn’t even eat as she waited for kick-off.
OLIVIA JENKINS GETS IN THE MIX
Olivia Jenkins made her GKA KSWT debut at this event. In fact, it was her first ever competition! However, she managed to unseat two strong competitors – Marie Gautron and Kirsty Jones – and continued her push up the elimination ladder until finally being knocked out of the running by Carla Herrera Oria. If she’d beaten her then she’d have been in for a podium finish. How epic a result would that have been in her first ever comp?
MARIE GAUTRON MARCHES ON
Marie Gautron didn’t manage to maintain her overall fourth place at this event, a spot now occupied by Carla Herrera Oria, but her tenacity was something else. She had some standout waves in the single eliminations and made it as far as the quarter-finals on the last day before a tight heat against Olivia Jenkins didn’t go her way and she was knocked out of the running.
TOUGH CALLS IN THE JUDGES TENT
We witnessed a GKA KSWT first at this event – a draw on points between Sebastian Ribeiro and Matchu Lopes! Both riders scored 13.3 when they met in the closing stages of the double eliminations but the heat was awarded to Sebastian as most of his points came from wave riding (the judging criteria was 60% waves / 40% strapless freestyle in the finals) and tour rules state that, in this situation, the heat will go to the rider who focused on the dominant point scoring category which was waves.
GKA judge Mallory de la Villemarque explained that the chances of this happening are beyond slim. Riders individual scores are tallied up, multiplied by a factor and then the resulting figure is multiplied by another factor to come to a final score but the numbers didn’t lie and the rules don’t bend.
Matchu was out, Sebastian was through.
JAN MARCOS RIVERAS ASSAULTS THE DOUBLE ELIMINATION LADDER
Jan Marcos Riveras rode like a man possessed in the double eliminations. He didn’t quite gather steam in the singles, but in the doubles his competitive fire was lit and he rode with a zeal the like of which we haven’t seen from him so far this year. On the final day, after having battled up the table heat by heat the day before when the double eliminations kicked off, he took out young gun James Carew and Paulino Pereira before finally succumbing to Sebastian Ribeiro in one of the tightest heats of the day. He finished this event in fifth which significantly improves his overall 2018 ranking. He’ll be stoked with that going into the next event in Portugal!
INES CORREIA SOLIDIFIES HER GRIP ON THIRD PLACE OVERALL
At this event, Ines Correia took on all comers who might have challenged her for her third place position on this year’s tour. She took third in the single eliminations on day one and she might have taken Moona’s spot in the doubles final too had Moona not nabbed a solid wave in the dying minutes to keep her ahead on points. One thing’s clear though, Ines isn’t stopping for anyone this year and, when asked about her goals for the 2018 she replied simply – to beat Moona and Jalou!
CARLA SETS THE STANDARD IN STRAPLESS FREESTYLE
Carla is leading the way in women’s strapless freestyle and has been ever since she burst onto the 2017 GKA Kite-Surf World Tour with a powerful display at the Tarifa Strapless Pro. At that event, she competed against the men and was a top qualifier in the trials and then she even gave Paulino Pereira a run for his money when they met in the main event.
While some of the other women who’ve now joined the tour were slow to adopt the strapless freestyle discipline, Carla has been pushing it for a couple of years now and is by far and away the most accomplished in her division. At this event, it became clear to her fellow competitors that they’re going to need to step their game up in this area if they want to be competitive on the 2018 KSWT and Carla, whose wave riding is also strong, is currently leading the pack!
JALOU HAS TO GO IT AGAIN
Jalou didn’t have an easy path to her first GKA event victory here in Dakhla. She won the singles, so was automatically in the double elimination, and that meant she wouldn’t have to compete until the final heat (a good and bad thing as far as a competitor’s nerves are concerned) but it looked like Moona was about to snatch her first event win from her at the last moment when she beat her in the final – and on Jalou’s birthday no less!
However, in the double elimination format the final will be rerun if the winner of the single eliminations gets beaten and so Jalou had a second chance. She dusted herself off, re-fastened her harness, and went out and took the win in challenging conditions and on her backhand too!
This means she and Moona are now level on points and we can expect to see an ongoing battle between them both this season.
AIRTON MAKES IT TWO FROM TWO ON THE KSWT 2018
Airton’s season just keeps getting better this year and, at this event, he added his second win of the year to his 2018 tally which increases his lead over Keahi de Aboitiz. This was the moment he found out he’d won it. There was no announcement on a podium and no fanfare, but when no call came for a second run at the final after his heat against Keahi it was clear he’d done enough. His response in this shot says it all.
Want more? Read yesterday’s full report and check out the highlights video here.
GKA CHAMPIONSHIP TOP FIVES
1: Airton Cozzolino – CV – 4200 pts
2: Keahi de Aboitiz – AUS – 4134 pts
3: Sebastian Ribeiro – CV – 4035 pts
4: Mitu Monteiro – CV – 4002 pts
5: Jan Marcos Riveras – DR / ESP – 3903 pts
1: Jalou Langeree – NL – 4167 pts
2: Moona Whyte – USA – 4167 pts
3: Ines Correia – PT – 4068 pts
4: Carla Herrera Oria – ESP – 3969 pts
5: Marie Gautron – FRA – 3936 pts
FIND THE FULL CURRENT CHAMPIONSHIP RANKINGS HERE
SEE THE FULL GKA KITE-SURF WORLD TOUR 2018 SCHEDULE HERE