Shock exit of reigning world champion

Published 19th March 2023 by Ian MacKinnon


Cape Verdeans riding high as fight for title glory intensifies on stellar waves in Ponta Preta

GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Cape Verde 2023—Day Two

Reigning world champion James Carew was dumped from the GKA Kite-Surf World Cup on the second day of the contest on Cape Verde in epic waves.

The Australian, who had been hoping to land a third successive title, lost the final round of the day by only a fraction of a point to Cape Verde-based legend, Airton Cozzolino.

The victory of Cozzolino, an Italian who calls the island home, drew wild cheering from the delighted crowds on the beach. But the celebrations were muted as the judges reviewed their scores because the heat had been so tight.

Both riders, who have been training together, embraced as they came ashore. It was a sign of their mutual respect after a truly spectacular, 18-minute clash on epic Ponta Preta swells in the sinking sun.

The tense drama, with the pair separated only by 0.13 of a point in the end, was worthy of a final. Yet, Cozzolino only has the privilege of advancing to the competition’s quarter finals where other Cape Verdean locals lie in wait.

Other champions who train on the Ponta Preta break—Matchu Lopes and 2019 winner, Mitu Monteiro—had battled their way through the elimination heats in series of mouth-watering duels that drove scores ever-higher.

Day two of the world cup in Ponta Preta saw the women released for the day so that the race director could focus on the men, with the competition running until almost dark. The swell built to almost two metres, with the right-hand bombs landing on the reef metres from the beach.

The elimination heats had been studded with standout performances and hard-fought battles. Earlier in the day Cozzolino had narrowly survived against the stylish backside French rider, Clement Roseyro.

The Italian just took the win with a “buzzer beater”, scoring a wave right at the death that trumped Roseyro after he had led for the whole heat with big hacks and powered rail-to-rail turns.

“It was the best heat of my life, for sure,” said Roseyro. “Against Airton Cozzolino I almost made it. The turns were super-good. I hope one day they’re going to love ‘backside’ here.”

Cozzolino knew he had survived a tough battle. “Everyone ‘wants it’ when they come up against me,” he said. “They want to kill me. They want to be their best selves.”

Brazil’s Pedro Matos sent local favourite Hendrick Lopes home. Both riders threw down great performances. Matos’ score of 9.27 for one wave, one of the highest of the day, was enough to give him the edge. Lopes, battling before his fans, was in tears.

Another local hero, Matchu Lopes, had to pull out all the stops to beat Charly Martin, the young Reunion Islander who traded blows with the Spaniard. But a stunning 9.0 wave by Lopes was enough to end Martin’s dreams.

In front of home fans crowding the beach Cape Verde’s Mitu Monteiro launched his own assault. Two incredible wave scores took his heat total to 18.04. It was enough to end the run of his friend and countryman, Titik Lopes.

“It was so nice to be out there with Titik Lopes,” said Montiero. “I was just having so much fun. He’s such a good friend of mine. Everyone here supports me. It’s a bit of pressure, but I just do my best.”

Brazil’s Sebastian Ribeiro was ruthless in his heat against Yaris Dellomo (ITA). Two wave scores that took him to 16.80, put the Italian out of the competition.

The competition is set to move to the quarter finals stage for the men and women on Sunday, with hope of completing both finals. Stay tuned for all the action.

Event information

  • Location: Ponta Preta or Kite Beach
  • Dates: 17-27 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.

Words: Ian MacKinnon
Photos: Lukas K Stiller

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