Sunday 5th July
Words: Kate Chandler
This week on Meet the Team we are getting to know some of our freestyle judges. Passionate kitesurfers and former professional athletes themselves they know what it takes to compete on a world tour. They know their sport, they know every trick in the book and have a keen eye for scoring. Let us introduce Javier Santangelo, Alvaro Onieva and Victor Hays in this week’s episode of Meet the Team, and find out the latest news on the GKA Distance Battle too.
Javier Santangelo was born in San Isidro, Buenos Aires. He spent his youth sailing with friends and family at Club Nautico San Isidro (CNSI) and it was here his love for aquatic sorts was born. His first memories are of this club, where the Olympic champion Santiago Lane set high standards for the future, in the young watermans mind.
In 2006 Javier stumbled across a kitesurfing magazine and saw a picture of Martin Vari riding for RRD and knew instantly that he wanted to be a kitesurfer. He took the picture from the magazine and put it on his bedroom wall for inspiration. He started taking kitesurfing lessons and the kite bug took hold. In 2008 he headed to Tarifa with Lucas Palmer from Kite and Roll and by 2009 he was working as an IKO instructor and Center Manager for Soufaine Hamaini and then later at the Gisela Pulido Pro Center.
Javier then opened his kite school KSM Kiteboarding based out of both Argentina and Brazil. Brining groups from Argentina to the warm lagoons of northern Brazil to learn to kitesurf or for some specialised freestyle coaching. Javier’s first competition was in 2010 at the PKRA in Bariloche (Patagonia) and by 2013 he was crowned Argentina Freestyle Pro Champion.
His judging career also started in 2013 when judged for the PKRA in Barra Grande, Brazil. Since then Javier has been a judge for the Virgin Kitesurf World Championships, The WKL, the Spanish Strapless Tour, Red Bull King of the Air, the Freestyle Junior World Cup at St Pierre La Mer France, and he also MC’d at the KITEFEST Argentina with Jo Ciastula earlier this year.
It was his connection with our head judge Mallory de la Villemarque that brought Javier to the GKA Judges Team in 2018 as a Freestyle and Strapless judge, and he’s loved every minute of being part of such a close knit team ever since!
Victor Hays is one of the youngest judges on the world tour, who speaks mountains about his abilities and skills as an athlete. Here, in his own words, Victor lets us hear about how he got into kitesurfing and how he joined the GKA team.