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Winners crowned in Dakhla to cap epic event

Published 28th September 2023 by Ian MacKinnon

 

  • Brazil’s Pedro Matos lands first event victory in stellar final in Morocco

  • Moona Whyte untouchable as she wins third Kite-Surf event of season

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

Brazil’s Pedro Matos landed his first event victory at the GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Dakhla, Morocco, after a tense final that he won by the finest of margins at dusk.

The young athlete charged through his heats earning some of the highest wave scores in the competition as he dispatched some of the biggest names to take home the prize—realising his dream.

“I know my whole family is watching and I have no words,” said Matos. “I can’t really believe this is happening. But my family knows how much I wanted this. I was, like, ‘I’m going to win this first event. My god.’ Everything came together and it was a dream come true being here.”

The US’s Moona Whyte was a class apart, chalking up the highest scores of the whole competition, to take the win in Dakhla. It was her second victory in a few days after she won in the double-header event, the GWA Wingfoil World Cup Dakhla, which ran simultaneously.

“It was so much fun out there,” said Whyte, moments after she came ashore. “The waves were firing and the wind was strong. Super-long rides. It’s crazy to win both disciplines. I can’t really believe it happened. I’m so happy right now. Honestly, I was focused on the kite event more than the wingfoil.”

Carved up field

Day six of the world cup held out prospect of a mouthwatering showdown between the first and second seeds, Airton Cozzolino (ITA) and Matchu Lopes (ESP). The two met earlier than expected after Cozzolino lost an opening heat. It meant that the loser between the two would finish ninth and likely damage their world title chances.

Both athletes came out charging and Cozzolino’s ferocious assault on the peeling right-handers in about 20 knots of breeze soon earned some big numbers from the judges, including an 8.27 wave score from a possible 10 for a perfect Air 360.

Cozzolino kept the pressure on, finding waves and linking the three sections, making big hacks of the lip. Lopes, riding backside, made some stunning vertical hacks but could not quite seem to find the waves he needed and went down, finishing ninth overall.

The Cape Verde-based Italian pushed aside rivals like the young Brazilian, Gabriel Benetton, with a huge 9.07 wave score in another heat. That took his heat total to 17.27 for his two counting waves and helped him reach the semi-final.

Cozzolino came up against an on-fire Pedro Matos in the semi-final. Matos had chalked up one of the biggest heat totals of the day—17.47—as he carved a path through the field  with stellar riding and impressive wave selection.

High-octane stuff

Their semi-final was high-octane stuff as the pair went wave-for-wave. But Matos got his nose in front and Cozzolino struggled find a good set wave to get back on terms. Matos put the matter to rest when he slayed a wave for a big 8.67 score that sealed Cozzolino’s fate. The Italian won the third-fourth place run-off to give him the third podium step.

“I’ve been fighting for two years to get a single win,” said Cozzolino. “I think at the next round in Brazil I have to just free my mind. I’m always second or third. Something is wrong and I need to train my mind.”

The other semi-final was a match-up between Matt Maxwell (RSA) and Clément Roseyro (FRA). The pair engaged in an intense duel and barely half a point separated them at the finish, with Roseyro just coming out on top and going to his first final.

The final was an intense 20-minute heat as the sun was setting on the edge of the desert. The pair hunted the swells, but Matos had more success putting numbers on the board. Ultimately only 0.43 of a point separated the pair, but Matos’ 8.40 wave score had done most of the damage and that left Roseyro with the second podium place.

“I feel good for sure,” said Roseyro. “Here in Dakhla it’s a long wave. It’s a dream. A month ago I had a dream that I would get to the final. I didn’t know the result and it’s not the result I wanted. But it’s good for my first final. I’ve been trying to push backside here, and I’m stoked about it.”

Whyte’s brilliance

The women’s side came down to the two semi-finals. In one, Moona Whyte came up against Zoe Bazile (FRA). The French woman had no answer to the brilliance of Whyte, whose hacks in the critical section of the waves were almost flawless. Her 9.50 wave and 18.43 heat total were easily the biggest scores of the contest.

Current world champion, France’s Capucine Delannoy, 17, faced her old rival Camille Losserand (SUI) in the other semi-final. Delannoy’s grearter experience in the waves was the telling factor and she did enough to earn a place in the final.

Up against the Hawaii-based Whyte, Delannoy put up some solid scores. But the French teenager was just no match for the charging Whyte who was in her element in the long rights, scoring another remarkable 8.97 wave.

Delannoy was pleased with her second place, but still has hopes for retaining her title with one more stop to come in Brazil, in November.

“I’m happy I was able to show what I can do in the waves,” said Delannoy. “I’m happy about my riding. Moona [Whyte] did better and she won. She deserved it and it was a nice final. I had a good time in Morocco and today was a special day. The conditions were great. I still want this title and I’m going back home to train.”

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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