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Winners stake world title claims

Published 20th March 2023 by Ian MacKinnon

 

  • Podium lockout for Cape Verdeans at close of stellar contest on Ponta Preta waves

  • US’s Moona Whyte back after four-year break to take convincing win

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

Spain’s Matchu Lopes came from behind to seize victory in a clash for the ages in the opening round of the GKA Kite-Surf World Cup on the Cape Verde island of Sal.

Lopes, who calls Cape Verde home, defeated his friend and mentor, Mitu Monteiro, in the final after three days of breath-taking action on the legendary Ponta Preta break.

The duo were joined on the podium by another local legend, Italy’s Airton Cozzolino. For Lopes, his first victory on the world stage on Cape Verde, was highly emotional.

“Winning here, I have no words for it,” said Lopes. “Winning here is the best spot ever that I could have won it—in front of the crowds and all my family. Going in a heat with Mitu, who I’ve admired since I was a kid. I always wanted to be like him, to travel the world and be world champion. It’s priceless”

Whyte a childhood inspiration

In the women’s side of the competition, the US’s Moona Whyte returned to Cape Verde and continued where she left off four years ago. She took the win, slaying the waves with commitment and verticality, even in a final that threw up tricky conditions.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “It’s crazy. It feels like just yesterday that I won here before. The final was tough. There weren’t many waves coming through. I don’t even know if we had any big sets. Definitely tough. The wind was a little bit light, but I made it happen.”

Whyte defeated reigning 16-year-old world champion, France’s Capucine Delannoy, in the difficult final. But Delannoy was far from disappointed after facing off against her childhood inspiration.

“It feels really good,” said Delannoy. “It was a good competition, even though the final was tough. The conditions weren’t the best. But Moona deserved this win. I’m so proud. When I started kiting, started competition, she was on the top and now I’m in the final with her. I’m really proud and really happy to be here.”

Ponta Preta an incredible canvass

The world cup was run over the first three days of the 11-day competition window. Forty-five athletes—28 men and 17 women—had travelled from all over the world to battle on the renowned break in the Qatar Airways GKA World Tour.

Ponta Preta was firing on the opening days when it was the canvass for incredible kite-surfing drama. Three-times world freestyle champion Bruna Kajiya, 36, continued to build on her new-found success in kite-surfing.

She came fourth overall after being defeated in the mini-final by fellow Brazilian, Kesiane Rodrigues.

The men’s side of the draw had attracted a stellar cast of kite-surfers, as well as some intriguing new additions. Among them was Italian Lorenzo Casati, the reigning Red Bull King of the Air. The 17-year-old advanced deep into the competition, and was only eliminated just ahead of the quarter finals.

Champion’s shock exit

Standout performances came from a clutch of Brazilians, including Gabriel Benetton,  Sebastian Ribeiro and Pedro Matos, who came fourth overall after running up against an ‘on fire’ Cozzolino.

Australia’s James Carew suffered at the Italian’s hands too. The reigning world champion made a shock exit before the quarter finals after he was defeated in a heat for the first time in three years.

But it was the Cape Verdeans who ruled the roost in front of their ecstatic home fans.

“This is the best podium we have had in a long time,” said Cozzolino. “Sharing it with Mitu and Matchu—we’ve spoken about this since we were kids. It’s a dream come true. I’m superstoked with my result. The season has still a long way to run and I’m going to do my best to come out on top.”

Monteiro was similarly elated. “It’s so nice to have it here at home, to have my friends on the podium with my here in Cape Verde—is really, really nice. I’m super-stoked.”

That’s a wrap for the GKA Kite-Surf World Cup in Cape Verde. Now we’ll take a break, with the next kite-surf event due up at the beginning of August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Stay tuned and follow all the updates.

Words: Ian MacKinnon
Photos: Lukas K Stiller

GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Cape Verde 2023

Men’s Results

1 Matchu Lopes (ESP)
2 Mitu Monteiro (CPV)
3 Airton Cozzolino (ITA)
4 Pedro Matos (BRA)

Women’s Results

1 Moona Whyte (USA)
2 Capucine Delannoy (FRA)
3 Kesiane Rodrigues (BRA)
4 Bruna Kajiya (BRA)

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