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Work to do for world title contenders

Published 15th November 2023 by Liam Dredge

 

Turbulent start for some as tricky conditions throw riders challenges while Cozzolino shines

Copa Kitley GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Cauipe
Cauipe, 14-18 November, 2023

With registration complete, 40 of the world’s best riders arrived in Ceará, northern Brazil, to compete at the final tour stop of the GKA calendar in the Kite-Surf discipline. With trade winds blowing consistently for six months of the year, Cauipe is born and bred for kitesurfers and today saw us get underway with the early rounds for both the men and the women. 

With a world title on the line, the likes of Airton Cozzolino (ITA), Matchu Lopes (ESP), and Pedro Matos (BRA) will all be battling to lift that trophy. Matos who recently snatched his maiden event win in Dakhla, Morocco, will be looking to continue his momentum on home soil. However, Lopes and Cozzolino will have other plans, as currently just a small 90 points separates these two who are first and second in the rankings. 

On the women’s side, Moona White (USA) leads the standing, having won every event she has competed at this year. Defending world champion Capucine Delannoy (FRA) will not want to give up too easily and will certainly benefit from the mixed format as freestyle certainly plays to her strengths. Camille Losserand (SUI) is also another rider, currently placed third in the world, who could cause an upset.

Judging criteria 

With conditions allowing riders to showcase a varied riding style, Head judge, Paulino Perreira explained how riders would be scored. During heats, riders would be allowed to perform a selection of wave scores and freestyle tricks with one of each going towards their overall score. The third counted score would be either a wave or a trick, depending on what the rider scored better. 

This format benefits both the riders who are stronger in the waves and those who favour freestyle with that third trick being selective between the two. Conditions will play a huge factor as both low and high tides offer different playgrounds. Over the past few days we have seen the high tide also affect the wind with conditions getting lighter around mid-late afternoon.

Turning heads

Rounds 1 and 2 featured wildcards and qualifiers looking to progress further in the competition. For some, it is their first time competing at a world tour level and can be a good occasion to turn some heads and get people talking on the beach. Brazil is home to a number of talented riders who do not have the ability to travel the world, so a place in this world cup event can create vast opportunities for the locals.

Francesco Cappuzzo (ITA), a rider who needs no introduction, found himself in Round 1 due to not competing this year as his ranking does not pre-qualify him However, he went straight into Round 3 after his convincing early win.

Rough starts

As Round 3 began it was time for the big names to get stuck into the mix. In a round that sees no rider be eliminated, however, the winner of each heat progresses straight to Round 5, whilst the second and third places get another chance in Round 4.

Taking to the water for the first time, Pedro Matos (BRA) came up short against two local rippers as he struggled to link his heat together. Artur Morais (BRA) had a blinder of a heat with all three of his scores higher than anyone else on the water, meaning he goes into Round 5, leaving Matos with work to do in Round 4.

Joining Matos in Round 4 is none other than fellow world title contender Matchu Lopes (ESP). It was a day to forget, as Matchu finished third in his heat. Despite landing a nice Back Side 3, scoring 7.07, he could not link it up when it came to the waves. By contrast, heat winner, Leonardo Grangeiro (BRA) thrived in the challenging shore break waves, with two scores above the 6.00 mark. 

Sebastian Ribeiro (BRA), who also won the Brazilian nationals just two days ago, had a rough start to his competition in Cauipe. The Brazilian finished second in his Round 3 encounter with a low 6.70 overall score.

Cozzolino charging

Airton Cozzolino (ITA) was on another level during Round 3. With a total score of 20.16, out of a possible 30, this was the highest combined heat score from any of the men. This total included a 5.73 wave ride, from a possible 10, and two freestyle tricks. Cozzolino’s Front Side 3 scored a massive 9.00 with his Back Roll Tic -Tac that was paired with a Frontside 3 for 5.43. 

If Cozzolino takes this form into the next days, he will be the man to beat.

Intriguing battles

After waiting patiently during the day, and once the men’s Round 3 concluded, the women went to the water. It was straight to Round 3 with no athlete eliminated just yet.

Camille Losserand opened her account with 14.20. Losserand, the current Surfboard Big Air champion, is a rider who loves both waves and freestyle and will be eager to go the distance here after having a good overall year.

Capucine Delannoy placed second in Round 3, however. It may have been a tactical decision from the current world champion, who wants to meet Moona White before the final to still keep her hopes alive for back-to-back championships. If Whyte finishes third or higher she automatically becomes world champion.

More action tomorrow

We’ll be continuing here in Brazil tomorrow. With similar conditions on the cards, the action will get underway early in what has the potential to be a day where we crown at least one champion.

words: Liam Dredge / Ian MacKinnon
images: Svetlana Romantsova

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