Epic Cape Verde waves battleground for first kite-surf clashes as top athletes launch quest for glory
GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Cape Verde 2023, 17-27 March
GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Cape Verde 2023, 17-27 March
The men’s and women’s Qatar Airways GKA Kite-Surf World Champions, James Carew and 16-year-old Capucine Delannoy, are set to begin the defence of their crowns at the legendary Ponta Preta break on the Cape Verde island of Sal.
Hard-charging Australian, Carew, is seeking to land a third successive world title after lifting last year’s crown with decisive victories at the two world tour stops in tricky conditions in Dakhla, Morocco, and Taiba, Brazil.
French teenager Delannoy also claimed a win at the opening stop of 2022 season in Morocco and did enough to take the world championship crown by reaching the semi-final in Brazil. It was her year’s second title after she won the Qatar Airways GKA Big Air Kite-Surf World Championship in Tarifa, Spain.
Big stellar field
Both are rostered to take to the water in the 2023 tour’s first stop at the GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Cape Verde. It is one of the globe-trotting tour’s five scheduled stops that span Africa, South America and Europe.
The pair are among a starry field of 41 men and women, from 14 nations and five continents, who have been drawn by the promise of epic conditions and tough battles.
All the men’s and women’s top seeds are due to fight for glory. The victors in the storied 2019 barrel-fest, Cape Verdean Mitu Monteiro and the US’s Moona Whyte, are also set to return to the iconic African surf-break.
Hotbed of talent
The mouth-watering 2023 contest will be staged at two possible Sal locations. Ponta Preta, with its big, glassy waves and cross-offshore winds, is to be the primary spot. Kite Beach on the south-east of the island is the back-up if Ponta Preta is not working.
Ten islands make up the archipelago of Cape Verde which lies a two hours’ flight south of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic. Due to their geographical location the islands are frequented by pumping swells and reliable trade winds.
It is those conditions that make Cape Verde a hotbed of internationally-renowned kite-surfing talent. Aside from Monteiro, the highly-seeded Hendrick Lopes is among a clutch of Cape Verdeans with home break advantage, who are up for the fight.
Brazilians are coming
But for reigning champion, Carew, one of the biggest threats may come from Spain’s Matchu Lopes, who also calls Cape Verde home. The Brazilian trio of Pedro Matos, Sebastian Ribeiro and Gabriel Benetton have also at times pushed Carew hard.
French title holder Delannoy will also have her work cut out for her if she is to keep the crown. Brazil’s Kesiane Rodigues exploded onto the kite-surf scene to take the tour stop win on home waters in Taiba last year, just ahead of three-time freestyle world champion, Bruna Kajiya. Both are slated to show up in Cape Verde.
None of those minimise the threat posed by highly-ranked rivals, like Canadian, Frances Kelly, Camille Losserand (SUI), Charlotte Carpentier (FRA) and compatriot Zoe Bazile. Each have shown themselves capable of upsetting the form books and it promises to be an enthralling contest.
For those seeking the ultimate wave-riding experience, look no further than the legendary Ponta Preta in Cape Verde. This picturesque spot offers big, powerful, and glassy waves, accompanied by the most favourable offshore winds. Considered a playground for expert level riders, the waves here can soar up to six metres high, making for an adrenaline-pumping experience like no other. While the beach is rocky in places, it’s also dotted with pockets of sand, making it an ideal location for side-offshore kitesurfing when the north-easterly winds kick in.
As one of Sal’s most versatile kiting spots, Kite Beach welcomes riders of all levels with open arms. The beach’s consistent onshore and cross-onshore winds make it a top choice for kiteboarding enthusiasts, ensuring riders always have a smooth return to the sandy shoreline.
While it may be the busiest kitesurfing location on Sal, the vast three-kilometre stretch of sandy beach ensures ample space for both seasoned riders and kite schools alike, even during peak months. Those closer to the beach can expect a mild wind-blown chop and the occasional shore break, while further out on the reef, you’ll find waves perfect for shredding. So come one, come all and experience the unparalleled kiteboarding paradise that is Kite Beach.
Cape Verde offers fantastic wind conditions with consistent North-Easterly trade winds blowing between 15-25kts almost daily from November to June. The wind tends to be strong throughout the day, with the most powerful gusts occurring from 9am to 3pm. Kite Beach is the primary kitesurfing spot on Sal, as it faces east and provides less turbulent, onshore wind compared to other south or west facing locations.
The winter months offer pleasant temperatures of around 22ºC, and the water temperature is only slightly cooler. Most kitesurfers will find a 3/2mm shorty wetsuit suitable for full-day kiting sessions, while board shorts may suffice on warmer days later in the season. Regardless of the time of year, it’s essential to apply sunscreen.
Wind directions include NNE, NE, and E, and the windiest months are November, December, January, February, March, April, and June.
HOW TO GET THERE?
Located just a six-hour flight from most major European cities, Sal offers kite enthusiasts the promise of strong and reliable winds from October to May.
WHAT TO DO ON A WINDLESS DAY?
Cape Verde offers diverse activities such as diving, surfing, SUP, wakeboarding, deep-sea fishing, sailing, island tours, and quad-tours. The underwater world boasts a mix of tropical and Mediterranean marine life, while the waves and shallow waters are perfect for surfing and SUP. Non-kiters can opt for sailing, and hunters can join fishing trips. Island tours and quad-tours are available for those who want to explore the island.
Here’s how to stay up-to-date with all the event happenings
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: Ydwer van der Heide
Top ranked athletes set to battle in penultimate wave stop in Morocco to cement bids for world championship crowns
Kiko Roig tops podium for first time as title holder Capucine Delannoy gets back to winning ways in Sylt and goes top of standings
Former world champion's biggest tactical mistake of career fails to dent title hopes as he tops standings after tricky North Sea clash
French teenager fights back to come out top in tight final at opening of world cup in North Sea resort of Sylt