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GKA Kite World Cup Dakhla: Day 9

by Jim Gaunt 13 Oct 2019 10:25 BST
Airton, hammered. He puts everything in, all the time... - GKA Kite World Cup Dakhla, day 9 © Ydwer van der Heide

Airton's fantastic five heat comeback saw the very best of him (yes, including his amazing backside 3s) and has set-up a re-match on the very last day of the GKA Kite World Cup Dakhla tomorrow with Reece Myerscough in the double elimination semi finals.

In the women's event, Carla Herrera-Oria made it back from rock bottom to face Kirsty Jones in the final, which was postponed at the very end of the day due to rapidly fading wind and light.

What a penultimate day it turned out to be here in Dakhla after a very unpromising, mushy start.

As you'll see in the livestream here, the competition got under way at high tide with difficult shore break waves to contend with that were breaking very close in. The wind switched to an offshore direction around lunchtime and went on hold for over two hours. Once the wind came back round to the more favourable cross-shore direction it also increased in power and, as the tide dropped away a little, although the waves were still small, they started to clean up.

The race director and head judge decided to change the format from pure wave to a combination of one freestyle trick and two waves counting - which would give riders more chances to increase their scores if they didn't have many waves in their heat. This is a combination world tour and this format is perfect for these riders to really show how adaptable kite-surfing is to the conditions on the day.

This also played perfectly into Airton's hands in particular as he loves this combination approach... but could he stay at 110% in back to back heats?

The judges would allow each rider six attempts at a freestyle trick and 15 wave riding attempts. The format made for exciting viewing in this already enthralling double elimination in which riders who were knocked out of the single eliminations early started to fight their way back up the ladder.

It's rare to see Airton and Keahi de Aboitiz knocked out of the single eliminations early... but it always makes the double eliminations more exciting - and these two champions would face off in their second heats of the day. Only one would go on...

As the women's final was postponed mid heat because the light faded and wind dropped right at the end of the day, Airton's re-match with Reece will also now run tomorrow. The two tour leaders on their big comebacks will be pleased for the break this evening. Airton and Carla both won five heats in quick succession in their double elimination charge up the leaderboard and now get the chance to come back fresh against the highest performers so far at this event: Kirsty Jones, Reece Myerscough and Mitu Monteiro!

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