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GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Cape Verde - Day 1

by Ian MacKinnon, GKA Kite World Tour 18 Mar 2023 13:20 GMT 17-27 March 2023
GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Cape Verde - Day 1 © Lukas K Stiller / Mintautas Grigas

The legendary waves of Cape Verde were firing for the first clashes of the opening GKA Kite-Surf World Cup which has drawn the globe's top athletes to fight for honours.

The women's competition kicked off the event. It began with a bang when Hawaii-based Moona Whyte opened her account with a stunning 8.0 wave, showing her poise with powerful, linked turns. The US rider did even better with the day's highest wave score of 9.23 several heats later.

The men's round saw the most dramatic battles of the day, fought out in the sinking sun as the swells ramped up to 6ft in a perfect 15-18kts of breeze. Multiple world champions, Matchu Lopes and Airton Cozzolino, duelled in the day's final heat.

Lopes drew first blood with an audacious ride that was a showstopper that drew cheers and hoots from the crowd that lined the beach on the island of Sal. The Spanish rider, who calls Cape Verde home, began on his backhand, before switching to frontside and earned a 7.53 score.

Forty-five riders—28 men and 17 women—travelled to the idyllic African island seeking the chance to open their claims for the 2023 kite-surf world title.

Australia's James Carew has been training in Ponta Preta for several weeks as he looks to defend his crown and push for a third successive title after winning in Taiba, Brazil, last year. The men, who started later in the day, only reached the middle of Round 3 and Carew did not get a chance to take to the water.

Reigning women's Qatar Airways GKA Kite-Surf World Champion, 16-year-old Capucine Delannoy, opened her campaign with a series of solid rides that propelled her through the heats and took her and her surviving rivals to the quarter finals.

Delannoy came up against local Cape Verde favourite, Julia Borghi Silva. The 14-year-old is the daughter of local legend and event organiser, Joe Silva. The pair went toe-to-toe in some of the biggest sets of the day. But despite encouragement from her father, Joe Silva, from the beach, Delannoy was too strong.

Whyte won the competition here in 2019 in epic conditions. She felt compelled to return to battle in this perfect right hander. The Hawaii-based rider threw down the gauntlet to rivals with her opening waves.

Brazil's Kesiane Rodrigues began the competition with big expectations of her. She won last year's closing world cup on home waters. She moved through the gears with some stylish hacks off the lip, driving out the fins.

The men took to the water as the sun began to dip. But the sets were just getting bigger. Cape Verdean legend Mitu Monteiro came out of retirement to join the party. Just shy of his 40th birthday, he showed all his experience on the Ponta Preta break. He earned the highest wave score of the day in the men's contest, with a 7.67 for remarkable hacks in the pocket that brought cheers from crowds on the beach.

Cape Verde-based Hendrick Lopes drew similar acclaim. He attacked the waves with ferocity. But he also linked his turns with plenty of flow, smashing it off the top and driving his fins out of the lip. For good measure, he threw a couple of air reverses in the final section.

Another standout of the day was Brazil's Pedro Matos. He threw down a series of jaw-dropping vertical rides and consecutive air 360s. But it was not without drama. He had failed to don the correct competition lycra but was handed one by a coach in the water, earning him a disqualification from the heat.

On Day 1, the competition reached the women's Quarter Final stage, while the men got through to the middle of Round 3. For Day 2, the decision by the Race Director was to push on to complete as much as possible of the competition. Stay tuned for updates.

For more information visit event website.

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