GKA Kitesurf World Cup (Strapless Freestyle)

04.08.2016 - EXPRESSION BEST TRICK SESSION!
So, on to today, day four. After yesterday's full bore sessions, that not only included the climax to the main strapless freestyle event, but also a full 'Best Trick' contest (both won by Airton by the way), we felt that as we have the luxury of continuing strong conditions at the awesome Rene Egli Sotavento spot, we could allow the contest to breathe by running an expression session. Riders were encouraged to really let go and show us their take on the sport, taking advantage of mixing small wave attack with an array of fun freestyle moves. The crowd would act as an extra judge for the final, and it was up to the riders to court their approval any way they could... as you'll see.

Not much more information required here in words, the riders' action did all the talking. Their best tricks included Airton's incredibly long, high speed barefoot, Paulino's huge kite loop crazy horse, Jan Marcos' signature full height front rolls with lots of style, Pisu's impressive aerials off-the-lip, Matchu's cool front roll combos mixed in with fluid wave turns and of course Luis Brito's handstands, spins, crazy horses... and more!

We should have called this session, the 'Who Can Have the Most Fun on the Water' session! After three heats, six riders ended up in one big final that ran for 20 minutes.

03.08.2016 - GKA WAVE & STRAPLESS FREESTYLE, ROUND 2: SOTAVENTO
QUARTERS, SEMIS, FINALS AND A BIG AIR BONANZA!

After almost two weeks of non-stop action, the forecast could finally – perhaps - be receding in terms of wind here in Sotavento over the next few days. Rene Egli hosted the windsurfing World Cup before this GKA Wave & Strapless Freestyle kitesurfing contest, and in order to ensure a complete result in the best conditions possible, the race crew pushed ahead today with the first quarter final at 12 noon sharp, intending to push all the way through to the final before lunch. The riders certainly dished up a feast of entertainment!

Blowing slightly less than yesterday during the early rounds today, the winds soon increased, averaging 30 knots, with gusts up to 36. Riders found themselves planning their big moves in the gusts, and their more technical tricks in the lulls. There was plenty of gamesmanship out there today and the crowd revelled in the show. The main event indeed concluded before lunch with an insane display, especially in each of the semis and the final, and then in the afternoon a full Big Air contest ladder ran, which was duly lapped up by the spectators.

QUARTER FINALS – MAIN EVENT:
SANDRO PISU VS JAN MARCOS RIVERAS:
A slow start for the morning, but in this contest there's no time for that in these knockout stages. A heat can pass seemingly in an instant, as it must have for Jan Marcos Riveras who had to concede to Italian Sandro Pisu's slight increase in speed, and also landing a surface pass and crazy horse kite loop. Jan Marcos's back loop kite loop wasn't quite enough.

MATCHU LOPES VS CAMILLE DELANNOY:
Camille landed a kite loop and front roll, but he couldn't quite find enough to beat Matchu's variety, who landed a front to blind, toeside air 3 and back rolls. In truth, there was no question Matchu wasn't going to make the final today. He's so hungry, but Camille has done France proud in this contest - the crowd will attest to that!

PAULINO PEREIRA VS RALPH BOELEN:
Stacks of front and back rolls from each rider would have left the result hard to pick, but Paulino is simply an extremely consistent, fast and powerful performer. He may have missed his frontside 3, but landed several nice air reverses, too... and threw caution to the wind with more powerful kite loops, requiring commitment on landing!

AIRTON COZZOLINO VS JOSE MARIA NETO:
Airton is just so very impressive. He has so many front roll variations such as shove its and also to toeside with extreme power and smooth execution. The new Portugese rider on tour still managed to land his special toeside air 360 and front roll, but Airton stepped onto the beach from another planet today.

SEMI FINALS:
MATCHU LOPES VS SANDRO PISU:
A nervy start to the semis with Matchu anxious to go one better than his second place in the last event, while Sandro had never reached this far in an international contest. Matchu notched up a front roll, front to blind, front shove it and double front. Sandro came off second best with a front roll and butt checked crazy horse kite loop, but also managed an air reverse on the inside for the crowds.

AIRTON COZZOLINO VS PAULINO PEREIRA:
In a similar twist of fate, the two most similarly styled, powered riders met again in the semis, in what is surely the heat of the year so far. Airton was on fire with a super stylish and very uniquely executed inverted grabbed front roll before laying out a powerful front shove it as if it was routine. He nailed another new trick - a nose grab to toeside with a surface pass as well as a toeside air 360. Paulino fought hard with powerful front rolls, a front side 3 (air pass) and kite loop crazy horse, however, capping off his performance and illustrating just how far he can go when required, Aiton landed the most perfect mega loop crazy horse we've seen to date.

3RD PLACE FINAL:
SANDRO PISU VS PAULINO PEREIRA:
Paulino landed his first double front roll, a massive crazy horse kite loop and stylish grabbed back roll and outranked Pisu who couldn't find the technicality or power to match the dominant Portuguese rider.

THE FINAL:
MATCHU LOPES VS AIRTON COZZOLINO:
For the second time in as many contests these two great friends found themselves as huge rivals this season. Although they evidently have huge respect for each other, once the green flag goes up, it's battle on. An amazing show, worthy of the final. Both riders landed mostly similar tricks again (front shove it, double front, front to toeside) but the speed and commitment from Airton gave him the win. He also nailed two impressive kite loop crazy horses with near perfect landings which, as you'll see in upcoming videos, was rare in such challenging conditions.

THE MAIN EVENT RESULT:
1st: Airton Cozzolino (Italy) North / Ion / Red Bull
2nd: Matchu Lopes (Cape Verde) North / Ion
3rd: Paulino Pereira (Portugal) Ozone / Channel boards / Underwave / Still
4th Sandro Pisu (Italy) North / Ion / Wipeout / Windwaveclub

BEST TRICK CONTEST:
Luis Brito, giving them more... after asking for more!
As a huge bonus for the loyal crowds, the best trick contest served up the perfect visual desert after lunch. Running all the way through to the final result, Sotavento beach turned into Crazy Horse Town – with 75% judged on height, and 25% on performance. Although there was the oddly impressive huge forward and shove it, the menu was largely about huge kite loop attempts... and although he eventually finished second to Airton's insane aerial prowess and control, it was Cape Verdean Luis Brito who claimed the hearts in the crowd with his flambuoyant, visual and brave display. Paulino Pereira again finished third here and displayed massive commitment in his loops, putting a huge crack across his board on one particularly savage landing. Props to all.

THE BEST TRICK RESULT:
1st: Airton Cozzolino (Italy) North / Ion / Red Bull
2nd: Luis Brito (Cape Verde) Advance / Chupa Chups
3rd: Paulino Pereira (Portugal) Ozone / Channel boards / Underwave / Still
4th: Ralph Boelen (France) North / Ion

02.08.2016 - KA WAVE & STRAPLESS FREESTYLE TOUR ROUND TWO, DAY TWO - BLOWING THE DOORS OFF AT SOTAVENTO!

Day two and the start of the main event here in Sotavento brought some intense action on the water and the crowds got the chance to really see what this new kitesurfing discipline is all about. And entertainment factored highly!

Two sessions saw us rattle through the eight heats of round one in the morning and eight more in the afternoon, bringing the contest to the quarter final stages to come from tomorrow.
The crowds here at the Rene Egli centre in Sotavento have already experienced ten back-to-back days of windsurfing slalom and freestyle World Cup competition in the build up to this kitesurfing strapless freestyle contest, but everyone agreed that this is the first time that the crowds have truly erupted in appreciation of the huge entertainment.

The Rene Egli team have been running world class events here in windsports for over 30 years because it's awesomely windy! We are literally on the edge of this new discipline and watching it develop further with each stop of this tour this year. Last month at round one in Tarifa we had consistent 20 knot conditions each day and riders looked comfortable, yet stylish. During the warm-up day yesterday and throughout all of today, the wind reading barely ever dropped below 30 knots and regularly gusted 40, meaning riders were on their six and eight metre kites.
Adaptation as well as innovation is what's required here and the 17 riders are rising to the challenge. The speed at which they are attempting to land after their crazy horse kite loops sends a shudder down your spine... but they're going for it, and the crowd are loving it!


01.08.2016 -
The GKA event team and strapless freestyle tour riders have arrived at Sotavento in Fuerteventura at the Rene Egli kitesurfing and windsurfing spot for six days of what should be incredible strapless freestyle competition for round two of the GKA Wave and Strapless Freestyle tour.

17 riders registered for the contest this morning and this afternoon they had the opportunity to warm up and get used to the conditions here in front of the crowds. The rest of the week has strong winds forecast for each afternoon, presenting different opportunities as well as challenges for the riders in this new discipline.

The event team at Rene Egli have been running windsurfing world cup events here for 31 years and elite kitesurfing world championship events for the last 12 years. It's certainly iconic in terms of its history. Let's hope we can make some more this week!






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