Main event action and riders begin to drop on Day Two GKA Kite-Surf World Tour 2017 – Round 3: Sotavento
Luis Brito back in familiar waters / Photo: @Ydwer
A steadily building wind greeted the riders today as they prepared to pitch into the main event. Before round one kicked off a handful of riders competed in three heats to gain their seedings and local riders Kuba Juras (originally from Poland) and German transplant Thorben Jasper looked perfectly at home in the Sotavento conditions while crowd pleaser Luis Brito clearly relished being back in Sotavento nailing a variety of flamboyant tricks from the off.
There are always plenty of fans in Sotavento! / Photo: @Ydwer
Round one then got underway with Matchu winning the first heat after a slightly reserved but smooth performance against Italian Tony Cili. Keahi followed with what was undoubtedly the most polished, and complete, display of the day with everything from low angle technical tricks like powered toeside pops to wrapped to big rotations and board-offs. Keahi’s always quick to play down his own strapless freestyle level but is going to be one to watch at this event.
A Tarifan duel followed in which Gustavo Arrojo beat Jan Marcos Riveras in one of the tightest heats of the day.
Gustavo goes for it / Photo: @Ydwer
As round two began the wind was ramping up and some small waves emerged as the gust range increased so that riders would have to switch kites during their heats at times. While this event isn’t being judged under the same mixed format as Dakhla, riding the waves on offer will still add to the judges’ overall impression so the riders were looking to make use of the swell when possible.
Matchu was given a real run for his money by current Spanish champion Kiko Roig Torres who rode outside of himself with powered tricks close in to shore but it wasn’t enough to unseat defending champion Matchu who progresses straight through to round three while Kiko exits the competition.
Theo Demanez up against his team mate
Next up was Theo Demanez and Keahi in another example of a young rider rising to the occasion against one of the tour’s big hitters. 17 year-old Demanez showed his considerable talent, answering Keahi’s frontroll shuvit with one of his own, and he met Keahi’s endless stream of stylish, varied tricks with his own creative riding. When Keahi crashed and made a last minute kite change in the final minute it looked like we were perhaps about to see a major upset with Demanez taking the win, but Keahi’s competitive edge came through and he stuck a board-off kiteloop in the dying seconds to seal Demanez’ fate.
Keahi makes it count when it matters / Photo: @Ydwer
In round three, Airton’s fondness for punchy conditions shone through as he dispatched Luis Brito with a powered toeside flat-3 and the biggest backroll of the day before Paulino Pereira launched a no-holds barred assault on Thorben Jasper, including a massive double can-can board-off, to win the heat.
Airton, shining in the challenging conditions / Photo: @Ydwer
Paulino, focused / Photo: @Ydwer
In the last heat of the day, tour leader Mitu battled through an injury he’d sustained yesterday in the warm-up to beat fellow Cape Verdean Djo Silva – coming excruciatingly close on a double frontroll shuvit in the last minute to finish the day’s action.
Mitu the maestro sends it into the quarter-finals / Photo: @Ydwer
Tomorrow the remaining eight riders will duke it out in the quarter-finals. The rider’s meeting is at 11.30am with a first possible start at 12pm and strong winds are forecasted. The aim is to push towards the finals so stay tuned!
The eight riders progressing to the quarter-finals are..
Keahi de Aboitiz