My name is Airton Cozzolino Lopes, I’m 17 years old. I have been surfing since I was 6 years old but I started kitesurfing only in 2006. It was because of my dad who has kitesurf schools in Italy and Cabo Verde. I always wanted to try and when I did I was hooked. When I was 13 years old I participated in my first competition. I won a Junior Champion title in Italy. In 2010 I participated in PKPRA wave competition, I was more experienced then and I finished second.
Your goal is to unite your two passions surfing and kitesurfing?
Yes, exactly. I kitesurf strapless, sometimes I just stop my kite in the air and then it feels like surfing. My style is deeply based on surfing.
What was your biggest achievement in kitesurfing up until today?
Last year I became a World Champion in Wave. I won KSP Championship. I worked and fought really hard to achieve this amazing prize.
You also competed in European Surf Championships is that right?
Yes, exactly but right now I want to fully focus my efforts on kitesurf. I still surf a lot but I gave up competing. It is very complicated to do both at the same time and it is really tiring to compete in surf.
What is your goal for this year?
I want to defend my title as a World Champion in Wave. I have trained a lot and I want to get at least to third place, to be on the podium. It won’t be easy but I am prepared to give my best.
What is your key to success? Do you diet? Do you have special training routines?
I don’t have any special diet and I eat a lot, a bit of everything. My training routine is to train as much as I can in the water and then go to the gym to strengthen my muscles. Kitesurfing can be dangerous sometimes, if you land a trick badly you can injure yourself really badly so I try to strengthen my body at the gym to be prepared for every possible situation. I train arm muscles, leg muscles, a bit of everything. I’m not training to be big, I train to be strong and train my endurance.
Your favourite spot?
My favourite spot is Ponta Preta in Cabo Verde and Mauritius.
Perfect wave, side off wind. Here in Portugal the wind is usually side. I am not used to it so it’s more difficult but I have been training here for last two weeks so I’m feeling better and more confident in those conditions.
You also practice SUP?
Yes. I’m training with Fanatic International. I am training hard to participate in SUP Championships this year as well. My big goal is to become a Waterman, compete in Surf, Kitesurf and SUP. I am training really hard all those disciplines and next year I hope to start competing and winning.
Freestyle or wave?
Last year I competed in Freestyle but I decided to focus on Wave instead. Each and every year Freestyle championships are getting more and more difficult to win, more dangerous. I prefer surfing waves than jumping. I’m not into jumping or performing tricks like that anymore. I prefer surf board, waves, wave tricks.
What are your favourite tricks?
I try a lot and I love strapless tricks, rotations, grabs. It is very difficult because you have to perform everything strapless but I try everything I can to have fun on the waves.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
When my dad told me that I should try kitesurfing I said no because I thought I would need a lot of strength to to that but kite doesn’t require strength. When you grab a kite it is something different. A lot of friends of mine that used to windsurf once they tried kitesurfing they switched immediately. Before they were competing in windsurf championships now all they want to do is kitesurf.
Everyone should try kitesurfing because it is a wonderful sport. You have the nature around you, sea, wind, sun with just a sail in your hand it is an amazing feeling.
Thanks Airton and good luck for the rest of the competition!