Matchu pulled frustratedly on his bar after a slow and uneasy landing because of a high kite. Where Airton was finding a body and kite angle to rescue a tricky landing and create some forward pull at the last moment, Matchu seemed to be left scrambling for aerial position in the final.
Approaching the last minute, they both took off; Matchu attempting a fast triple front roll on the inside as Airton adjusted to the gusts around another huge back roll combination out back.
As the final few seconds ticked by Airton took off halfway inside the competition box, landing 100 yards from where he started… a late back roll rodeo into a powered kite loop saw him projected in front of his kite. Still 15 feet up with his board locked between his knees he arched his back and craned his neck to look up and check his kite before pulling it in a wide arc around the top of the window, propelling his flight further still. He threw another body spin before reaching down for his board, releasing it from his knees and holding his position… holding… he pulled the kite back around another rescue loop overhead, tucked his legs up to his chest, placed the board under his feet and instinctively pressed them into the deck on landing… which just about counted.
He rode away and ran his fingers through the water, letting his kite pull him downwind and out of the competition zone. The job was done.
The judges later decided to call it a ‘Late back roll rodeo double loop ending with a board off’… whatever it was we’d just seen the most undulating trick of the entire contest that exhibited Airton’s crazy control as a pilot in challenging conditions. Back on terra firma, the reigning Champion said, “Oh man, did you see it, haha, it felt so good. I hope they count the landing!”
All five judges had given Airton three 10s for his heat’s ‘technical difficulty’, ‘variety’ and ‘overall impression.’ Alvaro Onieva commented, “His scores were so high because his heat was full of crazy tricks with tremendous power and performance!” That rating is a first in Kite-Surf World Tour history, and a mark of what Airton was building up to over the last few days.
This result takes him to four wins from five events (in this seven event season), and up to two wins over Matchu in the three finals they’ve contested in 2018. Of his own performance in the final Matchu said, “What can you do when it doesn’t connect!” Five minutes later, as we awaited the official result over the loud speaker in front of the Rene Egli Sotavento crowd, Matchu lifted Airton’s arm before the MC had chance to announce the winner, as all riders hailed ‘Airton the Alien’ (otherwise now known, thanks to the event MC, as ‘Cozzolino Airways’!)
The day started at the quarter final stage in this dingle elimination contest of man-on-man knockout rounds. Here are today’s results:
Keahi de Aboitiz (W) V Camille Delannoy
Matchu Lopes (W) V Simon Joosten
Mitu Monteiro (W) V Paulino Pereira
Airton Cozzolino (W) V Gustavo Arrojo
Matchu Lopes (W) V Keahi de Aboitiz
Airton Cozzolino (W) V Mitu Monteiro
Keahi de Aboitiz (W) V Mitu Monteiro
Airton Cozzolino (W) V Matchu Lopes