Home Run for matchu
THE FIRST KITE-SURF EVENT OF THE 2023 SEASON KICKED OFF ON THE CAPE VERDEAN ISLAND OF SAL, HOME TO WORLD-RENOWNED PONTA PRETA.
On its day, this legendary right-hander peels for up to 300m over sharp black boulders with incredibly fast walling sections and gnarly barrels. 45 competitors — 28 men and 17 women— from 14 nations spread across five continents, registered for the event. The reigning World Champions James Carew (AUS) and Capucine Delannoy (FRA) were both pumped to defend their titles.
All participants were hoping for Ponta Preta to do its magic allowing them to battle it out in epic conditions. And the riders’ prayers were answered with pumping conditions that could hardly get any better. Needless to say, the limits of wave kiting were seriously pushed in this event for the ages, which was packed chock-a-block with highlights.
On day two, the swell had built to almost two meters with solid bombs exploding just meters away from the spectators and the competition was run until almost dark. The heat between France’s waterman Clement Roseyro and the Cape Verde-based legend himself, Airton Cozzolino (ITA), 5x World Champion, was a true nail-biter. Calling it “the best heat of my life”, Clement led the heat with big hacks and powerful rail-to-rail backhand turns, yet in the last seconds of the heat Airton succeeded in taking the win with a wave that scored him 8.13 right on the buzzer!
Being rewarded with one of the highest single wave scores of the day, Brazil’s Pedro Matos's 9.27 ride gave him the edge over local Hendrick Lopes (CPV), catapulting Pedro into the quarter-finals. Local hero Matchu Lopes (CPV + ESP), smashed out a spectacular performance against young Reunion Island ripper Charly Martin (FRA), with an amazing 9.0 wave that sealed the deal for Matchu and his spot in the quarter-finals. Also, Sebastian Ribeiro (BRA) successfully battled his way into the quarters.
Shortly before sunset, all eyes were on the last heat of the day between current World Champion James Carew (AUS) and Airton Cozzolino (ITA). And the two teammates and friends delivered what the crowd had been waiting for: an outstanding show of skill, power and style on every single wave, plus a check game in the waiting game for the right wave.. The heat was so close, the judges took nearly 10 minutes to decide the winner, with Airton ultimately advancing over James by 0.13 of a point.
On the final’s day, Ponta Preta greeted the competitors with lighter winds and less frequent set waves with the fierce matchups in the quarters claiming some big-name casualties. The survivors that took to the wave arena in the semis were team colleagues Pedro Matos (BRA) against Matchu Lopes (CPV + ESP) as well as Mitu Monteiro (CPV) up against Airton Cozzolino (ITA) and every single one of them went to town with their performance.
Ultimately it was the Cape Verdeans who called the shots in front of their ecstatic home fans with Matchu and Mitu making it through to the final. Before the final showdown kicked off, Airton Cozzolino (ITA) and Pedro Matos (BRA) killed it in front of a buzzing crowd for the third podium spot. Stomping out the biggest heat score of the entire competition of 18.87, Airton gained the victory.
The final was exhilarating and emotional at the same time with Matchu Lopes (CPV + ESP) defeating his friend and mentor Mitu Monteiro (CPV) in his first victory on the world stage in Cape Verde in front of all his family and friends.
Matchu’s stoke was sincerely shared by Mitu and Airton, who all have dreamt about the day they would share the podium since they were kids and we at Duotone couldn’t be more proud of our team’s efforts!
Also the women really pushed the envelope with stellar performances and radical riding. Congratulations to Moona Whyte (USA) for taking out the win ahead of 16-year-old reigning world Champion Capucine Delannoy (FRA) and Kesiane Rodrigues (BRA).
»THE BEST HEAT OF MY LIFE«
Here’s from Matchu “Winning at home for the first time in front of my people, in front of my family at the break I grew up at, which is one of the most difficult breaks to ride especially backside and being the first rider ever winning an event riding on their backhand the whole event, is something that words can’t describe. It’s so unreal for me. The vibe after winning when I arrived at the beach was so crazy and so wild, it felt like a dream, it was hard to believe and still is! It was such an epic event.
We had double overhead waves with perfect sideshore wind. I had so much fun with the biggest scores of my life. The level from guys like Airton, James, Pedro, Mitu and many others was insane and quite intimidating, so I had to believe in myself and make sure I put everything into every single turn in every single heat to make it happen. I’m absolutely stoked, life couldn't be any better right now.”