James, You used to be solely focused on waves but with the tour being a split discipline, when did the big air aspect begin to become interesting to you?
JC: Yeah I used to be solely a wave guy, then I started with the strapless freestyle and growing with that. With the big air, I’ve always been a bit of a big air fiend, when I was little and conditions got up over 30 knots I was out doing kiteloops and jumping. I didn’t have the skills to do it on a surfboard, as no one was doing it so I didn’t really think of it, to be honest, then as my strapless freestyle began to progress I started to go higher and bigger and developed these skills to where I can go really big now and do these things that were before just in my head. I can figure them out now. I think kind of in the last year or two years its become a big thing, but I think the ignition was that windy event in Fuerteventura I think in 2018. I won that big air event there after the GKA main event and I think that’s what really started it for me.
James, Would you say your toughest competitor is Airton in the big air arena?
JC: In the big air scene, yes! He’s definitely my biggest competition. He’s the guy I’m pushing against and causing some friction and that’s what is taking strapless big air to the next level.
Airton, What do you think about James’s riding and how does it motivate and inspire your riding?
AC: James is a machine, I really love the way he rides, with so much power and super explosive. It motivates me and pushes my riding and it’s great to see him pushing the game and bringing the freestyle strapless to a new level.
Would you consider James your toughest competitor?
AC: Yeah James is probably the toughest competitor on tour, because of his super-powerful style in the surf and in any condition he’s really tough to beat. When I see he’s angry I have to take it easy!
How much time do you get to spend in Tarifa and spots with strong winds and do you find you are searching more for these conditions now?
AC: Over the last two years I’ve spent a lot of time in Tarifa, around 2-3 months a year, usually early in the season when Levante winds are pumping and when Balneario is open to ride. I think it’s my favourite spot in the world right now. I’m always open to ride new spots but I think right now Tarifa is one of my favourites.
Tell us a bit about the mental preparation before going for one of these big air sessions. Let’s start with you Airton:
AC: I don’t really think about it when I go for a strong wind session otherwise the nerves start to get to me. When it’s big wind I try not to think too much, pump my 8 meter and go on the water and kill the game! I’m always thinking about the conditions and not my mindset, I go on the water and just try to have fun!
And for you James?
JC: Somedays the day or week before, as soon as I know the session is going to go down or that the forecast is coming my heart starts beating a little faster. I start to think about what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it. I put myself in that mindset so I can really attack it and take control of all that rawness and power of nature.
And for you James?
JC: I think it’s very important for big air as you take some very big crashes. Not too long ago I damaged my ribs, it’s a good example because at that time I wasn’t feeling strong. I was feeling a little weak and took a crash and straight away hurt myself. I think training all the time and keeping your body really strong and ready is really important. I put in a lot of time off the water, I’m always in the gym keeping my body loose and strong.
Where do you see the future and limits of strapless big air going?
JC: I used to see a lot of limits but now I don’t see so many limits, I just see opportunities, I see the future of strapless big air being very big. I think It has a very bright future. After the last few months and years of training I see a lot of growth potential, for example, the king of the air, I really believe a strapless big air rider could win the KOTA. With a kicker and 40 knots, we can go as high as the twin tip guys and we do gnarlier moves, we already have the board off our feet and the landings are a lot harder on strapless. I think with those things considered the chances for a strapless guy to win is very high in the future.
AC: I call it the new era, it’s not on yet, it’s coming, big things coming!