Pedro Matos taking the win at GKA´s Distance battle Strapless Freestyle

Duotone Kiteboarding Pedro Matos interview

Coming into the GKA Distance battle as somewhat of an underdog, Pedro Matos gave a wake up call to the world of Strapless Freestyle by taking out the win at GKA’s Inaugural event. We caught up with the talented young Brazilian rider that is now on everyone’s radar!

Duotone Kiteboarding Pedro Matos interview

Congratulations Pedro on taking first place at the first GKA Strapless Freestyle Distance Battle, how does it feel to take the gold?

Hey thank you very much it feels amazing! I have been training a lot to get to this point, I went to Prea (Brazil) and spent about one and a half months there kiting for 4 to 5 hours every single day learning new tricks and trying my best with my trainer filming from the beach. It was exhausting, but in the end it all paid off! I feel so glad to win the first GKA distance battle, my first GKA event win and the first Brazilian man to win a GKA Strapless event! I’m running out of words to describe the happiness right now!

It must be a very different experience to witness your heat being scored online than being out on the water being scored in the moment, how did it differ from the feel of a regular contest format?

It’s so different from a normal competition, you don’t have the pressure from the crowd or your family and it is not live so if you miss a trick you can go out there and do it again, on the other hand you need to do the best heat of your life because you have the time to do it, so it’s a different kind of pressure.

How did you feel watching live?

My first heat I was feeling nervous, I was up against Kiko (Roig Torres) and if I went out then it would be disappointing to not show the riding I had filmed for the next heats. The next round I was up against Mitu (Monteiro) and it was really close, so that was nerve racking. Then the final against Camille (Delannoy), I was stoked to have made it that far and I know Camille is a really good rider and competitor, so at that point I was happy and confident to have made it that far riding my best, I left nothing back, so in my mind my thoughts were; if I win that would be amazing and if I come second, I’m also happy as I had given it my all. Off course seeing it again now, it motivates me to push even more next time I’m on the water!

How have you been spending your time since the first event in Cape Verde, have you been able to travel and get on the water and what has been your focus during the off-season?

I actually haven’t been training that much at all, because Brazil has been on lockdown and I couldn’t travel anywhere to train, here at my home spot (Rio) the conditions weren’t good, I have probably kited two times in the last six months prior to my trip to Prea. Once I arrived in Prea, I was on the water every day. During the downtime in Rio I did a lot of functional training and work with my trainer and I worked on calming my mind and focusing forward on the parts of my kiting that needed strengthening.

You're known to be an incredible talent in the waves, how much have you switched focuses on strapless freestyle over the last months?

I already have a lot of time and experience in the waves, so I knew I could take it easy a bit on the waves part, this allowed me to focus one hundred percent on strapless freestyle, as I knew I was several steps behind the top guys. What I needed to do was train hard and go for it. I had one of the best locations in the world (Prea) as my base, it’s very windy and conditions are perfect, so I think that helped a lot with my progression. The progression came quickly; I was studying all the tricks the top riders are doing, from Matchu to Airton to Mitu to Camille and trying to understand them, add them to my repertoire, while adding my style to each move.

During the 5-minute heats how did the heats differ during each round?

Each heat was different, it was the best four tricks in each heat but the trick families varied on each heat, so I needed to complete my best tricks in those trick categories within the five minute timeframe on an uncut clip to be in with the best chance of passing to the next round.

How much time did you have to capture your best heats?

I filmed all of my heats over a one-month period, I am very lucky that my trainer is also a great videographer, he was able to capture all of my heats on the water and we could then analyze my performance. He helps me a lot with my heat strategy and even down to the small details such as capturing the heat from the best angles to give me every advantage.  

How many attempts did you make in filming your final heat?

Once I had planned my heat out, it took a lot of riding to get the heat we were satisfied with, well over 4 hours on the water that day, trying to make the perfect final heat.

Duotone Kiteboarding Pedro Matos interview
Duotone Kiteboarding Pedro Matos interview

How is it to be doing a heat without the vibes of traditional competition? 

The vibe is so different, I was alone with my trainer / videographer and you need a lot of self motivation and support to push yourself, you don’t have the pressure that competition brings, but you have the pressure of doing a perfect heat and linking those four tricks together at the best of your ability within five minutes, it’s harder than it sounds.

Did you have any communication with your competitors on what they were doing during the process?

I kind of knew what the other guys were going to do, as I have watched them for years in competition and I get to see on social media the latest moves they are working on, so I worked on a strategy against the competition, knowing roughly what they were going to do. I then worked out what I needed to do to get a better score.

What location did you use and how did that play into your advantages?

I did all my heats in Prea, the conditions are perfect there and the wind is so consistent, I think all the riders on tour would agree this is one of the best set ups to perform for this type of contest. Some riders prefer Tarifa and Cape Town for this kind of riding, but the day in day out consistency that Prea offers, really allowed me for maximum time on the water.

What was your equipment set up for the heats?

I was using my Pro Voke 5’1”, I had been using the Pro Whip previously when I freestyled, but I guess the Pro Voke worked out pretty great! I was on my 8m Neo kite, it’s my favourite kite to ride Strapless and it loops very fast with lots of power! For the bar it’s the click bar, it allows me to trim my kite depending on the trick I want to do, for example on the toe-side 720, I like to depower to hold a better toe side edge for the take off and then power it up for big airs and kite loops.

Duotone Kiteboarding Pedro Matos interview

Any shout outs?

Big shout out to my trainer, he was pushing my limits, encouraging me always; when I landed a double, he would push me to try for a triple, he also filmed everything! I also want to thank my Father and Mother for all their support, God and a big shout out to my sponsors Duotone, ION, Ortobom, MFC and BRkite, to allow me to stay right in front of the spot, it allowed for the perfect environment to sleep eat relax and go for it, that helped me a lot! Thanks guys!