The FIGHTBACK is ON!
Airton and Carla strike back to tee up a huge penultimate season climax on Sunday
Saturday 12th October 2019
Location: Dakhla, Morocco
Current discipline: Kite-Surf (Freestyle was completed in the first 5 days of this double discipline event before we moved onto kite-surf on Wednesday)
Judging Criteria: 1 Freestyle trick and 2 best wave scores count
Format: Double elimination. Due to smaller conditions, the format has changed to bring in some freestyle: riders get six attempts for a freestyle trick and 15 waves - the best freestyle trick and two best waves count
Wind: 15 - 20 knots
Waves: The contest site moved a little way downwind to take advantage of a playable shorebre
Airton’s fantastic five heat comeback saw the very best of him (yes, including his amazing backside 3s) and has set-up a re-match on the very last day of the GKA Kite World Cup Dakhla tomorrow with Reece Myerscough in the double elimination semi finals.
1). Airton, hammered. He puts everything in, all the time...
In the women’s event, Carla Herrera-Oria made it back from rock bottom to face Kirsty Jones in the final, which was postponed at the very end of the day due to rapidly fading wind and light.
2). Her eyes are on the ultimate prize - Carla made her biggest comeback and will now face Kirsty Jones in tomorrow's final after the heat was postponed at the close of play today
What a penultimate day it turned out to be here in Dakhla after a very unpromising, mushy start.
As you’ll see in the livestream here, the competition got underway at high tide with difficult shore break waves to contend with that were breaking very close in. The wind switched to an offshore direction around lunchtime and went on hold for over two hours. Once the wind came back round to the more favourable cross-shore direction it also increased in power and, as the tide dropped away a little, although the waves were still small, they started to clean up.
3). Dani Jiminez, Juan Antonio Aragon and Mallory de la Villemarque made the call to add an element of freestyle to this crucial penultimate event
The race director and head judge decided to change the format from pure wave to a combination of one freestyle trick and two waves counting - which would give riders more chances to increase their scores if they didn’t have many waves in their heat. This is a combination world tour and this format is perfect for these riders to really show how adaptable kite-surfing is to the conditions on the day.
This also played perfectly into Airton’s hands in particular as he loves this combination approach... but could he stay at 110% in back to back heats?
4). Time and again Airton rinsed whatever was available like his title depended on it... well, it does!
The judges would allow each rider six attempts at a freestyle trick and 15 wave riding attempts. The format made for exciting viewing in this already enthralling double elimination in which riders who were knocked out of the single eliminations early started to fight their way back up the ladder.
5). Keahi de Aboitiz
It’s rare to see Airton and Keahi de Aboitiz knocked out of the single eliminations early… but it always makes the double eliminations more exciting - and these two champions would face off in their second heats of the day. Only one would go on…
GKA Kite World Cup Dakhla 2019, Kite-Surf Double Elimination Highlights
As the women's final was postponed mid heat because the light faded and wind dropped right at the end of the day, Airton's re-match with Reece will also now run tomorrow. The two tour leaders on their big comebacks will be pleased for the break this evening. Airton and Carla both won five heats in quick succession in their double elimination charge up the leaderboard and now get the chance to come back fresh against the highest performers so far at this event: Kirsty Jones, Reece Myerscough and Mitu Monteiro!
Words: Jim Gaunt
Photos: Ydwer van der Heide
Video: Oliver Umpierre