Standout riders Airton Cozzolino in the foreground and Matchu Lopes Almeida going big out the back...

Standout riders Airton Cozzolino in the foreground and Matchu Lopes Almeida going big out the back… Photo – Rou Chater

The great and the good gather in one of the kitesurfing meccas to battle it out toe to toe, without a wave, or a foot hook in sight…

Strapless kitesurfing is a huge aspect of our sport these days, lots of riders have a surfboard and plenty of them have removed the straps. Sadly though most of us aren’t blessed with pumping waves on a regular basis so we make do with carving turns, popping airs and generally enjoying the challenge of a different aspect of our great sport.

The event set up was impressive to say the least!

The event set up was impressive to say the least! Photo – Rou Chater

As with anything, there are always those guys who take it to another level and unless you’ve been living under a rock in recent years you will have seen a few of the mind blowing videos featuring the likes of Mitu Monterio and Airton Cozzolino pulling off moves that defy comprehension.

Tarifa isn’t blessed with the best waves in the summer, yet to look at the kiters on the water you would be forgiven for thinking it’s a wave magnet, there are surfboards everywhere! Jaime Herraiz and his buddies decided the time was right to host the first ever Tarifa Strapless Kitesurfingt Pro event and if the last weekend was anything to go by we think it will be the first of many.

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With riders from all over the world, including Australia, Cabo Verde, America, Portugal, Spain, France and Italy it was set to be a showdown to remember. When we arrived at the beach we couldn’t quite believe what we were seeing, the place was packed, the music was pumping and there must have been over ten thousand people watching on the shoreline!

“Even though there were no waves here in Tarifa it was a blast to ride with all the boys and see the strapless level grow!” – Niccolo Porcella

The weekend was action packed with the Levante blowing solid 8m weather on the Saturday with some pumping gusts. The first few rounds of the competition had already been completed during previous few days. The final rounds took place on the Saturday offering up an amazing show featuring some of the best riders on the planet. If you’ve ever ridden a strapless surfboard you’ll appreciate how hard it is to keep it on your feet. Lets just say there must be some magic formula in the wax these guys were using.

Airton Cozzolino going big...

Airton Cozzolino going big… Photo – Rou Chater

Portugeezer Paulino Pereria was pulling some ridiculous kiteloops right in front of the crowd!

Portugeezer Paulino Pereria was pulling some ridiculous kiteloops right in front of the crowd! Photo – Rou Chater

Double front rolls were being landed like it was no big thing, triples were being attempted and some crazy board varial combo’s with rolls were also being put together. The crowd on the beach were getting whipped into a frenzy by the huge kiteloops and there were cheers and gasps galore as the riders put their ankles on the line for a chance to get into the final.

“Big up for this event, thanks to everyone for setting it up and making it so enjoyable. Stoked it is in one of my favourite towns in the world too! The strapless trick scene is getting big and it is going to get bigger!” – James Ropner

Stand out riders throughout the day were Matchu Lopes Almeida and Airton Cozzolino, the boys from Cabo Verde are masters at this and these were the two riders you really didn’t want to draw in your heat! Airton went up against his fellow countryman Mitu Monteiro and took him out, but they then sadly drew each other in the semi finals and it was Airton who progressed leaving Matchu in the losers final.

Matchu Lopes Almeida was looking dangerous throughout the event!

Matchu Lopes Almeida was looking dangerous throughout the event! Photo – Rou Chater

Keahi hadn't been training for the event, but he was still absolutely nailing his tricks!

Keahi hadn’t been training for the event, but he was still absolutely nailing his tricks! Photo – Rou Chater

On the other side of the draw Keahi De Aboitiz was doing well, Keahi doesn’t really go out and train for this kind of riding, hailing from Australia and spending most of his time on Maui he’s lucky enough to be blessed with amazing waves to play with. He’s a talented rider though and was pulling off some solid spins and varials and he had a mean kiteloop up his sleeve too.

In the end it was an Airton v Keahi final and the smart money was on Airton to take the win. His level of strapless riding is just on a whole other playing field and while some riders had good and bad heats he just seemed to consistently land everything with ease.

Mitu Monteiro had a tough draw against Airton and lost out...

Mitu Monteiro had a tough draw against Airton and lost out… Photo – Rou Chater

Keahi put on an impressive display in the final and at one point it looked really close, his signature kiteloops on the inside were impressing the crowds and the judges and he had some solid board spins and flicks that he was incorporating into his tricks. In the end though Airton proved too much with his flawlessly consistent style and ridiculous bag of tricks getting him the title. A back mobe with no footstraps landed cleanly? Shut the front door!

“It’s pretty amazing to see how far strapless freestyle has come, and the level at this event was pretty amazing! Big thanks to everyone involved in putting this event on and I’m looking forward to the next one!” – Keahi de Aboitiz

Keahi De Aboitiz had his kiteloops absolutely dialled!

Keahi De Aboitiz had his kiteloops absolutely dialled! Photo – Rou Chater

In the losers final Matchu went up against Paulino Pereria from Portugal. Paulino had an absolutely amazing heat and landed all of his moves early on, with his big tricks in the bag he went crazy trying to land a huge kiteloop on the inside, but never quite managed to stick the landing cleanly. Matchu had a slow start, and looked to be struggling a little but seemed to find his flow towards the end to land his best tricks and take the third spot on the podium.

Paulino Pereria had an absolutely stunning heat in the losers final.

Paulino Pereria had an absolutely stunning heat in the losers final. Photo – Rou Chater

With the competition done for the day the riders headed off to celebrate with a plan for a big air and best trick competition on the Sunday. Needless to say there was one name that stood out once again and Airton Cozzolino took the win in both disciplines. He really is on another planet with this aspect of the sport!

Airton Cozzolino dominated the entire event winning all the big checks and setting the standard for the future!

Airton Cozzolino dominated the entire event winning all the big checks and setting the standard for the future! Photo – Rou Chater

“Stoked to take the win here at the #TarifaStraplessKitesurfingPRO, congrats to Keahi and my brodda Matchu!” – Airton Cozzolino

The inaugural Tarifa Strapless Pro was a huge success with the both the riders and the spectators getting an amazing few days of competition. The spot at Valdevaqueros proved to be the perfect amphitheatre and we’ll be back to see the event again next year!

Keahi sends another one...

Keahi sends another one… Photo – Rou Chater

Final Results

1st: Airton Cozzolino

2nd: Keahi de Aboitiz

3rd: Matchu Lopes Almeida

The champion gets crowned!

The champion gets crowned! Photo – Rou Chater

The crowds on the beach were huge...

The crowds on the beach were huge…

The view from the judging tower...

The view from the judging tower…

Keahi getting stylish...

Keahi posing for the camera…

Mitu Monteiro walking on water!

Mitu Monteiro walking on water!

James Ropner getting inverted!

James Ropner getting inverted!

Niccolo Porcella is always stylish!

Niccolo Porcella is always stylish!

Tarifa Strapless Kitesurfing Pro

Tue 7th Jul, 2015 @ 1:21 pm

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