The grand finale of the 2016 Mauritius Kitesurfing Pro was the Men’s Strapless Big Air Contest, which took place on Saturday. Although this contest wasn’t the main focus of the Mauritius competition, it was a spectator favorite. Riders demonstrated the diversity of their talent in this unique discipline. In the end, Paulino Pereira from Portugal finished on top. Read the details from the Global Kitesports Association, and enjoy the photos compliments of Toby Bromwich and Jim Gaunt, below.

Saturday saw the promise of a carnivalesque performance from the strapless freestylers as they put on a show right in front of the spectators, up close and personal at the offshore point of the public Kite Beach in Le Morne. As riders sped in towards the spectators they’d pull the trigger on their tricks just feet away from the beach, firing themselves away from the crowd, downwind into the lagoon.

The beauty of this discipline, thanks to this talented and fun-loving pack of riders who feed off each other’s enthusiasm, is that the crowd can’t help but be absorbed by the action.

17 riders were split into three heats of four and one heat of five, with riders going off like fireworks in an attempt to claim the biggest score in a ‘big air’ category that was judged 70% on height and 30% on high performance / difficulty.

Tour riders Jan Marcos Riveras, Tundra Max and Carl Ferreira kept the beach party well tuned with info on the mic. On the water, this discipline is so technically difficult that it requires 100% focus… but what these guys manage to do is make it look like all they’re doing is having fun on the water. If you hear of any of these riders coming to a beach near you at some point, make sure you get down there to check out their skills. It’s eye opening to see the direction they’re taking the sport!

The tour’s top four ended up in the final.

THE FINAL HEAT: MATCHU LOPES Vs PAULINO PEREIRA Vs AIRTON COZZOLINO Vs JAN MARCOS RIVEIRAS

Paulino Pereira finally took his first win on tour. Although this big air ‘secondary’ discipline doesn’t count toward the overall title, there’s a lot of kudos in winning it between the riders, and especially psychologically in getting one over Airton, who always strives to finish on top.

Paulino is like a firecracker out on the water. By trade, he’s an aircraft mechanic for the Portuguese army, but he’s given clearance to come and represent his country at these events. We probably should have applied for air space clearance for him before this final as he earned the win through one of the biggest boosts and controlled board off that we’ve ever seen, somehow holding it all together, piloting his kite one handed to ride away to a massive cheer from the crowd after he’d soared away from the beach just in front of them.

Airton landed a big kite loop crazy horse, which was his highest scoring trick, touching down very powered. He’s getting better and better at being able to stomp powered landings with the progression of each tour stop. In fact, he also landed a super neat 315 which, if you didn’t look closely, you’d think he’d been using a twin-tip and participating on the WKL! However, although he scored a 10 for the performance category for that trick, the remaining 70% counting for the big air criteria was lacking. It’s a privilege to see his level though and both the crowd and his fellow riders really appreciate everything he brings to the table.

Matchu looked incredibly relaxed throughout the afternoon’s event. Having achieved his dream of winning here in the wave contest earlier in the week, he was out just to have fun. He spent most of the heats he wasn’t riding in lying in the water, enjoying the action, and watching his friends throw down as keenly as the crowd. He’s a joy to have on the tour, and his double front rolls are getting so dialled in that it’s ridiculous. He threw a couple of tight ones in to get third spot on the podium.

Jan Marcos Riveras has managed to develop a uniquely huge front roll with a style that he’s made his own. Piloting around a big front roll without grabbing the board takes enormous awareness of the wind and there’s a long moment in the middle of his version of the move in which he gets a much more extended lift than other riders and holds it steady. His cavorting and earning favour with the crowd is one of his increasingly recognisable tricks, but so too is this massive front roll. It got him to the final, but couldn’t quite get him onto the podium.

GKA WAVE & STRAPLESS FREESTYLE TOUR: MAURITIUS MEN’S BIG AIR RESULTS:

1st Paulino Pereira (PORTUGAL)  Ozone / Xenon boards / Underwave

2nd Airton Cozzolino (ITALY)  North / Ion / Red Bull

3rd Matchu Lopes  (CAPE VERDE)  North / Ion

4th Jan Marcos Riveras  (DR)  North / Ion / Wet Watersports

5th= Sandro Pisu  (ITA)  North / Ion

5th= D’Jo Silva  (CAPE VERDE)  F-One

5th= Matt Elsasser  (USA)  Cabrinha / NP

5th= Ralph Boelen  (FRANCE)  North / Ion

9th= Mervin Louis  (MAURITIUS)  North Mauritius

9th=  Tundra Max  (CANADA)

9th= Stefano Di Sora  (ITALY)

9th= Jeremy Chan  (MAURITIUS)  North Mauritius

9th=Keahi de Aboitiz  (AUSTRALIA) Cabrinha / NP

9th= Patri McLaughlin  (USA)  North / Ion

9th=James Carew  (AUSTRALIA)  North / Ion

9th=Sebastian Ribeiro  (BRAZIL)  North / Ion

9th=Mitu Monteiro  (CAPE VERDE)  F-One

The GKA Wave & Strapless Freestyle Tour will see a mix of freestyle and wave events run in 2016, eventually resulting in the crowning of a GKA Wave & Strapless Freestyle Rider of the Year. After Mauritius the tour moves to Dakhla  – Morocco in October and Fortaleza in Brazil in November.

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Tue 13th Sep, 2016 @ 12:00 am

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