Big Air – GKA Sotavento
“HE’S HOOKED INTO ANOTHER ONE!”
The Big Air competition is supposed to be the secondary discipline for the GKA Kite-Surf World Tour if there’s time to run a show once the main event has been completed. Today at Sotavento was anything but secondary to anything. The action was mental!
Tuesday 24th July, Sotavento, Fuerteventura
Report: Jim Gaunt / Photos: Tom Brendt
The Big Air contest riders ended up playing catch the sky hook this afternoon at GKA Kite-Surf World Tour Fuerteventura with some very unusual upper level winds that saw some competitors not just getting extra lift once or twice… Airton in fact registered one incredible slice of hang-time at 20 seconds by repeatedly heli-looping his kite overhead! He just kept going… and going!
When he eventually landed out of the competition zone all the riders, crew and crowd were on their feet, head in hands, speechless at what they’d just seen in this quarter final.
Airton pulled himself up, looked back the beach (which was now a long way upwind of him) and we could see him waving back at the crowd wondering himself quite what had just happened?
His head was surely still spinning because that was the second crazy air fish he’d caught that hour. In his previous heat in the third round against Arsenio Dias, he’d had another similar experience, boosting high and then flying, up, up up and just hovering. Perhaps he was trying to find a way back to his home planet? He landed that jump at the end of a 15 second flight. The beach erupted; it was goosebumps all round.
Up in the tower we were quickly refreshing our memories and Macs with the details of Jesse Richman’s hangtime record of 22 seconds that he set way back in 2007, also with a freak gust that he managed to tap into and somehow harness control of in Germany.
But I’ve never seen anything like it. So that’s two riders in 20 years of the sport, over a decade apart, who have experienced 20 seconds of hang-time… and Airton did it without straps. It was just silly.
Aaaanyway, Airton didn’t actually make the final! Although he was landing sick tricks like his now signature huge back roll double tick-tack, Mitu Monteiro himself managed to hook into a wild series of lifts out back and navigated a long and undulating helicopter ride, knocking Airton out at his own game!
Of course, you might be able to hook one, but can you keep the fish on the line? And then land it? Any good fisherman will tell you the thrill is in the chase and playing the fish till it tires. Mitu rode that gust till it had nothing more to give, covered 100 metres, and landed in the final.
He met Australian James Carew to fight for the win after 16 riders had competed in a dingle elimination format. The heats were judged slightly higher on height today in the windier conditions, up from 60 to 70% from yesterday, with another 30% of points available technical difficulty. In other words what you do while you’re up there. Judges weren’t just looking for straight airs, but the motivation is primarily to go as big as possible.
One trick would take it and with no overall impression, the aim was to just send it!
Below, Frank Fotistica’s gallerie