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Keahi de Aboitiz

Big Wednesday – The GKA Wave Finals

And so draws to a close the 2016 GKA Wave and Strapless Freestyle Tour after a long day of back-to-back heats that whittled down the competitive field to just two riders, Keahi De Aboitiz (AUS) and Airton Cozzolino (ITA). Although there were a number of riders who could have held their own in the final, it was equally no real surprise that these two found themselves battling it out for the top spot. A real clash of the titans. The waves had been steadily improving as the tide dropped and as Keahi and Airton took to the water they ramped the level up, giving us one last 15 minutes of flair with the size-able sets coming through. Going wave for wave for the entire heat, they put on a show of astounding ability and vastly different styles. Going for broke, Airton threw everything at the final / PHOTO: Ydwer van der Heide Airton was all commitment and power, driving hard through bottom turns and attacking the lip with a vengeance while Keahi calmly sought out the best waves he could before carving them to pieces in his smooth, unfaultering style. At the end of the heat, to the onlooker, it …


Delivery at dusk in Dakhla at the GKA Morocco finals

Today, after a couple of days of waiting, we were able to get the competition underway in the late afternoon with the first two heats of the trials going ahead in light, but usable, winds. Prior to these pre-main event qualifying heats, the 15 riders hoping to make it into the main event were briefed on the judging criteria, which calls for each competitor to be scored out of ten for the variation and difficulty of their manoeuvres as well as the overall impression they make on the judges during their heat. Ideally, 50% of points are to be awarded for strapless freestyle riding and 50% for wave riding but, as the winds weren’t quite strong enough for strapless freestyle tricks, the decision was made to score the heats entirely on wave riding performance. There was a tentative start to heat one as the riders positioned themselves in line with the incoming swell and Spaniard Jhon Palacios had a strong start with an unhooked wave 360 before Brazilian Filippe Ferreira took command of the heat, squeezing everything he could out of the variable waves on offer and riding with the same unmistakably powerful style that we’ve seen in his regular …


When Airton went out…

When the favourite is dumped out of international competition early by a local rider, things change, throwing the event wide open. Here’s the reaction from Mauritius when Airton went out of the GKA Wave & Strapless Freestyle event at One Eye, allowing Matchu Lopes to jump ahead in the championship with one event to go.

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