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Tools of the Trade

On June 1, 2017   |   By kiteworldmag.com

The riders of the GKA Kite-Surf World Tour tell us what they ride and why!

 

The evolution of strapless freestyle has emerged and the GKA Kite-Surf World Tour now mixes pure wave and strapless freestyle events in its calendar.

We’re now seeing a new breed of waveboard as a result, with focus on airtime control and landings as well as pure wave performance.

We caught up with some of the GKA strapless elite at the final stop on the 2016 GKA Wave & Strapless Freestyle tour to find out what boards theyre riding and why…

 

MATCHU LOPES

 

 

What a year Matchu had on the 2016 GKA tour. Part of a strong contingent of Cape Verdean riders, Matchu was consistent across all of the events and although he finished runner-up to his close friend Airton Cozzolino at the first two events, Airtons early exit at One Eye in Mauritius and a tumultuous final event in Dakhla gave Matchu just enough of an edge to win the title!

 

WAVEBOARD OF CHOICE:

North Pro Surf 5’11”

 

STRAPLESS FREESTYLE BOARD OF CHOICE:

North Pro Surf 5’11” or 5’8” in stronger winds.

 

HE SAYS:

A classic board with a nose is better for waves as it rides like a real surfboard. A CSC-style (stub nose) board is certainly going to make it easier to learn strapless freestyle and theyre easier to move around, but I ride the same boards for everything. That way I know how they ride in all conditions and for all styles and I dont have to get used to a board that feels different between sessions.

 

 

JAN MARCOS RIVERAS

 

Jan Marcos has an instantly recognisable and flamboyant riding style. Hes from Cabarete originally but is one of the numerous pro riders who lives and trains in Tarifa, so hes equally at home in the bump ‘n’ jump, strapless freestyle-friendly Poniente wind conditions as he is on bigger, barreling offshore days at Balnaerio.

 

WAVEBOARD OF CHOICE:

North Pro Surf 5’8”

North Pro Session 5’8”

North Pro CSC 5’2”

 

STRAPLESS FREESTYLE BOARD OF CHOICE:

North Pro CSC 5’2” for training

North Pro Session for competition

 

HE SAYS:

Freestyle boards are easier for jumping and theyre more stable in the air. You also dont have to deal with the swing weight of the boards nose when youre turning on a wave or when the board rotates in the air. I actually ride the Session (that replaced the Kontact) in competition as the pintail allows me to get a really aggressive pop when I ollie off waves or chop. I train on the CSC though as its wider and more stable.

 

 

EVAN NETSCH

 

 

Evan grew up, lives and rides in Cape Hatteras and shreds on whatever kind of board you put under him. Hes not only a pro rider for Cabrinha, but also their East Coast US sales rep, so he knows their board line intimately and, with countless hours on the water since he started kiting at age 12, he’s very experienced in board analysis.

 

WAVEBOARD OF CHOICE:

Cabrinha S-Quad 5’9”

 

STRAPLESS FREESTYLE BOARD OF CHOICE

Cabrinha Spade 5’6”

 

HE SAYS:

I like a board thats a bit shorter and wider for easier rotations which is why I ride the 5’6” Spade in smaller surf or for strapless freestyle. The width helps me stick landings and also catches a little more wind to help keep it on my feet, especially when the wind is a little lighter. I use that board in the waves a lot too, but once it gets about head high I prefer something a little longer, narrower and with straighter rails, so I move to the 5’9” S Quad that gives a little more hold. I dont really care that I’m compromising on strapless air performance once the waves are good enough to be the focus.

 

MITU MONTEIRO

 

 

Mitu surely needs no introduction and has had a more defining influence on the strapless discipline than perhaps any other rider on the GKA Kite-Surf World tour. Hes had his own signature model, the F-One Mitu, for many years now and is still at the top of his game, whether hes charging big days at One Eye or Ponta Preta, or throwing strapless manoeuvres in and around the shorebreak and off chop. He’s an inspiration and certainly led the way for the new breed of riders coming through, particularly at home on Cape Verde where he holds legendary status.

 

WAVEBOARD OF CHOICE:

F-One Mitu 5’8”

 

STRAPLESS FREESTYLE BOARD OF CHOICE:

F-One Mitu 5’8”

 

HE SAYS:

I always ride the same board. A wave rider kiting in good conditions might want something specific, but I think its best to adapt to your board in all conditions. When I designed my board I asked for feedback from normal kiters who I trained in coaching clinics to see what they wanted from a board, so although it does have channels and a grab rail for strapless freestyle, its also designed for the average rider.

Ive tried a 5’4” and quite liked it but I think a bigger board can actually be better for strapless as its got more surface area for landing. We also tried some short nosed concepts at F-One but I think the lack of nose can hold you back in the waves and cause you to nose dive. I prefer the versatility of a traditional shape.

 

 

PABLO PREZ-NAVARRO AMORES

 

 

Pablos part of an emerging posse of young strapless waveriders from Tarifa making their foray into competition on the world stage. Splitting his time between cross-off conditions from the left and onshore conditions from the right, the variety of conditions that Tarifa serves up allows him to train on both his back and front hand, helping him develop a really all-round skillset.

 

WAVERIDING BOARD OF CHOICE:

Slingshot Screamer 5’6” in smaller waves

Slingshot Celeritas 5’8” in bigger waves

 

STRAPLESS FREESTYLE BOARD OF CHOICE:

Slingshot Screamer 5’6”

HE SAYS:

I like the Screamer because its a short nosed board but it has a round tail, so the shape is good for short, snappy turns. Its also very durable and works in most waves. In bigger waves though I ride the Celeritas 5’8” and I really only use the Screamer in up to around head high waves. The Celeritas is a more traditional shape and much more comfortable in larger waves.

 

PAULINO PERREIRA

 

Paulino is absolutely electrifying to watch when he takes to the water and nobody on the tour rides with more power. The Portuguese powerhouse finished on the podium at all events apart from Mauritius in 2016 and comes alive when the pressure is on. He confidently mixes a powered wakestyle and kite loop approach into his strapless freestyle with savage, hard turns in his wave riding, making him unmistakable.

 

WAVERIDING BOARD OF CHOICE:

Xenon Gas 5’9”

 

STRAPLESS FREESTYLE BOARD OF CHOICE:

Xenon Quadra 5’7”

 

HE SAYS:

On the wave I prefer thinner rails, more rocker and a squash tail for carving nice big turns. I want to carry a lot of speed into my turns and I want to ride powered. For strapless freestyle I like to have some rail channels to grab a hold of and a narrower tail with a flatter rocker. In fact, I like my whole board to be wider for strapless freestyle and I prefer to use smaller fins as well, which I make myself.

 

 

KEAHI DE ABOITIZ

 

 

Keahi is one of the legends of strapless wave riding with two world titles to his name and is a true waterman. A cousin of Pete Cabrinha, he splits his time between Hawaii and his home in Noosa, Australia, and has competed on the world stage in SUP and was also awarded the ONeill Wave of the Winter award for an unreal barrel he scored at Backdoor in January 2016. He missed part of the 2016 GKA tour due to an injury but made it back to win the final event in Dakhla (where he remains undefeated in three events) and was responsible for a major upset in the semi finals that almost snatched the overall tour win from Matchu Lopes.

 

WAVERIDING BOARD OF CHOICE:

Cabrinha S-Quad 5’9″

 

STRAPLESS FREESTYLE BOARD OF CHOICE:

Cabrinha Spade 5’6″

 

HE SAYS:

It does depend a little on the conditions but in most situations my favourite wave board is the S-Quad unless the waves are only small and mushy. In more powerful waves having something with a more pulled in tail and longer rail line really helps with drive and hold in bigger surf. Also, being a quad means it carries its speed well and works great in bigger down-the-line surf. This is my go-to in a place like Mauritius or in bigger waves anywhere.

For strapless freestyle it would have to be the Spade which is also a pretty good all-round board for small waves. Having something a little shorter and wider always really helps with strapless rotations and keeping the board stuck to your feet. Being shorter, it also allows for fitting into tighter sections for small waves. If its just pure flat water and lighter wind I also enjoy riding the Squid Launcher. Due to the extra width and more parallel outline, it makes going upwind much easier and sticks to your feet really well too.

 

 

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The post Tools of the Trade appeared first on Kiteworld Magazine | The original international kitesurfing magazine.