The inaugural event of the 2023 Kitesurf and Wing-foil World Championships took place in the picturesque setting of Ponta Preta beach on Sal Island, Cape Verde. The event saw a remarkable display of talent from Cape Verdean athletes, who dominated the podium in both disciplines.
In the Kitesurf World Cup, the much-anticipated final saw a thrilling battle between the Hispano-Cape Verdean kitesurfer Matchú Lopes and the legendary Mitú Monteiro. Lopes emerged victorious, scoring 12.87 points compared to Monteiro’s 9.97 points. Despite the lack of waves suitable for the championship’s requirements, both athletes showcased their impressive skills.
Lopes, who was visibly excited by the achievement, expressed his gratitude for competing against Monteiro, whom he had learned a lot from in the past. He dedicated the victory to his home country, stating, “This title stays in Cape Verde, on Sal Island.” Waving both the Cape Verdean and Spanish flags, Lopes was met with roaring applause from the enthusiastic crowd that had gathered to celebrate with him.
The third-place playoff saw another Cape Verdean-native, Italian-citizen Airton Cozzolino, outperform Brazilian Pedro Matos, sealing a podium filled with Cape Verdean talent.
The excitement at Ponta Preta continued with the Wing-foil World Championship, where local hero Wesley Brito edged out experienced French competitor Benoit Carpentier in a breathtaking final. Brito’s acrobatic skills on the water earned him 15.03 points, pushing Carpentier to second place with 14.24 points.
A visibly emotional Brito was carried on the shoulders of his supporters as he struggled to find words to describe his achievement, calling it an “unforgettable moment.” He also highlighted the importance of government support for athletes and expressed hope for obtaining visas to compete in upcoming events.
The first leg of both the Kitesurf and Wing-foil World Championships, taking place from the 17th to the 27th of the month, has set the stage for a thrilling season ahead. With subsequent events scheduled in Rio de Janeiro, Sylt, Dakhla, Taiba, and Leucate, athletes and fans alike eagerly anticipate the continuation of these exhilarating competitions.
The first World Championship event at Ponta Preta was not only a showcase of Cape Verdean talent, but also an emotional reunion for the athletes. Mitú Monteiro, who secured second place in the Kitesurf World Cup, shared his heartfelt thoughts on the competition:
“When I decided to come back to competition, I had no expectations. But I can’t deny that I wished for a podium from the bottom of my heart. I can’t express how much it means to me to share the podium with these two talented guys who I consider to be my younger brothers Matchu and Airton. This is our playground, our home spot. This is the place where I saw them growing up. Matchu said in an old video, ‘I want to be like Mitu.’ My friend, you’ve got it. You have triumphed.”
Monteiro also highlighted the significance of sharing this experience with his three children, Michael, Matthew, and Malakai, calling it “one of the most emotional things I’ve ever done.”
This event not only displayed the outstanding skills of these athletes, but also demonstrated the close-knit relationships between them, as they celebrated their achievements together on their home turf. The camaraderie and shared pride among the competitors contributed to the unforgettable atmosphere at the 1st World Championship event in Ponta Preta, Sal Island, Cape Verde.