The level of riding on the GKA Strapless Kitesurf World Cup Tour is developing faster than any other discipline in kitesurfing. Seven years ago at the first strapless freestyle events we saw Frontrolls, jumps with Shove-its and Backrolls, but the discipline has changed since then. Frontrolls, Double-Frontrolls, Triple-Frontrolls? Meanwhile, an easy, high and not-grabbed Backroll gets six points in the GKA Kitesurf World Cup. Probably not enough to make it into a second round of the strapless events. All Frontrolls and Backrolls now come with Shove-it’s, Tic-tacs and flips.
But now comes the game changer; the big change, in strapless freestyle; the pioneers of the scene, Airton Cozzolino and James Carew, are pushing strapless big air. Matchu Lopes, the 2016 world champion, is preparing for these developments. In our talk, he explains what the current challenges and dangers are.
Kitesurfing Magazine: Matchu, the level on the GKA Strapless Kitesurf World Cup Tour has developed rapidly.
MATCHU LOPES: Yes! Again and again a new chapter opens. Four years ago it was a chapter with Frontroll-Shove-its, Double-Frontrolls and Double Backrolls to make it to the next round. Two years ago it was about making everything even higher. The normal Double-Frontroll was supplemented by the Double-Frontroll-Shove-it. Gladly garnished with Tic-tacs, flips, Shove-its and Board-offs. In addition the landings have to have good speed.
Kitesurfing Magazine: This year a new chapter has begun?
MATCHU LOPES: At the moment it is clearly going higher and higher and Kiteloops are now a part of it. The tricks have to be high, done with a lot of power and a high level of difficulty. Kiteloops and rotations are part of it and they’re always complimented with the Tic-tacs, Board Flips. That’s hard.
The whole thing goes in the direction of the King of the Air event, just strapless but not yet as high.
Kitesurfing Magazine: Is strapless big air why you now live in Gran Canaria for the summer?
MATCHU LOPES: Yes! I lived there last summer and I will be in Gran Canaria this summer because of the nuclear winds. It’s so windy there in summer, it’s hard to imagine. In addition, there are only stones on the beaches, so there are only a few people there. It’s warm and in those conditions I can optimally train the strapless big air. I also have a lot of fun!
Kitesurfing Magazine: That means you have to adjust to Airton and James over and over again, right? Keyword: Flat-3.
MATCHU LOPES: It is pushed more and more and the level rises so incredibly quick. Now I’m practicing airpasses like the Flat-3. I don’t like the airpasses at all; it’s risky, but I have to learn them and pull them in the World Cup to get higher scores. Nothing else is the goal! I sustained a serious knee injury during airpass training. But I’m investing a lot of hours in training and yes, the other guys motivate me.
Kitesurfing Magazine: Okay, where will strapless freestyle be in three years?
MATCHU LOPES: More or less like this: even more altitude, Kiteloops, Tic-tacs, Flips, double rotations and fast hard landings. Or when there is less wind, the very technical side: toeside-based tricks, such as the 720. Plus Double-Frontroll-Shove-its, Triple-Frontrolls, Triple-Frontroll-Shove-its. Ah, almost forgot: airpasses. There, too, it will continue to develop.
KM: Is that a big change?
MATCHU LOPES: Yes, huge!