World champion lines up for milestone WA kiteboard race
2019 Red Bull Lighthouse to Leighton Kiteboard Race
Current GKA Kitesurf World Tour World Champion Airton Cozzolino-Lopes is one of a record 150 kiteboarders confirmed for the 10th annual Red Bull Lighthouse to Leighton kiteboard race on Saturday 7 December.
The 25-year-old kiter from the northern African island of Cape Verde has won the GKA Kitesurf World Tour three years running but will be taking on his first crossing of the Indian Ocean race from Rottnest Island to Leighton Beach in Fremantle.
"I can't wait to be back in Perth, Western Australia is a dream place, and I'm looking forward to some strong winds, and having fun with everyone in this event," Airton said.
A strong contender vying for his share of A$7000 in prizemoney is three-time Men's European Champion and seven-time Under 21 World Champion Olly Bridge, who took out first place at the 2017 and 2014 Red Bull Lighthouse to Leighton races.
Looking to improve on his 2018 third place position is 19-year-old local kiter Mani Bisschops who is a Youth Olympic Kiter and two-time Australian Formula Kite Champion.
Leading the Women's racing is 2018 fastest female in the race Rachael Hughes (Shoalwater, WA); Queensland's Brei Whitehead, a regular placegetter in World Championship kiting events; World Sailing Champion Bella Zanesco (NSW); and last year's third place winner Natalie Broughton (Palmyra, WA).
Also noteworthy is Perth GP Dr Phil Rowlands who is the only kiteboarder to compete in all 10 races, and he's hungry for a win.
The time to beat is 18 minutes, 49 seconds for the 19km crossing, a record set last year by Olly's brother Guy Bridge in 2018.
Local kiters vying for the Marc Sprod Memorial Trophy include 2011 overall winner and 2015 Twin Tip winner Dale Stanton (Palmyra, WA); 2018 Twin Tip winner Dan Anderson (Coolbellup, WA); and past Marc Sprod winner Alty Frisby (Samson, WA) who has raced in the event nine times.
Non-professional racers competing in this year's event include a US-based venture capitalist, a student, vet surgeon, police officer, farmer, interior designer, and anthropologist, brought together by their passion for kiting.
The Red Bull Lighthouse to Leighton is made possible thanks to Red Bull, Mrs Macs Pies, GoPro and Action Sports WA. Generous community support is provided from Rottnest Island Authority, Fremantle Sailing Club, Kiteboarding Western Australia, Rottnest Express, Fremantle Ports and Royal Life Saving Society.
Racers depart Rottnest Island at approximately 2pm and the fastest competitors are set to arrive at the finish line from approximately 2.20pm, depending on weather conditions. (if wind conditions are not favourable the race will be held on Sunday 8 December - check the website or Facebook event on the day).