James Carew’s meteoric rise through the GKA Kite-Surf World Tour ranks in recent seasons has finally resulted in him becoming a serious threat to Airton Cozzolino’s dominance of the strapless freestyle discipline. The 22-year-old Australian has stormed his way to winning the first two events of the season, but Airton, a 4x World Champion, is never more motivated than when he’s attacking from behind. Together, however, the Duotone team mates are demolishing the standard of strapless competition and taking the game to new heights

WORDS: Axel Reese PHOTOS: Portraits by Axel Reese / Action by Lukas Siller – GKA Kite World Tour

James Carew and Airton Cozzolino are currently, without doubt, the star attractions of the strapless big air scene. In their pure strapless freestyle movie, ‘Game On’, released earlier this season, Airton and James can be seen catapulting themselves into the air in heavy wind strengths and landing megaloops on a surfboard; moves that many professional twin-tip riders are still only dreaming of doing.

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Airton shocked the kitesurfing world in 2020 by being the first person to qualify to compete in the Red Bull King of the Air on a surfboard. KOTA provided Airton with the perfect platform to showcase how far he has taken the discipline of strapless big air. Prior to this year, Airton really has been in a league of his own when it comes to progressing the strapless big air discipline, but in recent months James has shown that he’s more than capable of taking on the veteran. The Aussie powerhouse left his competitors awestruck in August at the GKA Kite-Surf World Cup in Sylt as he pulled off some insane kiteloops, comfortably taking the win. In my conversation with the two talented kitesurfers, we discussed the future of strapless big air.

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