When it comes to training for competitions, what do you invest most of your time in; wave riding, strapless freestyle or strapless big air? JC: I invest all of my time in strapless big air and strapless freestyle riding. I am comfortable with my wave riding and I know that this is my base. However, I need to improve in strapless freestyle and big air. It is a bigger margin of improvement for me. AC: I try to combine all disciplines depending on the conditions. If we have pumping wind, perfect kickers and I have lots of power in the kite, then I will practice mainly big air. However, when the wind is lower you’ll find me either in the waves or practicing strapless freestyle/ handle-passes. Do you believe the new style of riding you guys are bringing has had an influence on the judging/competition format in recent years? AC: At the GKA Kite-Surf World Cup in Sylt the judges were scoring manoeuvres such as kiteloops and contraloops much higher than front rolls or back rolls. It doesn’t make sense to just stick to the smaller manoeuvres when the wind is blowing 30 knots. Spectators/judges want to see height and risk factor and this is exactly what James and I are bringing to strapless big air. The judges were clearly rewarding this as James did not score below 30 points in the whole competition. To even attempt to beat James every competitor knew they had to go huge as well.
James, you won the GKA Kite-Surf World Cup in Sylt. Do you think the conditions at the event were to your advantage? JC: A lot of guys were struggling with the conditions. The waves were mushy and the wind was strong. However, I grew up in Australia where we get conditions like that a lot, so it was second nature for me. I was able to pull off some of my hardest tricks, such as a backroll contraloop, scoring 9.7. These conditions were ideal for throwing down new big air tricks that have not been seen in strapless competition before and the judges definitely rewarded this! The GKA manager Tom Hartmann has had the idea to run a big air event combining twin-tip, foil and strapless disciplines! Would you consider competing in this? JC: It’s on! AC: Yes, definitely! The big air level is being pushed across all disciplines and we definitely want to drive the strapless scene hard, too.
Are you each other’s biggest rivals in competition? AC: For sure, not only do we compete together but we train together. I used to be the only one pushing strapless big air but then James came along and his level is constantly improving. He is by far the toughest guy to beat on the tour! JC: Airton has always been the rider I look up to the most! There is no one who pushes my level more than him or is harder to beat. When we ride together I am five times better. Aside from competing and training though, I´d like to think that we both have really good vibes off the water, too. What are your plans for the future –will we see you both competing at the King of the Air event in Cape Town? JC: Hopefully! I would love to be able to destroy the twin-tip guys in competition! Competing at KOTA has been on my mind for a while now. However, my main goal for this year is to take home the world title. I won the GKA event in Cape Verde and the event in Sylt, so all I need to do is to keep up the winning streak. I am also working on my 313s (handle-passes), so I hope to nail some of these in competition and give Airton a run for his money! AC: Yes, I will definitely be competing in the KOTA event again. It is hard work because the twin-tip guys are combining more technical tricks at crazier heights. Nevertheless, it is still my dream to win the event. I also hope to land the first-ever strapless flat 7. I couldn’t sleep the night before the Best Trick competition in Sylt because my thoughts were consumed by this trick! I missed the height in competition as the kickers were not enough but, I know with the right conditions, I will land it soon.