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TheKiteMag 52 Lunar Lander Jett Bradshaw Matias Cornalino 8 copy 1200x800 - Lunar Lander

Lunar Lander

Head into the mighty Andes in western Argentina and you’ll find a dam where the wind funnels down the mountains creating conditions for high-wind antics in a lunar-like landscape. Jett Bradshaw recently orbited round the globe to compete there for the second time at Cuesta del Viento Big Air, and this time bagged himself a podium place, and some lifelong friends.

PHOTOS: Matias Cornalino
TheKiteMag 52 Lunar Lander Jett Bradshaw Matias Cornalino 4 scaled - Lunar Lander

When that spin around the sun came round again there was absolutely no way I wasn’t going to make my way across the planet back to my home from home, Argentina. The people, the experience and the uniqueness of Cuesta is something magical, and I was coming back to hopefully make a name for myself. Arriving in Buenos Aires is always exciting yet challenging from a jet lag point of view, which I seemed to really battle with this year. Loads of empanadas and cups of the Argentinian tea, mate, seemed to do the trick, and Mauro and the Santa Tabla crew were unbelievable in getting me back on track and prepped for the 14 hour drive to the event site. Arriving in Cuesta I would liken it to what I imagine a trip to the moon would be like: barren, dry and cold. One difference however… the people and vibe of this unique place are next level.

From a kiting perspective, Cuesta is not my ideal destination from a discipline point of view – flat choppy water with extremely gusty winds is not where I’m comfortable, so this comp was always going to be a challenge. Strategy-wise I was hoping to compete on short lines for the entire event, however my first couple of days training at the spot were really frustrating as I was battling to read the behavior of the wind. Cuesta is all about timing, with an element of luck as the wind is found in pockets that one continually has to be on the lookout for, so local knowledge a huge advantage. Day one of the comp I was really chuffed with my seeding as it gave me somewhat of a road map on how I needed to navigate the comp. The realization that I wasn’t going to feature on short lines quickly set in and 22m lines it was, not my ideal weapon of choice.

The first couple of heats were tight, and I narrowly won both – I think nerves were getting the better of me, still battling to understand the challenges of Cuesta. Fortunately the event ran over three days, so by the time I got to the quarter finals I was feeling my groove and really starting to enjoy myself on the water. The quarter finals were pretty straight forward with my new-found understanding of the wind layers and the guidance of the Santa Tabla crew. Getting to the semifinals was a huge psychological milestone as this is where my competition unfortunately ended last year. Thankfully I won this heat, although now the reality of a final against local legends Beto Gomez and Santi Cisneros set in – this was going to be a tough one.

Strategy-wise, well there wasn’t one – body on the line and give the crowd what they came for… extreme Big Air! I was definitely kiting out of my personal comfort zone, which was bound to catch me at some point. Halfway through the final heat I attempted a megaloop board off… Remember that gusty wind I spoke of? She let me down, I fell out the sky and woke up in the back of an ambulance… A podium place was more than I expected in this amazing competition, and I was so stoked to get a third place although I would have loved to have battled it out until the bitter end.

I couldn’t have scripted this whole experience any better, having reconnected with lifelong friends and forged some amazing new relationships. Argentina you delivered once again. Este país ocupa un lugar muy especial en mi corazón, no puedo esperar a verlos a todos ustedes, gente increíble, el próximo año.

Ed: We’re not going to translate Jett’s Spanish for you, nor can we vouch for its accurateness. You’ll just have to Google it for yourselves. But we will give the last word to one of the event organizers, Mauro Freire from Santa Tabla shop…

“As local representatives in Argentina, we faced many challenges due to economic and political complications in our country, which sometimes make things five times harder to accomplish. Despite these challenges, we accomplished the event in a location that looks like the moon with really poor infrastructure, and helped make Jett feel at home with a sense of family, care and friendship during his stay. I believe this was crucial for his psychological well-being as an extreme sports athlete who travels the world and often feels alone. The teamwork of all involved and that sense of family support, as well as the values of companies such as North/Mystic and Santa Tabla, plus all the effort that Jett puts in, I believe all together contributed to his success in achieving his first podium. The value of human connection and the feeling of being part of a family and crew and having that sense of support in your corner can make a significant difference in an athlete’s experience and performance…”

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