Alex Neto and Susi Mai win the 2017 Red Bull Rally dos Ventos
- 17 September 2017 | Kiteboarding
Alex Neto mastered the strong winds blowing across the striking blue lagoons and immense sand dunes of Lençóis Maranhenses National Park to win the second edition of kitesurfing's Red Bull Rally dos Ventos.
The Brazilian star excelled on home soil to defend his title and upset world champion Carlos Mario Bebê in a thrilling finish at the end of a tough competition.
Forty-five competitors battled their way through 65 kilometers of picturesque blue lagoons and huge sand dunes in one of South America's most breathtaking settings.
It was Bebê, though, who managed to master winds of more than 40 km/h better until he made a small mistake in the final meters to allow Neto the chance to take the lead for good.
"I didn't think I was going to make it. I was in second until the very last seconds, but I was able to perform a trick right at the end and beat Bebê for the second time in a row. It was a very tough race," the 23-year-old revealed.
In the women's event, American rider Susi Mai jumped out in front at the beginning and made the most of every opportunity thereafter to take the win.
"I did really well in the beginning of the competition and, when I got into the Lençois, I had to try different strategies to go through the dunes," said Mai.
"First, I started to slide on them and then I realized that, if I use the kite board to sit, I was way faster. I'm really happy to get a win here at this unbelievable place."
The first edition of Red Bull Rally dos Ventos took place in 2014, with a far shorter 16-kilometer track. Rally dos Ventos was also supported by ICMBio and Lençois Maranhenses National Park.
Red Bull Rally dos Ventos 2017 | Top 3
1. Alex Neto
2. Carlos Mário "Bebê"
3. Bruno Elizário
1. Susi Mai
2. Maria do Socorro Vasconcelos
3. Alvelina Lameira