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Cappuzzo claims first ever world title

  • Italy’s Francesco Cappuzzo lands ‘dream’ FreeFly-Slalom crown

  • Breakout for Oscar Leclair as he gets first career event victory

  • Six-for-six as Nia Suardiaz caps world title with one more win

Copa Kitley GWA Wingfoil World Cup Brazil 2023
Cauipe, 21–24 November

Four days of non-stop competition have been delivered during the final event of the GWA this year. During days one, two, and three the focus was mainly driven on Surf-Freestyle, however, attention on the last day focused on FreeFly-Slalom where winners were crowned one last time.

Nia Suardiaz (ESP) had already won the FreeFly-Slalom world championship in Denmark earlier this year, so coming into today was the woman to beat. On the men’s side, the world title was still up for grabs, with three riders in with a shout. Francesco Cappuzzo (ITA), Titouan Galea (FRA), and Bastien Escofet (FRA) all had the possibility of taking the title, however, it was Cappuzzo who ended up with the trophy.

Unrivalled consistency 

After years on multiple tours competing at the highest level, Cappuzzo finally managed to become world champion. The Italian, one of the most talented athletes on tour, showcased impeccable riding during the competition. Although he did not take a single bullet his consistency was unmatched against title rivals as the course set seemed to favour his riding style.

Throughout five elimination rounds, Cappuzzo had three second-place finishes and two fifth-place finishes in which he was able to discard one of those results. Those also in the running, Escofet and Galea had results that varied from multiple positions meaning they collected heftier points, so all Cappuzzo had to do was hold it together. 

Hold it together he did, and although on the day Oscar Leclair (FRA) was the better rider taking the event win here in Cauipe, this didn’t faze Cappuzzo one bit as the final stop on the GWA tour sees him as king.

Leclair and Suardiaz top podium

Leclair and Suardiaz both take home first place after dominant performances. Suardiaz, who didn’t lose a single bullet all day, barely put a foot wrong. Her form throughout the year was impeccable, and the young Spaniard has won every FreeFly-Slalom event. The result makes it an unprecedented six-for-six  in 2023.

As for Leclair, this win will taste sweet. His first GWA event win was well-earned, winning three out of the possible five elimination rounds. He quickly brushed aside his third-place result in elimination one, bouncing back with two first places. Elimination four was his worst result, but with that one discarded and a bullet in elimination five, Leclair cemented victory in Brazil.

Leclair, a rider who favours FreeFly-Slalom over the other disciplines will look to enjoy this win and take his performance over into the 2024 season.

Early elimination battles

After finishing the women’s Surf-Freestyle yesterday, we pushed with an elimination on both men’s and women’s sides. During yesterday’s sunset racing, Julien Rattotti (FRA) grabbed the first bullet along with Suardiaz in the women’s fleet. 

At this point, Cappuzzo, Escofet, and Galea all had a poor start, with none of them making the final, leaving it wide open from the get-go. 

Elimination round two, which began in the morning, went to once again Suardiaz and this time on the men’s side to Leclair. The Frenchman was quick, with Cappuzzo chasing in the second position. Again for Galea and Escofet, their elimination didn’t end too well with Cappuzzo now leading for the all-important world title fight. 

The third elimination was again no different. Leclair was on fire as he pinched the victory over Cappuzzo. For the Italian, these second-place finishes were enough because rivals Escofet and Galea weren’t finding their groove. Suardiaz continued to dominate the women taking her third bullet.

Halfway point

Eliminations four and five were tight-knit affairs in most of the heats. Riders were now fully dialled in with a course that created close finishes in multiple heats. Elimination four saw Yannik Holster (GER) take his first-ever bullet as he showed incredible speed navigating the course. Once again we also saw Cappuzzo continuing his consistent run with another second-place finish.

The fourth elimination for women saw Suardiaz continue her winning streak with Kylie Belloeuvre (FRA) coming  second, and Maddelena Spanu (ITA) in third. When the fifth came, Suardiaz had already taken victory. 

The last elimination was the most thrilling, with the level of racing some of the best all year. Riders again showcased how rapidly the sport is advancing and how much variety can be achieved in varied conditions and locations. 

Copa Kitley GWA Wingfoil World Cup Brazil FreeFly-Slalom Results

1 Oscar Leclair (FRA)
2 Francesco Cappuzzo (ITA)
3 Yannik Holster (GER)

1 Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
2 Kylie Belloeuvre (FRA)
3 Bowien van der Linden (NED)

GWA Wingfoil FreeFly-Slalom Men’s World Champion 2023

1 Francesco Cappuzzo (ITA)
2 Titouan Galea (FRA)
3 Bastien Escofet (FRA)

 GWA Wingfoil FreeFly-Slalom Women’s World Champion 2023

1 Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
2 Orane Ceris (FRA)
3 Kylie Belloeuvre (FRA)

See you in 2024

That’s a wrap for the 2023 GWA season. What started in New Zealand and ended in sunny, windy Brazil, has been nothing short of brilliant from start to finish. We’ve had multiple champions across different continents compete all year round. With the off-season now on us, the tour will be back bigger and better, kicking things off in February at Cabo Verde. 

words: Liam Dredge
images: Svetlana Romantsova

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