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Clean sweep for Nia Suardiaz in the Canaries

  • Spanish teenager lands FreeFly-Slalom crown in Fuerteventura to bring title haul to four in back-to-back events

  • Titouan Galea clings to lead in men’s FreeFly-Slalom with all to play for on final day of world cup in Sotavento

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Fuerteventura
Playa Sotavento, 21–26 July, 2023

Spain’s Nia Suardiaz dominated the FreeFly-Slalom battles at the GWA Wingfoil World Cup in Spain’s Fuerteventura to claim the crown, just two days after she landed the Surf-Freestyle title.

Suardiaz’s double came barely a week after the remarkable 16-year-old secured the titles in both disciplines at Pozo Izquierdo, Gran Canaria, the first of back-to-back GWA world tour stops in the Canaries.

“I’m super-happy,” said an elated Suardiaz. “I’ve won 13 elimination rounds out of 15. So yes, I’m just super-grateful to be here.”

On the penultimate fourth day of the Fuerteventura World Cup, and the second day of FreeFly-Slalom competition, France’s Titouan Galea just managed to cling on to his lead at the head of the standings.

But going into the final day, everything is still to play for with Italy’s Francesco Cappuzzo and the French pair of Alan Fedit and Bastien Escofet snapping at Galea’s heals, ready to pounce on the slightest mistake.

Pressure told

Day four of the world cup saw three more elimination rounds run in the men’s 40-strong FreeFly-Slalom fleet, bringing the total to six. The compactness of the women’s fleet of 10 allowed for another eight races, to bring their total to 15.

Suardiaz appeared utterly unstoppable. By the end of race 12, she had led every contest from start to finish and showed no signs of letting up in her pursuit of a perfect score.

Yet, perhaps the pressure began to tell and Suardiaz slipped up in race 13, though she already had the title in the bag. Flora Artzner (FRA) grabbed the lead at the pump section and as Suardiaz fought for position, she crashed and did not recover in time.

Race 14 also proved a tight affair with Orane Ceris (FRA) seizing the lead with a crucial tack just after the first mark. Suardiaz got her nose in front in the pump section, but Ceris regained the upper hand when she sneaked inside at the last mark to take the win.

Battles intensify

Suardiaz reasserted her dominance in the final round, though Ceris pushed the young Spaniard hard. Suardiaz closed out with a convincing win to cement her place on top of the leaderboard, with Artzner and Ceris taking the second and third podium steps, and Kylie Beloeuvre (FRA) in fourth.

The fast-improving Beloeuvre was buoyed by her performances over the two days of the competition and has big hopes of moving up the order.

“Yesterday [day three] went super-good,” said Beloeuvre. “I was happy because I was pretty consistent with my results. I got only thirds and fourths, so hopefully I can improve a little bit in the rankings. So I really hope I can get a second, or even a first. That would be cool, so I’ll try to make it happen.”

The battle among the leading men intensified on day four, which was filled with drama. Overnight leader Galea was disqualified from the elimination round four final, along with key rival Cappuzzo, for crossing the start-line early.

That left the door open for Escofet, but as he pushed for the lead he crashed and finished down the order, with Julien Rattotti (FRA) taking that win.

Tension palpable

Rattotti was on the prowl in the fifth elimination final and hunted down Cappuzzo, just getting inside the Italian with a big move at the last mark to take second place. Galea had already crossed the line ahead of both of them to take the win.

The tension ahead of the sixth and last elimination final of the day was palpable. Escofet rounded the first mark ahead, but Fedit tacked inside him and held the lead to the finish despite the pressure from Escofet, Cappuzzo and Galea.

The finishing order compressed the leaderboard, cutting Galea’s lead. But with three elimination rounds scheduled for the last day of competition and another discard to come, when a rider can throw out the worst score, the potential for dramatic change is huge.

Join us here to watch the action live see how the drama unfolds.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Lukas K Stiller

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Fuerteventura 2023
FreeFly-Slalom results

Women
1 Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
2 Flora Artzner (FRA)
3 Orane Ceris (FRA)
4 Kylie Beloeuvre (FRA)

Men (after 6 elimination rounds, 1 discard)
1 Titouan Galea (FRA) 8.4pts
2 Alan Fedit (FRA) 14.7pts
3 Francesco Cappuzzo (ITA) 17.7pts
4 Bastien Escofet (FRA) 19.7pts

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