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FreeFly-Slalom winners crowned in Gran Canaria

Titouan Galea and Nia Suardiaz dominate second day of racing with big victories in epic conditions in Pozo Izquierdo

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Gran Canaria
Pozo Izquierdo, 11–16 July, 2023

France’s Titouan Galea was so dominant in the FreeFly-Slalom contest of the GWA Wingfoil World Cup in Gran Canaria, Spain, that he had the title in the bag even before the last race.

But Italy’s Francesco Cappuzzo, who looked like a strong challenger for the crown earlier in the competition, had to battle to the end to take the second podium step, just ousting Alan Fedit (FRA), who had shown remarkable consistency throughout.

If anything, the Spanish teenager Nia Suardiaz was even more consistent. She won 12 from 15 races to easily lift the crown. She was virtually untouchable and appeared to be cruising for much of the competition.

But on the second day of the FreeFly-Slalom contest, in winds gusting up to 35 knots, France’s Flora Artzner exposed a chink in her young rival’s armour. Artzner took three elimination round wins and secured the second spot.

The third day of the Gran Canaria world cup, with 35 men and 14 women battling for honours, saw the conclusion of the FreeFly-Slalom event after two days of racing in perfect breezes backed by swells that were ideal for the wingfoil competitors.

Stong wind and waves

The GWA Wingfoil World Tour is making it debut at the iconic windsurfing spot of Pozo Izquierdo. Day one of the contest opened with the much-anticipated new discipline of Big Air and Surf-Freestyle, which will continue over the coming days.

But the second and third days of competition served up some of the most exciting FreeFly-Slalom ever seen, with the athletes amped by the cranking winds and swell for the challenging pump sections of the course.

Overnight leader Galea began day two with a healthy advantage, looking forward to battling in the great conditions offered by Gran Canaria and hoping his rivals would repeat their mistakes that had helped him to top spot.

“I’m happy to be leading one event so far,” he said, ahead of racing. “It looks like it’s going to be same conditions as yesterday, with pretty strong conditions. It’s nice to have a venue with such strong wind and waves. The down-wind part was really making sense. We were really surfing that yesterday, so that was fun.”

“Don’t crash”

Yet, almost immediately the Galea slipped up, only managing a fifth spot  in the day’s first elimination round. That allowed his rivals, Francesco Cappuzzo (ITA), who won, and and Alan Fedit, who came second, to close the gap on the leaderboard.

“Actually in the [elimination] final everything was perfect,” said Cappuzzo “At the beginning Fedit was close behind, but I heard him crashing. I said to myself, OK, don’t crash. On the second pump track I just went for the wave and came straight down, making sure no one cut inside me.”

Fedit was equally stoked with the conditions which were forecast to be even stronger than on the first day of the FreeFly-Slalom.

“For sure when it’s 30, 35,40 knots it’s really cool to fight against everyone,” said Fedit. It’s really challenging. The pump track is super-long, so it’s really challenging. But if it’s nuclear conditions, it’ll be great to try the 2.8m2 wing. That would be really, really cool.”

Damage inflicted earlier

In the end it came down to a fight for second place between Fedit and Cappuzzo, in the third and final elimination round of the day, Cappuzzo could only manage third but it was enough keep him above Fedit, who finished seventh in the race.

Galea had already inflicted all the damage in the day’s second elimination round. The Frenchman had done just enough to get to the final without taking risks, but then put the hammer down using the pump track waves to the full to win and seal the overall victory.

He was able to sit out the last round, safe in the knowledge he could not be beaten with a second discard on the way after a total of seven elimination rounds.

Nia Suardiaz never took her foot off the gas pushing to the end in every race. But Flora Artzner (FRA) fared much better on the second day of racing, taking two wins and the second podium step, just ahead of her countrywoman, Orane Ceris.

On day four we will return for more wingfoil action. Join us live here for all the excitement.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Lukas K Stiller

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Gran Canaria 2023

Men’s FreeFly-Slalom
1 Titouan Galea (FRA)
2 Francesco Cappuzzo (ITA)
3 Alan Fedit (FRA)

Women’s FreeFly-Slalom
1 Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
2 Flora Artzner (FRA)
3 Orane Ceris (FRA)

Spot Info: Pozo Izquierdo, Gran Canaria

The weather in Gran Canaria, Spain, during July ranges around 25-30 degrees Celsius with sunrise around 07:15 and sunset at 21:00.

Wind and water
Gran Canaria enjoys great wind in July. Pozo Izquierdo is famous for its strong winds. The wind regularly blows 30+ knots, with gusts up to 40+ knots. The wind direction is from the north/north-east, blowing onshore at Pozo Izquierdo Beach. The strong wind creates decent chop and some wind swell that can break on the reef at low tide. The water temperature is 23-24C, so a shorty or summer wetsuit is a good idea.

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