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GWA Qualifying Series – Schönberger Strand, Kiel, Germany

New German Champion Crowned in Testing Conditions at First GWA Qualifier on Baltic Sea

16-19 June 2022

Words: Ian MacKinnon

Photos: Timothy Cowen Mothy Media

Yannik Holste landed his first German title in the men’s wingfoil race division in tricky conditions at the national championships, which doubled as the country’s first GWA Qualifying Series event.

Holste secured the win after two Surf-Slalom elimination rounds at Schöberger Strand, Kiel, on the Baltic coast. The racer from Hanover did enough to see off a stiff challenge from last year’s winner, Klass Voget, who took the second podium step.

Jelena Duwe, racing in a mixed fleet with the men, was able to take her second successive national title at the close of the four-day event organised by the German Wing Foil Federation.

It was the first time the federation has run a GWA Qualifying Series event. With other qualifiers planned internationally throughout the year, the standings from the German event will count towards the overall rankings. The top five men and women in each wingfoil discipline will earn a place on the 2023 GWA Wingfoil World Tour.

Biggest Wingfoil Beach Fair

The 2022 German championship was run alongside the second edition of the Foil Festival, billed as the world’s largest wingfoil beach fare. It drew more than 12,000 visitors keen to soak up the wingfoil vibe and ride the latest equipment from 40 exhibitors: makers of foils, boards and wings at the “testival”.

A total of 58 German and international wingfoil athletes—ranging in ages from 12 to 56 years—journeyed to Schönberger Strand to battle in the event staged between June 16 and 19.

At stake in the Open German Championships were the men’s and women’s titles in the Surf-Slalom and Surf-Freestyle disciplines,  with categories for Masters (Over 40) and Grand Masters (Over 50), and Youth in the U15 and U19 groups.

Tricky Winds

The first scheduled day of competition was a bust, with the breezes refusing to build. Day two was a different story, but almost as challenging. Gusty offshore winds varied between 7 knots and 16 knots, playing havoc with racing.

Races in the Surf-Slalom division were continually postponed, abandoned and restarted after the patchy breezes fell below the 6 knots’ minimum and left many off their foils. With 40 men and three women battling through the eight-athlete heats, the racers had their work cut out for them.

But the athletes and the race director persevered and two elimination rounds were completed. For last year’s men’s Surf-Slalom champion, Klass Voget, it was not quite enough after he suffered some ill-luck in round one.

Catching Seaweed

While leading, Voget caught some seaweed on his foil. It slowed him and put him down the order. A victory in round two was not enough to make up the deficit. He desperately needed another two elimination rounds to discard his poor score.

The wind refused to co-operate, though, allowing Yannik Holste to take the overall victory with a win and second place. But with his second spot overall, Voget triumphed in the Masters’ division, while Jannis Blaesino’s third overall earned him victory in the Grand Masters’ category. With a fourth place on the leaderboard, Leon Maethner, won the men’s U19 division.

As only three women competed in the Surf-Slalom division, they raced with the men. But the result could not be validated as a GWA qualifier, as a minimum four racers are needed. In the two rounds completed, Jelena Duwe, finished in mid-fleet. That gave her the women’s overall victory and back-to-back German titles, with Maria Behrens and Christina König taking the second and third podium steps.

Wind Bubble

The final day of competition dealt out further difficult conditions. A two-hour “wind bubble” of 10 knots to 15 knots enabled the race director to run only the men’s U15 and U19 Surf-Freestyle contest, with wins for Hubert Christahl and Benjamin May respectively.

But with insufficient wind and time to run the whole Surf-Freestyle competitions in either the men’s or women’s divisions, only the men’s Surf-Slalom competition results are validated and count for the GWA Qualifying Series rankings.



1 Yannik Holste 

2 Klaas Voget

3 Jannis Blaesino


1 Jelena Duwe

2 Maria Behrens

3 Christina König


website: www.foilfestival.de

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