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GWA Wingfoil Race European Championship 2021 | Day 1

Friday 13th of August 2021 

Report Mart Kuperij Photos Laci Kobulsky Video AALVAA MEDIA

It’s August 2021 and we are back at it with the first-ever GWA Wingfoil Race European Championship, taking place at the beautiful lake of St. Moritz in the Swiss Alps, as part of the Engadinwind.

35 men and 8 women from 8 countries registered for a chance to be crowned as European champion in no less than 5 categories: Men’s Open, Women’s, Under 19, Under 16 and Masters.

The competition is open to anybody, and as it is an open European Championship, also non-European riders are allowed to compete and will be able to win the event, but the European champion titles can only be given to the best athletes with a European passport.

COVID-19 precautions
Due to the global pandemic, we’ve put extra precautions in place to ensure our crew and athletes are safe during their time here in St. Moritz. Each rider has taken a COVID-19 test before entering the event and after presenting it at the registration they got granted an entry to the competition zone.

As expected, the day started with glassy water and sunshine, with the thermal Maloja wind not predicted to kick in anytime before noon. This gave the riders the chance to soak up the amazing surroundings this European Championship takes place in. While unpacking and preparing their gear it soon became clear that all competitors had been looking into the conditions and got a feel for what it would take to do well at this event: big wings and small foils were commonplace.

Waiting game
Around noon Engadinwind organiser Christian Müller officially welcomed all the competitors to St. Moritz before passing the mic to GWA Tour Manager Tom Hartmann who did a quick introduction of the event and the spot. After that Race Director Juan Antonio Aragon took the riders to the water to explain the race format of the day: an upwind/downwind course with a reaching start and finish lap – finishing right in front of the spectators!

The next couple of hours were a bit of a waiting game, with wrinkles appearing on the water, getting the riders on the edge of their seats and on standby to race, but not yet out on the water. Hearing the wind had just started to blow upwind in Silvaplana, amateur weatherman and pro wingfoiler Balz Müller explained the local weather system. “When it’s windy in Silvaplana it usually takes about one hour until it kicks in here in St. Moritz. However, with all the clouds up in the mountains behind in the valley, it’s possible that the thermal effect is less strong. Fingers crossed the wind will kick in here… enough time to sharpen the foils!”

‘Meteo’ Balz
Around three o’clock in the afternoon, ‘Meteo’ Balz came with his second prediction of the day: a thunderstorm was coming our way, likely providing a short wind window and a chance for some action. Like clockwork (a Swiss watch maybe?!) the wind started to blow and a host of riders hit the water, giving the spectators on the beach a first taste of the action.

Soon after, the AP flag was hoisted, and the competitors got ready for the first heat of the day: the Men’s Open. Choosing the right foil and wing proved quite difficult, with the wind going up and down and eventually giving way to rain and thunder, forcing the race committee to call back all the riders to the beach.

After this the riders remained on standby, with the wind teasing and shifting for another hour or so before finally dying off, leaving us with a mirror image of how the day had started: a glassy, sunlit lake St. Moritz.

Wingfoil playground
The forecast for tomorrow looks promising, with plenty of Sun and a good chance for the thermal Maloja wind to turn the lake into one big wingfoil playground. Skippers meeting is set for 11:00 am CET with a first possible start at 11:30.

Stay tuned for real-time updates on the event Live Ticker and be sure to check out all the photos of day 1 in our Gallery.

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