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GWA Wingfoil World Cup Day 4: Surf-Slalom Rippers Centre Stage!

Day 4 of the GWA Wingfoil World Cup France in Leucate started bright and early with riders on the water at 6:30 am. We were finally provided with the conditions we had been waiting for all week. Strong Tramontana winds, perfect flat water and an unforgettable sunrise to top things off. 

Friday 29th April 2022
Words:
Holly Keenan

Photos: Samuel Cardenas
Videos: Julien Leleu

We had a perfect 15-20 knots offshore breeze with butter flat water. This allowed riders to swiftly zig zag their way round the six markers all the way to the finish line, 500m offshore. The conditions made for prime slalom-racing with riders reaching pure top speeds. 

Womens’ Surf-Slalom 

We started off the day with the womens’ Elimination Round One, with each female rider having two discards. Fiona Wylde (USA) dominated the first heat. Wylde had a flying start, placing herself at the front of the pack from the very beginning. The firing Frenchie Flora Artzner was close behind but could not match the blistering pace of the American hotshot. 

“I couldn’t have started the morning in a better way. I felt quite nervous this morning as we have been waiting around for the last three days not knowing when we are going to race.”

To jump in the first heat without much of a warm up is always difficult, but I just followed the tactics I thought would work and I am super happy to end up in first place in the first race of the day.”

Womens Slalom-Freestyle
Womens Slalom-Freestyle
Flora Artzner winner of the GWA Surf-Slalom
Flora Artzner winner of the GWA Surf-Slalom

In the Second Elimination Round Fiona had a turbulent start which left her unable to gain her momentum. Czech charger, Paula Novotna took full advantage of this slip up and powered through the fleet to take first place in the 2nd Elimination Round. 

Nevertheless, it was the formidable Frenchie, Flora Artzner who came out victorious. Flora managed to take the win in both the 3rd and 4th Elimination Round which was enough for her to take the overall win in the Surf-Slalom discipline. 

“It was such a fun event for me, I had to fight with all the girls, Fiona was really pushing me in all the races, but I am thrilled to come out on top.”

Mens’ Surf- Slalom 

In the men’s Surf-Slalom, we had 18 riders in each heat. Each male rider had one discard in total for all the Elimination Rounds. There were some very tight heats with riders pushing each other down to the line. 

Current reigning champion Titouan Galea proved unstoppable during the first few Elimination Rounds, but Camille Bouyer and Mathis Ghio were hot on Titouan’s toes. In the Elimination Round Three finals, we had the firing Frenchie Mathis Ghio leading throughout the whole race, but the pressure became too much at the final buoy, and he took a hard crash. This gave Titouan the opportunity he needed to take first place, once again proving undefeatable. 

We managed to catch a quick word with Titouan to ask what was going through his mind when Mathis was leading in Elimination Round Three. 

“In wingfoiling, when you are behind, it can be tough to catch up with the leaders because the races are very short with quick gybes. I really couldn’t catch Mathis throughout the race. He had excellent speed. Then, at the last gybe, Mathis fell, his board went one way, and he went the other. I was then able to slip into the first position and take the lead.” 

Elimination Round four saw Titouan drop back in the fleet and Camille Bouyer take centre stage. Camille was on fire during the Final Elimination Round of the day, setting himself apart from the fleet. 

Currently, Camille Boyer and Titouan Gallea finished extremely close the difference being a single discard position which left Titouan ahead.

Tutouan Galea riding at Mondial Du Vent
Tutouan Galea reigning GWA wingfoil World Champion
Hectic days at GWA Leucate

For many of the competitors, this was their first time racing so naturally there were a few false starts and miscalculations in the beginning. Nevertheless, competitors quickly got into the swing of things picking up the pace throughout the rounds.

New rider to the tour, Alan Fedit (FRA) shared his experience of his first time competing in Surf- Slalom with us.

 “The fleet is so fast. When you are not used to riding amongst that many people, the pressure to stay on the board and not crash is pretty high! You don’t want to fall off and lose your place but you also don’t want to fall off and mess up the race for everyone else. It’s a lot to think about and you have to take calculated risks.”

Although the wind had a slight drop at lunch, we were still able to get through four elimination rounds of the men and seven elimination rounds of the women.

The final standings for todays Surf-Slalom are as follows: 

Womens: 

  1. Flora Artzner 
  2. Fiona Wylde
  3. Paula Novotna

Mens:

  1. Titouan Galea 
  2. Camille Bouyer 
  3. Clément Colmas

 

The forecast is also showing promise for tomorrow (Saturday) so we will be moving on to start the Surf-Freestyle competition in both the mens and womens.

Sunrise Leucate
Stunning sunrise start
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