Template: common/main-header.twig

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Leucate 2021 | 3, 2, 1, ACTION!

Saturday 1st of May

Report: Sasha Jade / All photos: Samuel Cardenas / Video: Mintautas Grigas

We had a sopping wet morning here in Leucate, with a thrilling 8 degrees Celsius, the perfect temperature to chill the riders nerves before their heats.

But the rain certainly didn’t dampen the mood as finally…THE WIND ARRIVED! 

Competitors made their way to the beach nice and early, croissants in mouths and suited up in an extra layer or two to the 8am skippers meeting held at the shore.  

After checking the racecourse the head judge and race director agreed on the same setup they put together the previous day, ensuring a smooth & speedy start to todays competition. With the call for a first possible start at 9.00 am, the athletes began to strap in as they knew a long day lay ahead of them. 

You can really spot the difference here on the beach of the riders who have been locked down in training in the tropics to the troopers who’ve come straight from the icy lakes of Switzerland. Will this be a disadvantage in the water? Balz Muller (CHE) makes it look like it confidently standing in his shortie. 

It’s was a tough morning here in Leucate. There was a cold NW blowing 20kts gusting to 25kts, increasing throughout the day and unexpected torrential rains making it hard to see the signal flags from the ocean and hear the judges call . With no shelter, the riders found shelter beneath their Wings between heats. 

We raced through the men’s Surf-Race heats in the first 2 hours of the day. There were a few restarts to the heats, unsurprisingly. The challenging conditions made it especially hard for the riders to time their start.

“Wow the wind picked up, it’s gnarly, it’s scary out there but I’m excited to see what it brings. We all have to change down to smaller wings! Wind picked up, it’s gnarly! Strong gusts! It’s Crazy, it’s a fast course, strong winds… ooooh I’m excited.”Balz Muller (CHE)  reports back with shivers of excitement.

The judges have decided to only run one round today of the Women’s Surf-Race discipline, as they want to take advantage of the gnarly conditions for freestyle! By 11:30 both men’s and women’s finalists had raced their way to the top. 

Top 10 Men: 

  1. T. Galea
  2. B. Müller
  3. C. Bouyer
  4. M. Chabloz
  5. J. Estredo
  6. F. Cappuzzo
  7. H. Marin
  8. J. Bouyer
  9. K. Voget
  10. L. Carlier-Arquoit

Top 8 Women

  1. O. Piana
  2. B. van de Linden
  3. F. Artzner
  4. P. Novotna
  5. M. Huvermann
  6. M.Witt
  7. C. Cornez
  8. M. Mattia

As the wind continues to howl, it’s time for the Men’s Surf-Freestyle to begin! With the record breaking amount of men registered for this competition there will not be enough time to get through to the finals in the same day, so the judges kindly released the women for the rest of the day allowing them to restore the feeling in their toes for tomorrow! 

Looks like they were completely satisfied with that call. 

“OMG it’s 12degrees its raining its PERFECT conditions and that was SO MUCH FUN! I want to do more races! But I’m freezing so I also want to go to the Jacuzzi!” Paula Novotna (CZE) shares the continuous conflict athletes feel when riding in gnarly conditions. It may be cold, but man it’s worth it. 

For the Surf-Freestyle judging criteria, judges decided on using the Dingle-Elimination. 

This means nobody is eliminated in round 1. The winner of the heat advances straight to round 3, leaving the 2nd and 3rd places another chance to battle it out in round 2 to stay in the game. 

With 6 minute heats and 3 minute transitions riders had to remain on their toes! 

Competitors had a maximum of 15 trick attempts, of which judges will count the best 4. 

The wind is tricky. Off-shore, gusty and flat so it doesn’t help for tricks. But the warriors persevere throughout the day, whipping high scoring tricks out their back pockets! 

Titouan Galea (NCA) flipped the judges out with one of his famous backflips 7.57 – first one of the day! Balz turned the heat up a notch on the last heat of round landing an impressive Blind Frontside 360, FS 360, TS 360 FS, and a high scoring Backloop giving him an overall score of 25.57!!

It’s not easy in these conditions folks. 

The wind really kicked in by round two and the height got bigger! The riders are giving all they got here at Mondial Du Vent. Looks like depriving the athletes from action for a couple of days has it’s advantages! We saw some amazing Raily’s being tweaked, multiple rotations being added to spins, new one-footers and grabs… The competitors really add a variety to their tricks, focusing more on quality than quantity. 

Local Rider Nico Akgazcyan (FRA) pulled the first front flip ever attempted in a competition scoring a 7.8! He is ripping his home spot well! 

“I feel much more comfortable in the the strong wind so I was so happy when it kicked in as I was starting to get worried!” – Nico confirms, as he uses these conditions to his advantage. 

Whilst others from warmer destinations are struggling to keep their muscles warm as they wait between heats! 

It’s warmer inside the water, that’s why I crashed all the time.” sarcastically laughs Maxime Chabloz (SWI) as he came to take shelter behind the media container. Looks like the chills even got to our mountain man!

By 16.00 pm the wind that had been persisting all week made its final breakthrough, blowing the rain away and the riders to new heights in the final round of the day.  It’s a bird, it’s a plane, oh no its Golito Estredo (VEN) the guy in the sky! Looks like the Venezuelan rider restored the heat in his toes.

It’s luck of the draw here in competitions. With such unpredictable conditions you never know what you’re up against until the moment before your heat. 

“I like seeing massive tricks being pulled in the heat before me. There is only a limit of an amount of people that have proven themselves really good competitors. Which decreases the chances of them being in your heat!” – shares Chablot.

Over the course of the day the riding became more consistent. Titouan Galea (NCA) continued to flip his way up and over breaking his previous backflip score with a staggering 8.67!  Klaas Voget (GER) showing multiple variations of moves with crazy innovations scoring him one of the highest scores of the day (18.23). But Balz came back and wrapped up the day with a powerful BackLoop scoring 9.37 – sending him home with a 26.53, the highest score yet!

After making their way through round 3, the riders were released, after a long wet day here in Leucate. The riders needed to rest their body after 9 hours of heat and cold therapy they endured over the rounds.

The competitors all left the beach still flying with windblown eyes and smiles plastered across their faces as they head home. 

As they say, the longer the wait – the greater the reward! 

Tomorrow the action continues with a first possible start at 8:30 AM , and it looks like the sun will be out for the women’s Surf-Freestyle skills to shine!  Stay tuned. 

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Leucate 2021 | Day One
Image for Champions celebrate debut wins in Leucate

Champions celebrate debut wins in Leucate

Reigning champions maintain their dominance in both the FreeFly-Slalom and Surf-Freestyle disciplines

Read this article
Image for Leucate hosts historic 27th Mondial du Vent event

Leucate hosts historic 27th Mondial du Vent event

After days filled with adrenaline and excitement on the water, athletes take a breather to discover the local area, soaking in the beauty and culture of this charming place

Read this article
Image for Suardiaz soars to success clinching victory in FreeFly-Slalom

Suardiaz soars to success clinching victory in FreeFly-Slalom

Cappuzzo and Suardiaz hold strong in the FreeFly-Slalom Discipline and come out victorious

Read this article
Image for Surf-Freestyle World Champions defend their titles in Leucate

Surf-Freestyle World Champions defend their titles in Leucate

Suardiaz and MacDonald defend their Surf-Freestyle titles with outstanding performances

Read this article