Report: Sasha Jade / All photos: Samuel Cardenas / Video: Mintautas Grigas
We had a bit of a rainy start to day 2 here in Leucate at Mondial du Vent. The wind is taking its time to wake up, but the riders were engaged from the get-go, taking advantage of this time to propose their suggestions on the judging criteria, ensuring everyone is on the same page before they hit the water.
There was an exciting tone to the skippers meeting this morning, as the riders have the unique opportunity to influence where this new sport goes.
Many interesting points were arising that one may not have considered whilst entering the sport from a different discipline.
We hear statements such as: “I come from kitesurfing” “I come from windsurfing” as the riders introduce their propositions, remaining respectfully aware they are entering Wingfoiling from respective disciplines.
The tone remained open-minded. “It’s just a metaphor of what the sport can represent. It can represent flatware and freestyle. Both can be dancing.” -Henning Nockel (GER) highlights as he makes his proposition.
The judges are not only welcoming but encouraged propositions. “We’re actually trying to put together the new committee for the GWA Wingfoil World tour. It’s important to have riders with different backgrounds on the committee come together and agree on a common boundary as this is a sport for everyone.” – Joe Ciastula (Voice of the GWA Tour)
By the end of the meeting, everyone came to the conclusion that it’s important that no background empowers another for the progression of the sport to remain as limitless as possible, and agreed on rules that worked best for everyone.
“Every event there will be new tricks and we will adapt. We don’t want to talk about any base score yet as there are no base tricks. We do however have a base score for the execution of the tricks.” – Mallory de la Villemarqué (GWA Head judge)
With the wind not blowing to distract the riders, we had the chance to pick their brains and ask them what wingfoiling is all about.
And who better start with than a rider who has been present in the evolution of watersports sports since 1994.
Antoine Albeau the French windsurfer who holds twenty-five Windsurfing World Championships in different disciplines. But the waterman doesn’t stop there.
He’s proven many times there are no boundaries on the water. From breaking all–category world wind-powered sailing speed records, to windsurfing across channels to tow-surfing Teahupoo back in 1998.
He was the first man to introduce a foil to his windsurfing setup, so when windsurfing entered his radar as one would imagine, he didn’t hesitate to get on it.
“I’ll never forget, it was winter 2019 in Maui in a lagoon when the wing came. I saw, and I said sh*t I want to try this!” And by next summer he had his own gear.
Although Antoine is a big competitor, he didn’t come here to win. He came here to promote this new possibility of enjoying the water.
“It’s hard to say where Wingfoiling will go, but it’s really easy to try. Almost anyone can go and manipulate this little wing. It’s not as intimidating as the big kite or sail from windsurfing. I think people will do it and try it. And what I love is that these sports bring people to the water to enjoy, and release the stress of the day….We are professional. We are lucky to be all the time on the water doing what we do. But we have to know that a lot of people are working, and only can enjoy the ocean during their holidays.” – highlight’s Antoine.
Marcella Witt (Brazilian kitesurfer and surfer) was drawn to Wingfoiling so she could spend more time on the water in all the conditions. But it’s not just the conditions. She continued to highlight how Wingfoiling also allows us to play with the water in places one never considered.
“Normally I’m not able to kite in offshore wind, and now I can do it! For the first time, I was wing foiling in Shakawa, Mexico! I think this sport can discover a lot of new places. We can go everywhere. We can do whatever we want.” – passionately shares Marcella.
The current champion Balz Muller (CHE) seems to be excited about a different perspective of possibilities this sport allows.
Not so much the conditions, nor the places but the body itself.
Although he is also an experienced windsurfer, it appears he has more land sports (snowboarding, skiing, skateboarding, etc.) prevalent in his background than most riders, which could be a reason he’s targeted his focus on body movement.
When we asked him which sport he practiced has influenced his Wingfoiling the most he replied:
“It definitely helps to understand the wind, but it also really helps to know how to move your body. I’m also a great trampoline jumper so I’m sure that influences my Wingfoiling! At the moment I see no limit coming up. When I’m going to bed my brain is spinning thinking about new figures I want to try!”
Although they come to Wingfoiling from different entries and are moving to different rhythms, they all have found freedom here. The endless possibilities we can discover in nature never fails to spark inspiration.
Around 2.00 pm things started to brighten up around here. Blue skies were peeping through the clouds, and windmills were moving far away in the mountains.
The riders were instantly out towing about, getting warmed up on the water, once again, making the most of the conditions with the tools they have as they know more than anyone; it’s always a good time spent in the ocean.
Unfortunately, the winds never reached the shores of Leucate. The waiting game for the wind continues here at Mondial du Vent, but the riders remind us that game only stops when you stop playing whilst they continue to enjoy the ocean and keep the spirits high for the rest of the event.
The sun showed its light today, hopefully, the wind will show its power tomorrow! The forecast looks promising for the weekend.
We’ll be kicking off tomorrow with the daily Skippers meeting at 9.00 am with a first possible start at 10.00 am (CET).