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GWA Youth World Cup – Oliva, Spain

Teen Stars Continue Winning Ways with Victories at First Youth World Cup in Spain

23-26 June 2022

Words: Ian MacKinnon

Photos: Antonio Herrera Trujillo

Spain’s Nia Suardiaz and the US’s Christopher MacDonald cemented their standings as some of wingfoiling’s hottest young talents with wins at the maiden GWA Youth World Cup stop at Oliva on the Costa Blanca.

Fifteen-year-old Suardiaz saw off challenges from older rivals to take wins in the girls’ U19 Surf-Freestyle and Surf-Slalom contests on home waters. She has already tasted success on the senior GWA Wingfoil World Tour (WWT), with an amazing Surf-Freestyle victory at the opening stop in Leucate, France, in April.

MacDonald, 16, beat stiff competition throwing down risky and technical tricks in the boys’ U19 Surf-Freestyle to secure the win in Oliva. Just a week ago he landed a remarkable Surf-Freestyle win at the WWT’s second stop in Silvaplana, Switzerland.

FAST-RISING RIVALS

But the pair’s podium-topping feats at Oliva were also matched by stand-out performances from a clutch of other young riders who carved out wins in the U14 and U16 categories. The fast-rising level of rivals shows the duo will not be able to rest on their laurels.

The four-day event run by the Spain Wing Foil Tour was the opening stop of the GWA Youth Wingfoil World Tour. A second event is slated for France in October, after which the overall winners will be crowned Youth World Champions in the U14, U16, and U19 divisions in Surf-Slalom and Surf-Freestyle.

The Oliva World Cup stop drew a strong roster of young athletes from around the world. Thirty-three riders—29 boys and four girls—travelled to Spain from 10 countries and three continents. The boys’ group boasted the youngest riders, two aged just eight.

GREEK RIDER TAKES CROWN

The scheduled four days of competition were ultimately compressed into a little more than two. On the closing day, the usually reliable thermal breeze refused to show up. Much of the opening day’s useable breeze was lost when a poor course choice and tricky winds forced races to be postponed or abandoned.

But Greece’s Petros Kontarinis opened his account with a win in the U19 Surf-Slalom. With another win and a second in his group’s races, Kontarinis took the U19 crown. Spain’s Xavi Corr also took two wins from two in intense racing on days two and three, giving him the U16 victory. Luca Vuillermet (USA) matched that record in the U14 division, securing the overall win. Suardiaz was equally dominant in the girls’ U19 category where she took the top podium step.

TRADEMARK RALEYS

Suardiaz was also unbeatable in the girls’ U19 Surf-Freestyle, where she battled with the three other riders in a series of “finals”on day two and three. But the teenager’s huge, trademark “raleys” were too strong for her rivals’ tricks and gave her the win.

In the boys’ Surf-Freestyle the race director took the decision to adjust the format to a 12-person “dingle” with four riders facing-off in each heat because of fears the whole competition might not be completed for lack of wind.

But day three produced two dazzling semi-finals in the boys’ U16, with the two groups of four throwing down their best tricks. In the final, Axel Gerard (FRA) did not perform as well as his semi-final, while Clément Hamon had a solid outing. But the best tricks were performed by Xavi Corr and Noe Cuyala (FRA), who took first and second respectively.

AMERICAN HOLDS NERVE

In the boys’ U19 final Christopher MacDonald came up against Malo Guenole (FRA), Leewho Gabrieli (ISR) and Martin Tieles Sande (ESP).Gabrieli landed trick after trick and created a good overall impression.

Yet, Guenole and MacDonald were both taking chances with more risky, difficult and technical tricks. For MacDonald it was not paying off at the start of the climactic final as he was not scoring well on his landings. The victory appeared to be slipping from his grasp.

But amazingly the American kept his nerve and managed turn the heat around. He landed his best tricks toward the end of the heat and that was enough to give him the edge and take the win.

RESULTS: GWA YOUTH WORLD CUP, OLIVA, SPAIN

SURF-SLALOM: MALE U14

1 LUCA VUILLERMET (USA)

2 NATHAN BERGER (ESP)

3 LEON SCHIEL (GBR)

SURF-SLALOM: MALE U16

1 XAVIER CORR (ESP)

2 CLÉMENT HAMON (FRA)

3 NOE CUYALA (FRA)

SURF-SLALOM: MALE U19

1 PETROS KONTARINIS (GRE)

2 MALO GUENOLE (FRA)

3 CHRISTOPHER MacDONALD (USA)

SURF-SLALOM: FEMALE U19

1 NIA SUARDIAZ (ESP)

2 MADDALENA SPANU (ITA)

3 ISABEL TRIVIÑO (ESP)

SURF-FREESTYLE: MALE U14

1 EZIO BASTIANELLI (FRA)

2 LUCA VUILLERMET (USA)   

3 NATHAN BERGER (ESP)

SURF-FREESTYLE: MALE U16

1 XAVIER CORR (ESP)

2 NOE CUYALA (FRA)

3 CLÉMENT HAMON (FRA)

SURF-FREESTYLE: MALE U19

1 CHRISTOPHER MacDONALD (USA)

2 MALO GUENOLE (FRA)

3 LEEWHO GABRIELI (ISR)

SURF-FREESTYLE: FEMALE U19

1 NIA SUARDIAZ (ESP)

2 MADDALENA SPANU (ITA)

3 ISABEL TRIVIÑO (ESP)

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