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Intense early battles on course in Hvide Sande

Tour leaders in pole position for wins that keep them on track to close out world titles in Denmark

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Denmark 2023
Hvide Sande, 03—09 September

The opening rounds in the FreeFly-Slalom discipline at the GWA Wingfoil World Cup Denmark saw the tour leaders come out on top, putting them in pole position for wins in Hvide Sande.

Spain’s Nia Suardiaz slipped up in the first elimination round of the day when she could only manage a second place. It was only a temporary blip and she went on take the next six-from-six contests.

An overall victory in Hvide Sande would land her the FreeFly-Slalom world title, doubling up on the Surf-Freestyle crown that she won on day one of the world cup that is playing out on the North Sea.

The French rider, Titouan Galea, also topped the standings after five elimination rounds on day four of the competition. His path to the top was marked by a day of ups and downs, but it keeps him on track to win the FreeFly-Slalom world title.

Testing pump track

Following two days of light and uncontestable breezes, the athletes again had an early start to make the most wind and have a chance of getting a FreeFly-Slalom result in Denmark.

Shortly after dawn the women’s elimination rounds opened the action. The 10-leg course, with a triangle and “pump track”, tested the athletes to the full. Shifty and gusty offshore breezes made life difficult for the riders.

But the French rider Kylie Belloeuvre opened her account with a win in the first race of the day. She kept the pressure on, landing four second places in the day’s seven elimination rounds. That earned her a second place on the leaderboard, behind Suardiaz, and keeps her in the hunt for a podium place.

“It was a good day for me,” said Belloeuvre. “It was crazy. It was intense, for sure. The wind is light, but I like the format. The pump track was super-long. It’s so exhausting. We really had to put some power into it, and I took advantage of that. I’m really happy with the way I raced.”

Standout performer

Orane Ceris (FRA) sits in third spot and was happy to get the day over by mid-morning when the wind dropped and the race director released the women for the day.

“The wind was shifty and gusty and the pump track was about 1km long,” said Ceris, exaggerating for effect. “I didn’t complete the pump track even once. I fell every time. But it’s OK.”

The men battled on longer. France’s Julien Rattotti, who has focused on FreeFly-Slalom, was one of the day’s standouts and earned a second place and three third-place finishes from the five elimination rounds.

“This morning was a good morning for me,” said Rattotti, the GWA Big Air World Champion. “I’m happy about it and I hope there’s more to come. I’m not really surprised, because I trained a lot with the team. My first race wasn’t good, but after that little warm up, it was good. The conditions were a little light, but I’m not heavy.

Among the honours

The Italian 17-year-old Riccardo Zorzi got himself among the honours with a win in the day’s third elimination round. That win helped him to fourth in the standings, just behind his fellow countryman, Francesco Cappuzzo, thanks to his win in round four.

“To be honest it was not my best day; a lot of ups and downs,” said Cappuzzo. “Just before the fifth elimination round I was leading the event. I was feeling good and Titouan Galea was quite far behind. But after the previous race, he opted to change his wing and got a slight advantage on the start. I fought back, but he got it.”

Galea was buoyed by his performance, which was helped hugely when he was able to discard his worst score after the fourth elimination round.

“I managed to win the first two elimination rounds,” said Galea. “But in the third one I had a really bad start. I was maybe down in eight on the first reach and I fell in the triangle, attacking under everyone. I fell off the foil and ended up last. On the short track it’s pretty much about the start.”

Tune tomorrow in for more FreeFly-Slalom action here.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Lukas K Stiller

Spot info: Hvide Sande

Hvide Sande is a town in central western Denmark, set among the Holmsland dunes. It is focused on an artificial canal that joins Ringkjøbing fjord with the North Sea. It has two cable parks and a kite school. One of the biggest attractions is climbing up the Lyngvig lighthouse to take in the spectacular views of the flatlands around Hvide Sande.

Hvide Sande has a northern European climate, so weather conditions are rather mild in August. The air temperature during day can be between 20°C at the highest temperatures, and the lowest of 11°C. The water temperature of the North Sea is around 16°C, so bringing a wetsuit, and a jacket is recommended. Sunrise is 06.30h and sunset is 20.30h.

Wind direction is westerly winds blowing 15-35 knots, which are onshore at the spot. Easterly winds can also blow around 12-25 knots, which are offshore at the spot.

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