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Malo Guenole signs off 2023 with final victory

Rivals deliver spectacular final as day two wraps up with event winners crowned

Copa Kitley GWA Wingfoil World Cup Brazil 2023
Cauipe, 21–24 November

From the first heat until the last, the focus on day two was to wrap up and crown the men’s Surf-Freestyle event winner here in Brazil.

Yesterday saw better swell, with the waves a little cleaner, however, today brought a slightly smaller swell but with stronger wind. By the end of the day it was Malo Guenole (FRA) who grabbed the title with both hands to finish the Surf-Freestyle season on a high.

Rivals battle one last time

We’ve been no strangers to seeing Malo Guenole (FRA) and Christopher MacDonald (USA) in finals. Once again Cauipe saw the pair battle it out for one last fight. Guenole, who has been faultless all competition, this time managed to get the upper hand and take the title at the last stop in 2023. The Frenchman beat MacDonald by less than an point, but the athletes traded hits right until the end.

MacDonald fired out the gates, with two huge freestyle manoeuvres which included the highest-scoring trick of the heat, a 9.20 Frontside 1080. Although Guenole didn’t score above an 8, (which hadn’t happened in all previous heats), his combined score narrowly edged out MacDonald. Guenole’s last wave of a 7.50 was the final nail in the coffin. 

“Super fun against my good buddy Malo. I was so tired the entire time but I tried my best. I’m really happy with my improvement in the waves, and hopefully I can do better next time,” said MacDonald, gracious in defeat. 

Guenole was equally modest in victory. “My final was pretty stressful,” he said. “I missed all my tricks but then managed to get my rhythm back. Of course my goal is to win every event, so I’m super stoked to win this one”

Fell at final hurdle 

During the semi-finals, Clement Hamon (FRA) fell short to his teammate, Guenole. Hamon’s Frontside 1080 still wasn’t enough to push himself into his first-ever GWA final as Guenole, looking comfortable on the water, scored highly in freestyle and the waves. 

During the second semi-final, it was neck-and-neck between Bastien Escofet (FRA) and MacDonald. The two traded blows left and right as the heat went down to the bitter final seconds. Escofet, unfortunately, fell short with MacDonald landing a 6.77 for his last wave, which pushed him over the line. 

Escofet then met teammate Hamon for a third-place showdown. Flying the French flag in Brazil, the two riders pushed each other until the last seconds. Hamon started strong, landing two solid freestyle tricks he was then able to focus on the waves. His Backmobe came in at 7.93. However, Bastien had other ideas. Having strived for this trick in previous heats, Escofet landed a perfect 10-pointer for his Backmobe 360, a first-ever in the competition. That trick, along with his others, gave Escofet third place.

Chaotic quarter-finals 

The quarter-finals had it all. By that point the riders were treating every heat like it was the final. With the level sky-high, the standout performances went to Guenole  who dismantled Balz Müller (SUI), scoring a whopping 32.56, out of a possible 40, ending the Swiss rider’s run.

Escofet also managed to move past talented wave rider, Kauli Seadi (BRA), in a close-knit quarter. By that point, Seadi was the last man standing for the Brazilians and unfortunately for them, was unable to overcome the powerful French rider.

Pair’s early exit

In unlikely early losses, Axel Gerard (FRA) and Alan Fedit (FRA) both suffered early Round 5 exits. The two French riders, who’ve occupied the top spots in many events, had to watch the remainder of the competition from the shore. 

Fedit was defeated by up-and-coming talent, Aleksanda Archer (AUT). Archer was not fazed when facing the current world number three, and the Austrian’s Frontside 7 and early Combo, combined with two wave scores, were enough to make it into the quarter-finals. Fedit, whose disappointment was obvious, will look to discard this result to hold his third spot in the world rankings.

World number four, Gerard will also hope to discard his result. Gerard lost to Seadi, whose exquisite wave riding landed two big scores. The mixed format plays into the hands of Kauli, who is one of the top wave riders in the fleet.

With the men’s Surf-Freestyle wrapped for the event, all focus will now shifts to the women’s Surf-Freestyle, where tomorrow will see us crown the event winner in this discipline. After patiently waiting on the sidelines, will Nia Suardiaz (ESP) take home yet another event win after confirming the world title in Tarifa? Or can one of the other athletes shake things up?

words: Liam Dredge
images: Svetlana Romantsova

Copa Kitley GWA Wingfoil World Cup Brazil
Men’s Surf-Freestyle results

1 Malo Guenole (FRA)
2 Christopher MacDonald (USA)
3 Bastien Escofet (FRA)
4 Clement Hamon (FRA)

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