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New wingfoil discipline in epic waves

Young guns and legends thrilled to battle for glory in ground-breaking contest on famed Ponta Preta break

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Cape Verde 2023—Day One

The world’s leading wingfoilers opened their accounts in a ground-breaking new surfing discipline in the first elimination rounds of the GWA Wingfoil World Cup on the Cape Verde island of Sal.

Few of the athletes, who were excited to be part of the innovative pure wave format, could think of a better spot than the legendary Ponta Preta break to begin the new chapter in wingfoil’s evolution.

The right hand break poses challenges for the 31 men and 10 women, from 10 nations, including the youngest athlete, 13-year-old Briton, Leon Shiel. The rocky point claimed a few of the riders who overcooked a wave and found themselves tumbling in the foam.

But most were pleasantly surprised that it was possible to surf the Ponta Preta break well on a wingfoil. All acknowledged that pushing them out of their comfort zone had raised the wingfoil bar and opened up new possibilities.

“Amazing spot”

With such a new discipline, the race director opted to run a seeding round on the first day of the competition. It was necessary discover the level with so many fresh faces, either converts from other watersports or young guns who only know wingfoil but have little competition exposure.

The opening elimination rounds saw the contest begin to get serious, starting with the men’s competition. The two-man, 20-minute heats threatened ejection for some. With Ponta Preta delivering another full day of wind and building swells, the men’s competition, studded with mouth-watering surf action, reached the quarter final stage.

Fifteen-year-old Noe Cuyala (FRA) battled his way through two heats, casting aside Brazil’s Yuri Johannes and then his compatriot, Axel Gerard, 14, in a tight heat with barely half a point separating them. Cuyala was delighted by his progress in the new competition.

“This is an amazing spot, probably the best ‘right’ in the world,” said Cuyala. “I love this wave. We’re so happy to have the wave competition, and we’re so lucky to have the first one here. It’s so exciting because we don’t know where this sport will go. It’s advancing really, really fast. We have huge potential.”

Highest wave score

Frenchman Julien Bouyer took full advantage of the conditions. He got one of the day’s highest wave scores—9.50 from a possible 10. His heat total of 17.20 sent his fellow countryman Chucho Nonnot home.

Bouyer also beat three-time windsurfing world champion Kauli Seadi in the next round in a close heat. The Frenchman was thrilled by the chance to compete in such legendary waves.

“I had a great heat,” he said. “This is just the best place ever. We’re so lucky to have this competition in this spot. It’s really great to have a competition which is purely for surfing.”

Another Frenchman, Clement Roseyro, also put up strong performances to advance to the quarter finals, past Arthur Thebault and former Surf-Freestyle world champion, Titouan Galea. A surfer at heart, he is stoked with the new tour.

“Going to get smashed”

“For me this tour is the best thing we can have,” he said. “I’ve been surfing for the past 10 years, so having a great wave like this is perfect. At the start I was scared to ride the wing in Ponta Preta. I thought I was going to get smashed. But it’s quite easy. It’s so exciting to be part of this competition here, in waves, in such a great spot.”

Zane Schweitzer, a renowned waterman from the US, brought his full competition experience to bear to easily reach the quarter finals. He, too, feels privileged to be in at the beginning of something new.

“My heart is in the waves; any event with waves,” said Schweitzer. “It’s amazing to see all these youngsters coming up. It’s so exciting to be at the forefront of this new sport. I’m so grateful to be forging the path.”

On day three we will move through the quarter finals of the men’s competition and begin the women’s rounds before, hopefully, moving to the finals. Stay tuned and join us for all the action.

Event Information

  • Location: Sal Island, Cape Verde
  • Dates: 17-27 March
  • The official Race Notice and event schedule can be found here.
  • All event information is here.

Stay on top of everything about the event in Cape Verde by clicking event news.

Liveticker will be updated throughout the day. Event highlight video will be published next morning. Written reports will be posted to the website at the end of each competition day.

words: Ian MacKinnon
pictures: Lukas K Stiller

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