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Stakes raised in Dakhla as surf action hots up

Battle for first men’s wingfoil wave world title still wide open in Morocco as athletes find a new gear

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Dakhla Presented by Armstrong Foils
Oum Lamboiur, Westpoint
22 September—01 October, 2023

The showdown for the first world title in the wave discipline that will be decided at the GWA Wingfoil World Cup Dakhla Presented by Armstrong Foils intensified as the action ramped up in Morocco.

But the title fight is still wide open with a handful of athletes capable of lifting the crown as the wave discipline in the pure surfing contest discovered new levels on the right-hand pointbreak at Dakhla Westpoint.

On the second day of the world cup in Dakhla, the third and concluding stop of the wave discipline on the GWA Wingfoil World Tour, the men again took to the water and began to fill the quarter-final berths.

The compact women’s fleet of five athletes will get a chance to choose their world champion in the coming days. It is a straight fight between the US’s Moona Whyte and Spain’s Nia Suardiaz, 16, who are neck-and-neck in the standings with one win apiece. Whoever finishes in Dakhla ahead, wins the crown.

Narrow defeat

Day two of competition saw the men’s numbers whittled down from the starting 25, with a few unexpected casualties in the difficult early conditions as the swell took time to build.

France’s Benoît Carpentier, who took a second place at the opening wave stop in Cape Verde, was dispatched by a narrow margin by his fellow countryman, Tom Auber. Carpentier was ranked second and was in the running for the title.

By contrast Hugo Marin (FRA), the top ranked rider, had narrow escapes in two heats. The second win in round three against James Jenkins (USA) kept Marin’s title chances alive as it helped him to the quarter finals.

Just three quarter-finals’ places remain to be decided at the start of day three. But the other slots were occupied by riders who put in such stellar shifts, it seems impossible to call who will take the event and perhaps even the title.

Upped the stakes

The young Corsican rider Noé Cuyala came out charging and rode out of his skin. The 16-year-old sensation racked up the biggest wave score—9.07 out of 10—and heat total to that point, exploiting better swells and growing breezes.

“I’m so happy, because I did everything I wanted to do,” said Cuyala. “The swell was definitely better than it was earlier in the day. I got three good sets; the wind was good. I think I needed the ‘airs’ and the ‘360’ to get the 9.0 wave. I think they’re obligatory in this competition to have any hope.”

Cuyala set the tone. Cape Verde’s Wesley Brito, the winner of the first stop in Ponta Preta and another title contender, took up the challenge. He upped the stakes when he grabbed the top wave score with a 9.33 wave, marked by powered and fluid carving, spiced up with ‘airs’.

But then the US 17-year-old, Cash Berzolla, burst on to the stage. The beaten finalist in the second stop in Rio de Janeiro, raised the wingfoil wave riding bar with an utterly spellbinding performance that ended the run of his room-mate, Vinnicius Martins (BRA).

League of his own

His perfect 10-point ride included a stunning ‘360 gybe’, ‘airs’ and carving that put him in a league of his own. Another 9.37 wave took his heat total to 19.37 and put down a ominous marker for rivals as he advances to the quarters.

“It can’t get much better than that,” said Berzolla. “I’m stoked. My first two waves were my best. I just try to mix it up on the wave and get in the groove. When I’m having fun that’s when I do my best. Vinni [Martins] is my room-mate, so maybe I’ll have to sleep with one eye open tonight.”

France’s Malo Guénolé, 18, who beat Berzolla in Rio to take the win, could not quite match the feats of the young American. But Guénolé’s heat total of 16.03 out of 20 was more than enough to end the strong run of compatriot, Julien Rattotti, and go the quarter finals.

Day three of the competition will see us reach the business end of the battles and perhaps crown our winners and world champions. Join us here for all the action.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Lukas K Stiller

Event information

  • Location: Oum Lamboiur, Westpoint, Dakhla
  • Dates: 22 September—01 October
  • The official Race Notice and event schedule can be found here.
  • All event information here.

Find everything about GWA Wingfoil World Cup Dakhla Presented by Armstrong Foils 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 the competition day.

Spot Info: Dakhla Westpoint
Dakhla Westpoint at the point where the hotel is situated. The town sits on the edge of the Sahara desert. North-westerly swells wrap around the point producing a long right-handed break with hollow sections that run into the sandy bay. The northerly breezes can be tricky under the point, but punchy and strong on the inside towards the beach. Westpoint is on the end of a long promontory at the head of Dakhla’s shallow, flatwater lagoon, which gets breezes of 20 to 30 knots nearly all year round

Dakhla at the end of September/early October has a dry climate. The air temperature during day can be between 24°C the highest temperatures and lowest of 18°C. The water temperature of the sea is around 20°C, so bringing a wetsuit is recommended. Sunrise is approximately 08.00h and sunset is 20.00h.

North winds blow side offshore at Westpoint with 15 to 25 knots.

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