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Teenage freestyle winners crowned in Gran Canaria

  • Chris MacDonald looks unstoppable as he lifts the crown with off-the-charts riding in nuking Pozo Izquierdo winds

  • Nia Suardiaz takes the victory in a thrilling duel that keeps her world title hopes on track

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Gran Canaria
Pozo Izquierdo, 11–16 July, 2023

The US’s Chris MacDonald and Spain’s Nia Suardiaz were untouchable as they landed the Surf-Freestyle titles in the climactic finale of the GWA Wingfoil World Cup in Gran Canaria, Spain.

Seventeen-year-old MacDonald barely put a foot wrong in his final in almost 40 knots wind, landing all his tricks that included a world first in competition—an incredible triple Combination of a Back Flip into double Frontside 3s.

Suardiaz, 16, was similarly dominant even though she had to keep her composure after opening the first of her seven trick attempts with a crash in the difficult conditions with most of the women fighting to hold their smallest 2m2 wings.

The pair were greeted by jubilant well-wishers as they scrambled up the rocky shore after their finals. For Suardiaz, it seemed an emotional moment after she was told of her victory, which came a day after she lost in the final of the Big Air contest in a surprise upset.

The sixth and final day of the GWA Wingfoil World Cup—which made its debut at the windsurfing “bunker” Pozo Izquierdo—closed out the Surf-Freestyle competition.

Tense affair

The winners in the FreeFly-Slalom discipline, Titouan Galea (FRA) and Suardiaz, had already been crowned along with the victors in the maiden wingfoil Big Air World Championships, Julien Rattotti (FRA) and Mar de Arce Sánchez (ESP).

Rattotti also picked up the Red Bull Rockets Award for the highest jump across the whole competition, with a leap of 11.2 metres made in the Big Air final. Suardiaz also won for her jump of 6.3 metres in the Big Air competition.

But in Surf-Freestyle, the best was saved for last. In the semi-finals of the women’s competition, New Caledonia-based Orane Ceris came up against Bowien van der Linden (NED). Ceris seemed comfortable in the conditions and her big Back Flip that got 8.53 from the judges and ended the Dutchwoman’s run.

Suardiaz got the better of Poland’s Agata Blach in the second semi-final, but with just over one point separating the pair at the end, the Spaniard had to be on her game to get the win.

The women’s final was a tense affair. When Suardiaz crashed her first trick, it left the door open for Ceris who accepted the invitation and began her heat with a a big 8.77 Back Flip that she had dialled in earlier.

Wilted under assault

If that turned up the heat on Suardiaz, she did not show it. The teenager answered with her own clean Back Flip and then built her heat total with a Toeside Frontside 3 and a Back Loop that gave her the win.

In the men’s semi-finals, the French 15-year-old Axel Gerard came up against Germany’s Benjamin May, who had dispatched Surf-Freestyle world champion Malo Guénolé in the previous round.

But May wilted under the assault of the young French rider. Even May’s huge Front Flips that had been the highlight of the Big Air contest were not enough as Gerard scored 8.73 for a Back Flip Frontside 3 and piled on the pain with a Frontside 10 for 9.13.

France’s Alan Fedit, the Surf-Freestyle tour leader, came up against the wingfoil sensation that is Chris MacDonald in the other semi-final. Fedit chalked up some big scores, but MacDonald was on fire, as he has been throughout the contest, and took the win to head to the final.

Mouthwatering prospect

The showdown between the two teenage wingfoil prodigies, Gerard and MacDonald, was a mouthwatering prospect. Both came out out of the gate fast, but MacDonald was relentless and opened up a gap.

Under pressure from MacDonald’s barrage of tricks, Gerard seemed to fade, though he netted 7.77 for an Innovation trick and 7.53 for a Trailing Edge Back Flip.

But elsewhere in the competition box MacDonald was utterly remarkable and in a league of his own. Just mentioning the highlights gives some sense of how incredible.

MacDonald opened with 8.70 for a Combo, then 9.17 for a Front Flip Frontside 3, 9.87 for Frontside 10, 8.83 for a Back Flip Frontside 3, and 9.97 for the “world first” triple Combo. Then he threw in another Frontside 10, though that did not better his earlier score, but still he had a total of 29.01 out of a possible 30.

What a way to finish a remarkable event in Gran Canaria. The tour now moves to neighbouring Fuerteventura for another round of Surf-Freestyle and FreeFly Slalom. Join us on July 21 for all the action.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Lukas K Stiller

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Gran Canaria results

Surf-Freestyle Men
1 Christopher MacDonald (USA)
2 Axel Gerard (FRA)
3 Alan Fedit (FRA)
4 Benjamin May (GER)

Surf-Freestyle Women
1 Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
2 Orane Ceris (FRA)
3 Bowien van der Linden (NED)
4 Agata Blach (POL)

FreeFly-Slalom Men
1 Titouan Galea (FRA)
2 Francesco Cappuzzo (ITA)
3 Alan Fedit (FRA)

FreeFly-Slalom Women
1 Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
2 Flora Artzner (FRA)
3 Orane Ceris (FRA)

Big Air Men
1 Julien Rattotti (FRA)
2 Benjamin May (GER)
3 Titouan Galea (FRA)
4 Malo Guénolé (FRA)

Big Air Women
1 Mar de Arce Sánchez (ESP)
2 Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
3 Agata Blach (POL)
4 Orane Ceris (FRA)

Red Bull Rockets Award

Julien Rattotti 11.2m

Nia Suardiaz 6.3m

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