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Teenager lands second world title in a week

  • Spain’s Nia Suardiaz clinches FreeFly-Slalom world title in Denmark ahead of final tour stop

  • Close battle in men’s contest goes down to the wire heading into final day in Hvide Sande

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

Spain’s Nia Suardiaz clinched her second world title in less than a week when she won the FreeFly-Slalom discipline at the GWA Wingfoil World Cup Denmark in Hvide Sande which gave her the coveted crown.

The remarkable 16-year-old athlete was so dominant she has won four of the five FreeFly-Slalom stops on this year’s GWA Wingfoil World Tour. Barely four days ago she won the Surf-Freestyle contest in Hvide Sande, which gave her the world title even with two world tour stops remaining.

“It feels really good to be world champion in both disciplines, FreeFly-Slalom and Surf-Freestyle,” said Suardiaz, as she came to the beach. “I didn’t really think that would be possible a year ago. But this year I was super-motivated. I’m so excited to win both of them. I’m so happy.”

The athletes had second early start on day five of the competition  to take advantage of the 8-15 knots of cross offshore breezes blowing over Hvide Sande’s beautiful dunes just after dawn.

Even more dominant

Suardiaz was the overnight leader after winning six rounds from seven on the opening day of the FreeFly-Slalom competition. If anything, the young Spaniard was even more dominant on the second day, winning seven-from-seven contests.

The course laid by the race director was a mirror image of the first day’s track. The 10-leg course, which featured a triangle with an upwind section and pump track, was designed to favour “regular” riders.

None of the alterations seemed to faze Suardiaz. She often led by the first mark and was especially strong in the pump “freefly” section, where riders must keep their wing in neutral, stretching her lead by the finish line.

The battles down the women’s order were tight. The fight for the second spot could hardly have been closer. French team mates Kylie Belloeuvre and Orane Ceris constantly swapped places and sit just a few points apart on the leaderboard. Belloeuvre was pleased with her second spot.

Disastrous collision

“I was feeling less comfortable today,” said Belloeuvre. “The startline was a port start and I’m a goofy rider, so it was a bit harder for me to get a good spot on the first reach. But the pump track was OK for me and I could overtake some others. I was happy that I managed to do it only falling off the foil once. I’m really happy about that.”

The men’s competition, where five elimination rounds were completed before the breeze began to falter by late morning, could not be any closer at the top of the other.

France’s Julien Rattotti, the GWA Big Air World Champion, cemented his third place in the standings with a first in one round and a clutch of consistently highly-placed finishes that give him a good chance of a podium finish.

Overnight leader Titouan Galea began slowly. His slender lead on the scoreboard slipped away in the battles on the water after his stuttering start. A disastrous collision on the startline with his closest rival Francesco Cappuzzo (ITA) in one key heat left the Italian’s mast destroyed and saw them both fall to the back of the pack.

Tight at the top

But Galea got a win in the day’s penultimate race that kept him in contention and put him back on top by 0.3 of a point. Galea found himself overhauled in the day’s dramatic last race, where he battled Cappuzzo all the way to the line, but lost out by a few metres. It left both athletes on equal points on the leaderboard.

“We’re even on points, so it was pretty tough and pretty tight,” said Galea. “That’s what makes competition so interesting. But it’s what also makes it so horrible.”

On count-backs Cappuzzo sits top of the leaderboard thanks to marginally better earlier scores than his rival. The battle could not be more finely poised going into the final day, though the wind forecast looks difficult for competition.

“As we’ve said since the beginning of the year, it’s going to be really tight,” said Cappuzzo. “Basically we’re close in everything, and [the title is] going to come down to the last event. I really enjoyed it. It was a really good day.”

Tune for the final day’s FreeFly-Slalom action here to find out who will win.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Lukas K Stiller

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Denmark 2023 results

Women
1 Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
2 Kylie Belloeuvre (FRA)
3 Orane Ceris (FRA)

Men (standings after 10 rounds, 2 discards)
1 Francesco Cappuzzo (ITA) 15.8pts
2 Titouan Galea (FRA) 15.8pts
3 Julien Rattotti (FRA) 19.7pts

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.

Weather
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
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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