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Title contenders served a warning in Dakhla

Opening battles of last wave stop in Morocco throw up surprises as top ranked men face fight for survival

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

The opening heats of the GWA Wingfoil World Cup Dakhla Presented by Armstrong Foils  dealt the leading world title contenders a warning when a number were beaten and now face a fight for survival in Morocco.

Several of the top ranked men who could win the first-ever world championship crown in the Wave discipline on the GWA Wingfoil World Tour ended up in round two. A defeat there would see their run ended and title hopes evaporate.

The third and concluding Wave stop in Westpoint Dakhla’s renowned right-hand break will see the men’s and women’s world champions crowned at the end of the 10-day event, a double-header with the GKA Kite-Surf World Cup Dakhla.

Day one of the competition saw the race director decide to run the wingfoil competition first in the 15 to 20 knots of breeze and small-to-moderate swells. Thirty athletes—24 men and five women—from nine nations, are competing for glory

Shown the door

The first round of the men’s competition, eight three-man heats of 16 minutes, was completed along with several heats of round two, before the conditions were judged insufficiently good to compete.

The athletes were given 10 wave attempts, with the best two scores to count. The judges rewarded flowing, linked turns and style in this pure surfing discipline.

The young Corsican rider Noé Cuyala opened the event and his own account in style. The 16-year-old took down Spain’s Xavi Corr and Cape Verdean Hendrick Lopes (SUI). Lopes had the misfortune to be shown the door in round two, though he will battle again in the Kite-Surf world cup.

Title contender and Cape Verde event winner, Wesley Brito (CPV), continued the theme, with a big heat that saw him advance straight to round three. He overhauled the Frenchmen Alan Fedit and Julien Bouyer, who lived to fight again in round two, though Bouyer made an early exit there.

Came off worst

Wildcard James Jenkins (USA) caused one of the upsets of the day when his strong surfing was rewarded well by the judges and he took out the second ranked Benoît Carpentier, though he goes again in round two.

One of the day’s biggest heats featured world champion Malo Guénolé (FRA). The winner of the last round in Rio de Janeiro’s Saquarema earned the biggest scores of the day, 8.40 out of 10 for one wave, to take his heat total to 16.37.

In the same heat, French powerhouse Bastien Escofet came off worst. But Finn Spencer, the Maui-based Canadian athlete, gave Guénolé a run for his money. Spencer finished less than a point behind Guénolé and put the matter right with a win in round two.

“The waves have been really fun, with great wind,” said Spencer, in his first GWA Wave event. “The sets are a little bit slow, but when they come they peel all the way through and you can make lots of turns on them. I love these waves. They’re very similar to what I get at home—right-hand waves with the wind blowing the same direction.”

Narrow defeat

Big wave surfer Clement Roseyro (FRA), Chucho Nonnot (NED) and the GWA Big Air World Champion Julien Rattotti (FRA) were involved in another tight battle. Roseyro just came out on top, but Nonnot and Rattotti were barely more than one point adrift.

Roseyro was delighted with his performance, which sets up a clash with countryman Guénolé if both riders keep progressing. Roseyro was unfazed by the prospect of a meeting.

“If I want to win the title I have to beat everyone.” said Roseyro. “So if I have to beat Malo [Guénolé] I’ll do my best. This wave is super-long. It’s a perfect wave. I think we’ll get some bigger swells [in the coming days] for sure. But even now, it’s good. We can make ‘airs’, carves, everything. So, I’m happy about the conditions.”

Top seed Hugo Marin (FRA) was another rider who will have battle it out again in round two after he was defeated by the narrowest of margins by Marius Auber, seeing off the only Moroccan rider, Mohamed Ali Beqqali, in the process.

On day two the plan is to continue with the men’s heats and hopefully move to the women’s contest. 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.

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  • Check out our youtube channel for daily highlight videos

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

Weather
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.

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

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