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Wingfoil pioneers set for surf battles at iconic Rio break

Leaders in wingfoil world tour’s pure surfing discipline slated to go head-to-head at much-anticipated stop in Brazil

Copa Kitley GWA Wingfoil World Cup Brazil 2023
Itauna Beach, Saquarema, 31 July–11 August

The top seeds in the GWA Wingfoil World Tour in the pure surfing discipline are set to battle in Brazil, in the maiden world cup stop at  Rio de Janeiro’s storied Saquarema break.

Cape Verdean powerhouse, Wesley Brito, and veteran US waterwoman, Moona Whyte, are seeking to cement their bids for the first wingfoil Wave world titles at the eagerly-anticipated event in Brazil.

The duo staked their title claims when they stamped their authority on the inaugural GWA Wingfoil World Tour stop at Cape Verde’s renowned Ponta Preta break, a challenging and hollow right-hander.

The upcoming Copa Kitley GWA Wingfoil World Cup Brazil at Saquarema’s Itauna beach, which was the venue for a World Surf League call in 2022, usually offers a left-hand beach break with hollow sections, though the wave can break right.

The third and concluding stop of the GWA Wingfoil World Tour is scheduled for Dakhla Westpoint, Morocco, in late September, after which the world champions will be crowned.

Vast wave experience

Each stop of the pioneering wingfoil wave tour is being run in tandem with a GKA Kite-Surf World Cup event, facilitating a long competition window—12 days in the case of Saquarema—to give the best possible chance of scoring good swell and strong breezes together.

Twenty-five of the world’s best wingfoil wave riders are on the roster to compete in Rio de Janeiro, fighting for a prize purse of €10,000. Some athletes, like Moona Whyte and Cape Verde-based Hendrick Lopes (SUI), are planning compete in both the Kite-Surf and wingfoil surfing disciplines.

Hawaii-based Whyte staged a remarkable double to land both crowns in Cape Verde and will be hoping her surfing experience will result in a repeat in Rio de Janeiro, where she faces a compact women’s wingfoil wave field.

But for Wesley Brito, the victor in Cape Verde where he had home court advantage, the order maybe a taller one. Defeated finalist in Cape Verde, France’s Benoît Carpentier, has vast international wave experience that comes with being a SUP surfing world champion, and will be keen to avenge his loss.

Strong outings

Others like the French pair of Hugo Marin and Clément Roseyro are seeded highly after strong outings in Ponta Preta, while the likes of the US’s Cash Berzolla and Charly Martin, from Reunion island, are surfing veterans.

The field is also stuffed with talented young wingfoilers like the 15-year-olds, Axel Gerard (ESP) and Corsica-based Noé Cuyala (FRA), who are fresh off the back of big performances at back-to-back Surf-Freestyle and FreeFly-Slalom events in the Canaries, Spain.

The experienced Brazilian wingfoilers, Vinnicius Martins and Fernando Novaes, will find themselves up against reigning Surf-Freestyle world champion Malo Guénolé (FRA). His compatriots Julien Rattotti and Bastien Escofet have also thrown their hat in the wingfoil surfing ring.

It promises to be an enthralling contest. Join us here on the livestream to watch all the action as it unfolds in Rio.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Lukas K Stiller

Event information

  • Location: Praia da Itauna, Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro
  • Dates: 31 July — 11 August
  • The official Race Notice and event schedule can be found here.
  • All event information here.

Spot Info: Saquarema, Rio de Janiero
Saquarema is a town to the east of Rio de Janeiro. It is renowned to have some of the best surf in Brazil and hosted a World Surf League tour stop in 2022. But it is often neglected by locals from Rio who travel further afield to explore other breaks. It may owe its reputation as a surf spot to the 60’s and 70’s, as it was one of the first places that surfers from Rio explored outside of the city.

Praia da Itauna
Itauna is stretch of beach to the west of the old church. A channel runs runs out from the natural lagoon. The east end has a rock shelf. Uncharacteristically for Rio surf, the sandy bottom can maintain big swells that keep their shape. The wave is generally a long left with hollow sections. But it can break right on occasions depending on the conditions. The waves can be chest to head-high and above.

August is winter in Brazil, with dry weather throughout most of the country. On the coastline around Rio de Janeiro, and in the city centre, the weather is pleasant with daytime temperatures around 21-27C and 18-21C in the evenings.

During August the main wind directions in Saquarema are from north-east, side-offshore, or south-west, side-onshore, with 15-20 knots depending on winter weather systems passing by.

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