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Wingfoilers amped for fresh battles in Fuerte

Sotavento hosts first GWA event in part two of Surf-Freestyle and FreeFly-Slalom world cup stops in the Canaries

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Fuerteventura
Playa Sotavento, 21–26 July, 2023

The victors in the first of two back-to-back GWA Wingfoil World Tour stops in the Canary Islands, Spain, are keen to repeat their success when the action kicks-off again in Fuerteventura.

Spain’s wingfoiling phenom, Nia Suardiaz, 16, cleaned up at the first stop in Gran Canaria winning the Surf-Freestyle and FreeFly Slalom contests, and only missed out on the new Red Bull Rockets Award for the biggest jump by a narrow margin.

But as the riders registered for the duels ahead over the next five days of action, the young Spaniard was up for the fight in the strong breezes offered on Fuerteventura’s Playa Sotavento.

“This is my fourth time here [in Fuerteventura],” said Suardiaz. “The wind is looking really good. So let’s see how it goes.”

The US’s Chris MacDonald, 17, is also looking to stamp his authority on the race for the Surf-Freestyle world title at the Sotavento stop after blowing the away the starry field in Gran Canaria only a few days ago.

More mellow conditions

But the conditions in Sotavento are likely to be slightly more mellow than the previous stop—25 knots of wind compared 35 knots—which could have a bearing on the outcome.

Forty men and 13 women are set to go toe-to-toe in the Surf-Freestyle and FreeFly-Slalom competitions, fought out in cross-offshore breezes. First up will be the opening rounds of the Surf-Freestyle action.

Spain’s Suardiaz will find herself up again France’s Orane Ceris and Flora Artzner, along with the Dutch rider Bowien van der Linden.

Van der Linden has been training hard in the week at Sotavento and dialled a Back Flip that was such a big-scoring trick for Suardiaz and Ceris in the final barely a week ago.

MacDonald’s rivals have been training, too, enjoying turquoise waters and sandy beaches that are a contrast to Gran Canaria’s black volcanic rocky shoreline.

Even up the scoreline

The French 15-year-old Axel Gerard, who suffered a defeat at the hands of the imperious MacDonald in the Gran Canaria final, will be hoping for a chance to even the scoreline.

But there are many other Surf-Freestylers who will be banking on the same, including France’s Malo Guénolé, the reigning world champion, countryman Alan Fedit, and the Gran Canaria breakout rider, Germany’s Benjamin May.

The fights in FreeFly Slalom will be equally intriguing as seasoned racer Titouan Galea (FRA) seeks to build on his win in Gran Canaria, with the racing likely to start on Monday once the Surf-Freestyle is completed.

Galea’s biggest opponents will probably be Italy’s Francesco Cappuzzo and Alan Fedit. But Bastien Escofet (FRA), who was FreeFly-Slalom tour leader going into the last stop, has been pushing hard to get the conditions dialled.

Great festival

“Here in Sotavento the wind is pretty strong,” said Escofet, preparing for a session. “I just pumped my 3m2. It might be too much, but let’s see.”

One of his rivals, Frenchman Oscar Leclair, was similarly pumped for the battles ahead and hoping to better his strong performance in Gran Canaria.

“I’m in Fuerteventura for the first time,” said Leclair. “It’s a super-cool location with super wind. This is a great event with a great festival, so we will enjoy and be the best we can be.”

The action is set to start on Saturday. So join us for the mind-blowing battles here.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Lukas K Stiller

Spot Info: Sotavento, Fuerteventura

The weather in Fuerteventura, Spain, during July, ranges around 25-30C with sunrise around 07:15 and sunset at 21:00.

Wind and water
July is a great month for wind in Fuerteventura. The wind regularly blows 20-25+ knots, coming from the north/north-east, which blows side offshore at Sotavento. The water is choppy with occasional kickers rolling in with the swell. Water temperature is 23-24 C, so bring a shorty or summer wetsuit.

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