The Wingfoil World Cup Gran Canaria 2023 is a world premiere – a wing foil event in one of the windiest cities in the world – Pozo Izquierdo. We have all the highlights from the competition that takes place in Spain now: 11–16 July, 2023.
Table of Contents
- Day 1: Video Highlights Wingfoil World Cup Gran Canaria 2023
- Day 1: Young freestylers throw down gauntlet in Gran Canaria
- Day 2: Video Highlights
- Day 2: Intense battles spark drama in Gran Canaria
- Day 3: Video Highlights
- Day 3: FreeFly-Slalom winners crowned in Gran Canaria
- Day 4: Video Highlights
- Day 4: Big Air title clash was contest for the ages
- Day 5: Video Highlights
- Day 5: First Big Air wingfoil world champions crowned
- Day 6: Video Highlights
- Day 6: Teenage freestyle winners crowned in Gran Canaria
- Final results GWA Wingfoil World Cup Gran Canaria
Day 1: Video Highlights Wingfoil World Cup Gran Canaria 2023
Day 1: Young freestylers throw down gauntlet in Gran Canaria
Teenage wingfoil stars, Chris MacDonald and Malo Guénolé, threw down the gauntlet to their seasoned rivals in the opening clashes of the GWA Wingfoil World Cup on Gran Canaria, Spain.
The US’s MacDonald, 17, and France’s Guénolé, 18, came out firing at the third stop of the GWA Wingfoil World Tour’s Surf-Freestyle discipline, putting down a marker and showing they meant business.
MacDonald, the U19 GWA Youth Surf-Freestyle world champion, advanced in the contest with one of the highest heat scores on the first day of competition. A perfect 10 for a remarkable Frontside 1080 was twinned with a 9.07 for a Frontflip-Frontside 3 Combo.
Reigning GWA Surf-Freestyle world champion, Guénolé, racked up an even larger heat total of 26.47, the day’s biggest. His tricks included several world competition firsts, including 9.60 for a Backflip 360, and a Tack Frontside 7.
Tailor-made Wingfoil World Cup conditions
Only Bastien Escofet (FRA), the GWA FreeFly-Slalom tour leader after two stops, seemed to have the tricks in his locker that might answer the teenagers’ challenge. Escofet scored nine-plus for one of several 1080’s he threw down.
“I’ve just got out of the water,” said Escofet. “I did two 1080s, but only one of them scored. I did a few innovation [tricks] as well, and I’m happy to go through [to the next round]. My equipment is working awesomely in this strong wind. The wings are perfect and controlled. Perfect for the 10s.”
Day one of the six-day competition, the first time the GWA has staged an event at the renowned spot of Gran Canaria’s Pozo Izquierdo, opened with tailor-made conditions.
The wind was blowing at more than 30 knots throughout the day, teamed with kickers that were ideal ramps for the 28 men from 10 nations battling in the Surf-Freestyle discipline. Most of the men were using wings little bigger than 3m2.
Upsets and surprises at the Wingfoil World Cup
But the honour of taking to the water first went to the exciting new Big Air wingfoil discipline. The big breezes and kickers were perfect for takeoff as the 15 men trialled the new format in four qualification heats. At the conclusion men’s and women’s Big Air world champions will be crowned in Pozo Izquierdo.
As the thrilling action ramped up, it generated more than a few upsets and surprises. One biggest came in first heat of round three when the Danish 12-year-old, Benjamin Castenskiold, got the better of Xavi Corr (ESP) and Lilian Juppet (FRA).
From the three tricks to count out of a total of seven attempts, Castenskiold put three solid seven-plus scores on the board and advanced straight to round five. Corr, 16, was just 0.37 points adrift from his young rival, but he and Juppet must battle for survival in round four.
Another upset came in the form of Spain’s Ancor Sosa, 15, when he beat Benjamin May (GER). Again their scores were super-tight with just 0.53 separating the pair. But May lives to fight again in round four.
Germany’s Alan Fedit tops the Surf-Freestyle tour rankings after two stops, but he had to be on his game to see off the challenges of the French 15-year-olds, Axel Gerard and Clément Hamon. Fedit sealed the deal with three eight-plus scores that included a big Combo.
Even as Bastien Escofet showed his prowess, he was pushed hard in his day’s last heat by Spain’s Jerome Cloetens, who accumulated a strong total with three seven-plus scores for several Combinations—back-to-back tricks—that the judges liked.
But it fell to the veteran watermen Balz Müller (SUI) and Francesco Cappuzzo (ITA) to ramp up the tension when they faced off in a heat alongside Chucho Nonnot (NED). Müller and Cappuzzo went trick-for-trick in a fight that went down to the wire.
Müller pulled the trick he coined, the Radiculo, to earn 8.30 from the judges. But he had to watch as his rival Cappuzzo threw exactly the same trick and the took win to go to round five.
Little could dampen Müller’s infectious enthusiasm, as was obvious when he spoke before the competition started.
“My first time here in Pozo,” said Müller. “It’s absolutely nuts. Look at this playground out there. It’s crazy. I’m kind-of scared; a bit nervous. I’m definitely super, super excited for the insane wingfoil competition coming up. What I’ve seen in the past sessions on the water is absolutely mind-blowing. Everyone is going through the roof. This sport is going through the roof.”
Day 2: Video Highlights
Day 2: Intense battles spark drama in Gran Canaria
France’s Titouan Galea fought back to take the lead in the FreeFly-Slalom discipline at the GWA Wingfoil World Cup Gran Canaria, Spain, after a costly early error left him left him down the order.
Galea took three wins from four elimination rounds after he had mistakenly gone to the wrong heat in the opening skirmishes of the competition at Pozo Izquierdo, leaving him adrift on the leaderboard.
Spain’s Nia Suardiaz topped the women’s FreeFly-Slalom rankings with a massively convincing outing when she took seven wins from eight. Even a crash on the startline of her day’s last race was not important as she was already throwing out first place finishes from her score.
Day two of the competition was given over to FreeFly-Slalom when the 32 men battled through four elimination rounds and the 14 women progressed through eight in perfect winds of about 30 knots, teamed with ocean swells.
Day 3: Video Highlights
Day 3: FreeFly-Slalom winners crowned in Gran Canaria
France’s Titouan Galea was so dominant in the FreeFly-Slalom contest of the GWA Wingfoil World Cup in Gran Canaria, Spain, that he had the title in the bag even before the last race.
But Italy’s Francesco Cappuzzo, who looked like a strong challenger for the crown earlier in the competition, had to battle to the end to take the second podium step, just ousting Alan Fedit (GER), who had shown remarkable consistency throughout.
If anything, the Spanish teenager Nia Suardiaz was even more consistent. She won 12 from 15 races to easily lift the crown. She was virtually untouchable and appeared to be cruising for much of the competition.
But on the second day of the FreeFly-Slalom contest, in winds gusting up to 35 knots, France’s Flora Artzner exposed a chink in her young rival’s armour. Artzner took three elimination round wins and secured the second spot.
The third day of the Gran Canaria world cup, with 35 men and 14 women battling for honours, saw the conclusion of the FreeFly-Slalom event after two days of racing in perfect breezes backed by swells that were ideal for the wingfoil competitors.
Stong wind and waves
The GWA Wingfoil World Tour is making it debut at the iconic windsurfing spot of Pozo Izquierdo. Day one of the contest opened with the much-anticipated new discipline of Big Air and Surf-Freestyle, which will continue over the coming days.
But the second and third days of competition served up some of the most exciting FreeFly-Slalom ever seen, with the athletes amped by the cranking winds and swell for the challenging pump sections of the course.
Overnight leader Galea began day two with a healthy advantage, looking forward to battling in the great conditions offered by Gran Canaria and hoping his rivals would repeat their mistakes that had helped him to top spot.
“I’m happy to be leading one event so far,” he said, ahead of racing. “It looks like it’s going to be same conditions as yesterday, with pretty strong conditions. It’s nice to have a venue with such strong wind and waves. The down-wind part was really making sense. We were really surfing that yesterday, so that was fun.”
Damage inflicted earlier
In the end it came down to a fight for second place between Fedit and Cappuzzo, in the third and final elimination round of the day, Cappuzzo could only manage third but it was enough keep him above Fedit, who finished seventh in the race.
Galea had already inflicted all the damage in the day’s second elimination round. The Frenchman had done just enough to get to the final without taking risks, but then put the hammer down using the pump track waves to the full to win and seal the overall victory.
He was able to sit out the last round, safe in the knowledge he could not be beaten with a second discard on the way after a total of seven elimination rounds.
Nia Suardiaz never took her foot off the gas pushing to the end in every race. But Flora Artzner (FRA) fared much better on the second day of racing, taking two wins and the second podium step, just ahead of her countrywoman, Orane Ceris.
On day four we will return for more wingfoil action. Join us live here for all the excitement.
FreeFly-Slalom Results GWA Wingfoil World Cup Gran Canaria 2023
1 Titouan Galea (FRA)
2 Francesco Cappuzzo (ITA)
3 Alan Fedit (GER)
1 Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
2 Flora Artzner (FRA)
3 Orane Ceris (FRA)
Day 4: Video Highlights
Day 4: Big Air title clash was contest for the ages
The battle to become the first GWA Wingfoil Big Air world champions at the iconic spot of Gran Canaria’s Pozo Izquierdo in perfect, cranking winds was one for the ages.
The clashes in this new Big Air discipline sparked a raft of upsets and saw the emergence of a clutch of new young athletes who have their eyes on the prize after a day of intense action.
But with the competition poised to decide who will wear the crowns in the finals on the penultimate day of the GWA Wingfoil World Cup, two veterans stand in the way of the young pretenders.
France’s Titouan Galea, fresh off a win in the FreeFly-Slalom contest, secured his place in the final thanks to the biggest jumps on the fourth day of competition in Spain’s Canary Islands.
The veteran racer tops the leaderboard in the Red Bull Rockets Award—a competition run in tandem with the Big Air contest—with a leap of 10.9m. In the final Galea faces compatriot Julien Rattotti and the young German, Benjamin May, both of whom made big breakthroughs.
Cracked Big Air code
Spanish teenager Nia Suardiaz has also just won the FreeFly-Slalom and similarly booked her place in the final by topping the Red Bull Rockets leader board with a leap of 6.3m. She faces Poland’s Agata Blach and Mar de Arce Sánchez (ESP).
Eighteen men and 12 women were excited to take part in the new Big Air format in the mythical venue of Pozo Izquierdo, with the winds gusting around 35 knots and the swell providing ideal kickers to go huge.
The athletes, riding 3m2 to 4m2 wings in the cranking breezes, were given six trick attempts from which their best two scores counted. The scores were decided 80 percent on height, with 20 percent allocated for technical difficulty.
By the time the contest reached the men’s round three the athletes were beginning to crack the Big Air code. Finalist Rattotti and Luca Vuillermet,13, advanced to the semi-finals ahead of the fellow countryman, Alan Fedit, even though he posted the highest jump of the competition to that point, 9.5m.
The round three shootout between Chris MacDonald (USA), Benjamin May, reining Surf-Freestyle world champion Malo Guénolé and Clément Hamon would have been worthy of the final, with such heavy hitters in the ring.
May on fire
Newly-crowned U19 Surf-Freesyle world champion MacDonald, 17, came out of the blocks fast, racking up a big total that included an 8.60 for a 9.7m jump that kept him top of the Red Bull leaderboard for some time.
Benjamin May, 18, was on fire. While his jumps were not as lofty as MacDonald’s, May had his massive Front Flips off the kickers dialled and the judges rewarded him highly, with a 9.47 and 8.73 that won him the remarkable heat.
Guénolé, by contrast, was struggling and crashing his tricks. He finally racked up a 7.33 but was still adrift on the scoreboard behind MacDonald. But on his last trick, Guénolé landed an massive Front Flip that netted 9.50 and allowed him to progress.
“I’m really, really happy to have made it through it,” said Guénolé, 18. “Chris MacDonald came out pretty fast. I was stressed because I was up against him, Benji May and Clément Hamon who are probably the best out there. On my last attempt I made one of my best Front Flips ever. So yes, pumped.”
But Guénolé could not maintain his run and was dumped out in the semi-final by Julien Rattotti. He scored a 9.23 for a 10.2m jump, which added to an 8.47 was enough to end the world champion’s run.
“Never expected this”
May had no such problems when he came up against Camille Bouyer (FRA) in another semi-final. The German just kept churning out massive, clean Front Flips that blew the Frenchman away.
“I can ‘t even describe my thoughts, it was crazy,” said May. “I had two big Front Flips with totally clean landings. I was told the last one was 8m and I’m really stoked to land them properly. We will see where the future brings wingfoiling.”
The third semi-final saw Vuillermet push Galea in a fairly tight heat. But Galea kept it simple, just trying to jump as high as possible, snatching the record with the 10.9m jump and progressing. Another trick he failed to land was recorded as 12.2m metres on the Surfr_app, but did not count.
“Well, I never expected this, it’s my wrong tack [for jumping],” said Galea. “I can’t really perform tricks on this side, so I just push as high as I can. I think we can do 11 or 12 metres high here. Maybe if the wind’s stronger or bigger kickers we’ll even get 15 metres.”
The women’s semi-finals saw Agata Blach dispatch Austria’s Viola Lippitsch by the slenderest of margins, while Mar de Arce Sánchez got the scalp of Dutch power house Bowien van der Linden.
Now Blach and De Arce Sánchez have the honour of a finals showdown with the formidable Suardiaz, 16, who looks unstoppable. With the men’s final and more Surf-Freestyle action to come, it promises to be enthralling.
Day 5: Video Highlights
Day 5: First Big Air wingfoil world champions crowned
France’s Julien Rattotti and Spain’s Mar de Arce Sánchez lifted the titles at the maiden GWA Wingfoil Big Air World Championships in fittingly ballistic conditions at the iconic spot of Pozo Izquierdo, on Spain’s Gran Canaria.
Rattotti came from behind to seal the deal with the highest jump of the competition—11.2 metres—on his last trick in the men’s final which was fought out in big swells and winds gusting to 47 knots.
De Arce Sánchez, battling in her first competition, staged a big upset when she overhauled her countrywoman and hot favourite, Nia Suardiaz, by a slender margin to take the first Big Air world title.
Eighteen men and 12 women battling at the GWA Wingfoil Big Air World Cup Gran Canaria—which also includes the Surf-Freestyle and FreeFly Slalom disciplines—opted to pick up the Big Air gauntlet.
Day four of the six-day competition had been dedicated to the Big Air contest with Pozo Izquierdo’s ever-reliable wind cranking up to about 35 knots, perfectly complementing the kickers that were ideal ramps for the new discipline.
On the path to the finals, the new discipline ignited some stellar performances and saw some big name casualties. The US’s Chris MacDonald, the U19 GWA Youth Surf-Freestyle world champion, made an unexpected exit.
No second escape
In one of the biggest heats of the contest, MacDonald got the highest jump of the competition to that point—9.7 metres—to give him the lead. But he was outgunned by finalist Benjamin May (GER) and Malo Guénolé (FRA) after he threw down a massive Front Flip for his last trick that sent MacDonald packing.
But Guénolé could not repeat his escape as he came up against his team-mate Rattotti when the pair faced off in a semi-final. Rattotti chalked up a big total that was bulked up by a massive 9.23 for a 10.2-metre jump that helped secure his berth in the final.
That setup the showdown on the penultimate fifth day of the contest between Rattotti, May and Titouan Galea (FRA). Galea had reached the final with a leap of 10.9 metres that put him top of the Red Bull Rockets Award for the highest jump to that point in the competition.
The morning of the Big Air finals on day five was the windiest yet, ranging from 40 to almost 50 knots, with perfect kickers to boost off in the building swell.
Rattotti came out firing, putting some solid scores on the board early on for one that included a jump of 8.8 metres. But May, on the eve of his 19th birthday, tried to keep the Frenchman in his sights before cutting lose.
The German teenager launched his assault with two massive Front Loops late in the heat. They were not the highest jumps of day at 7.6 metres, but the judges rewarded him for the technical difficulty and he took the lead thanks to an 8.97 trick score.
Galea, holding down a 4m2 wing in the massive conditions, stuck to his trusty formula of going big, with little complexity. It eventually paid off with 8.9 metre jump that scored 8.0 points. But by then his rivals were getting away.
As the seconds ticked down Rattotti seemed to get the conditions dialled launching a massive 11.1 metre jump that earned 8.80 points. But with his last trick he needed even more and he pulled it out of the bag with 11.2 metre jump that scored 9.47. It was enough for the historic win.
“It’s crazy,” said a delighted Rattotti. “The conditions were very strong, but I’m super-happy to have made it. It was nice. Super-happy.”
The women’s final was a three-way fight between De Arce Sánchez, Saurdiaz, and the Polish rider Agata Blach. Suardiaz forged an early lead, but her biggest jump of 6.6 metres ended in an uncharacteristic crash and went uncounted.
De Arce Sánchez then put pressure on Suardiaz with a 6.34 score and went one better with her last jump that netted 6.92 from the judges. Suardiaz responded but could not quite match De Arce Sánchez, whose total heat score was 13.35 to Suardiaz’s 13.20.
Even before the final De Arce Sánchez told of her delight at getting so far in the competition and her determination to go big even in the intimidating Pozo conditions.
“I’m really happy to get to the final,” said De Arce Sánchez. “It was super-big [yesterday]. But yes, sure, we’re going to go for it. You know, it’s the final so we need to go bigger.”
The men’s Surf-Freestyle action was the next order of business and delivered some epic duels and more upsets as the contest progressed to the semi-finals, which will open on the final day of the competition.
Chris MacDonald was imperious as he dispatched Italy’s Riccardo Zorzi with a huge Front Flip-Frontside 3 combo and Frontside 1080 that took his heat score to 25.87, the highest of the day.
The clash of France’s Axel Gerard and Spain’s Xavi Corr was dynamite as the pair went toe-to-toe, trading blows and going trick for trick. In the end Corr edged it by 0.07 of a point to go the semi-finals.
One of the day’s biggest upsets was inflicted by the German Benjamin May. He ended the run of Surf-Freestyle world champion Guénolé after both racked up huge scores. But May’s 8.83 for a Front Flip-Frontside 3 combo dumped Guénolé out of the contest.
Day 6: Video Highlights
Day 6: Teenage freestyle winners crowned in Gran Canaria
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.
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.
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.
Final results GWA Wingfoil World Cup Gran Canaria
1 Christopher MacDonald (USA)
2 Axel Gerard (FRA)
3 Alan Fedit (FRA)
4 Benjamin May (GER)
1 Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
2 Orane Ceris (FRA)
3 Bowien van der Linden (NED)
4 Agata Blach (POL)
1 Titouan Galea (FRA)
2 Francesco Cappuzzo (ITA)
3 Alan Fedit (GER)
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
Words: Ian MacKinnon
Images: Lukas K Stiller
GWA Wingfoil World Tour
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