Wednesday, 06 December 2023 22:07

Escofet & Suardiaz seize the early lead

© IWSA media/ Vila Kalango: High-speed foiling on day one © IWSA media/ Vila Kalango: High-speed foiling on day one IWSA media/ Vila Kalango

- Big breeze on day one, gusting up to 30 knots
- Long-distance races and rabbit starts kick off the action
- Bastien Escofet takes the men’s lead ahead of world champion Mathis Ghio
- Nia Suardiaz is the women’s leader ahead of world champion Paula Novotna

You would never know he’d been away for six months, but Bastien Escofet foiled right to the top of the leaderboard after a phenomenally windy first day in Jericoacoara at the WingFoil Racing World Cup Brazil.

Not that the French professional has been away from the wing, it’s just that his focus has been on freestyle rather than the racing discipline. “I have been training hard with the other guys like my flatmate Julien [Rattotti], but they have been going faster than me so it’s a nice surprise to be at the top after today,” said Escofet.

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© IWSA media/ Vila Kalango: The dramatic 'Rabbit Start' to launch the fleet into long distance races

After a predominantly light wind circuit in Abu Dhabi and three locations in Europe, Jericoacoara is making up for all the breeze that was missing from earlier in the season. The wind is blowing consistently over 25 knots and sometimes gusting close to 30. Getting ready on the grass in front of Vila Kalango, the host venue for the event, the riders were wondering how small to go with their wing choices. No one was going for the 6.0 square metre option which has been de rigeur for the other World Cups this year. Riders were inflating their 4.0 to 4.5 sqm options, and some even going for as small as 3.5 sqm.

At the last event in Sardinia, Julien Rattotti had dominated the first day and won both long distance races which begin with the rabbit start. Using the double-skin Gong wing, Rattotti was higher and faster upwind, so it was no surprise to see the Frenchman going for his advanced design again in Jeri today. Rattotti duly won the first race which took around 20 minutes to complete. Francesco Cappuzzo of Italy was second with France’s Mathis Ghio in third.
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© IWSA media: Bastien Escofet made a big impact today

Escofet, another Gong-sponsored rider, had been running on the double-skin wing but felt overpowered and decided to change down to a smaller single-skin wing which he uses for freestyle competition. “I was already on my smallest double-skin wing, a 5.0sqm and I wanted less power so I went for the smaller 4.5sqm wing which I know really well and feel comfortable with.”

The switch down in size paid dividends for Escofet who won the second long-distance race, this time ahead of Italy’s Nicolo Spanu in second and Ghio picking up another third.
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© IWSA media:Riders getting briefed for the day's action

Now the men’s fleet was re-ordered into three equally-weighted qualifying groups for the short-course racing. Ghio, the reigning World Champion, was happy to have come through the two long-distance races with two 3rd places.

“Very few of us have been consistent so I’m happy with that,” said the French rider who tries to rely on his harness as little as possible. He prefers the direct control of the wing through his arms, although it does require phenomenal fitness to keep on doing that throughout a race that lasts 20 minutes or more.

Once into the short course racing Ghio was more in his element, although Escofet didn’t slow up either, winning one race and coming third in the other. It’s hard to keep track of how you’re doing against the rest of the fleet until everyone gets reorganised into Gold, Silver and Bronze at the end of Thursday. But this afternoon’s races showed that Rattotti, Cappuzzo, and a number of others have the ability to win races. Ghio will have to be at his best to defend his title at this event, although his grip on the overall season title is very secure.
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© IWSA media / Robert Hajduk: From warm air into warm water on Jericoacoara Beach

In the women’s competition, reigning World Champion Paula Novotna came right back in at the top, the Czech rider winning the first long distance race despite missing part of the 2023 season. By the end of the day, however, it was the Spanish teenager Nia Suardiaz who won the next three heats and moved to the top of the scoreboard by a point ahead of Novotna. Just three points behind is Maddalena Spanu, the 16-year-old Italian who has won two of the events in Europe and leads the overall season standings.
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© IWSA media / Robert Hajduk: Julien Rattotti's double-skin wing worked well for him in race one

Spanu was very fast in the lighter breeze of Europe and was struggling to hold on in today’s big wind conditions. “I didn’t bring my smaller wings here, so I’m having to stick with the smallest wing I have and it’s not small enough,” she laughed. “I hope the wind comes down a bit but it is still good fun and good racing here.”

This evening the fleet is relaxing in Vila Kalango, either with some yoga, physiotherapy or a more traditional caipirinha. Competition continues on Thursday with short course racing to decide who will progress into Gold Fleet competition on Friday.



Bastien Escofet


1.6 p


Mathis Ghio


2.0 p


Julien Rattotti


2.6 p



Paula Novotna


3.0 p


Nia Suardiaz


4.0 p


Maddalena Spanu


5.0 p


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© IWSA media: Ernesto de Amicis getting ready at Vila Kalango

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