Wednesday, 31 May 2023 18:59

Wingfoil Racers ready for Garda drama

Wingfoil Racers ready for Garda drama IWSA media / Robert Hajduk

4 days of long-distance and short-course racing out of Campione Univela on the western shore of Lake Garda
A vital qualifying event for the ANOC World Beach Games in Bali this summer
Open competition with a huge array of different equipment
77 competitors from 20 countries representing 6 continents
Some have come from as far as Venezuela, Thailand and New Zealand

The Pascucci WingFoil Racing World Cup Campione del Garda 2023 is about to begin, with four days of high speed action from 1 to 4 June.

Reigning women’s and men’s World Champions, respectively Paula Novotná (CZE) and Mathis Ghio (FRA) are among the 77 competitors from 20 countries that entered for the event which takes place out of Campione Univela on the western shore of Lake Garda. Ghio also won the European title just a month ago in Athens. 

Novotná was absent from that regatta and it was the 16-year-old Nia Suardiaz (ESP) who lifted the women’s title in Athens. It will be interesting to see how things play out between the Spanish and Czech riders in the women’s fleet when they meet for the first time in Garda. 

© IWSA: winged up and ready to go

The last time the Wingfoil Racing World Cup took place in Campione was October last year, when Italian rider Francesco Cappuzzo narrowly beat Ghio to the top of the podium. “It’s going to be hard to beat Mathis again this time,” admitted Cappuzzo. “He has been winning nearly all the regattas this year, and the level has increased so much in the last eight or nine months since we were racing in Campione. Everything is changing so quickly, the equipment, the techniques. It will be interesting to see so many new competitors from so many countries this week and how the racing plays out.”

While many of the leading lights have already booked their spot at the ANOC World Beach Games in Bali this summer, for others the four days in Garda are a vital opportunity to see if they can join the likes of Ghio and Novotná who have already qualified for this high-profile event being organised by the Olympic Movement. Some view wingfoil racing’s inclusion at the ANOC World Beach Games as a possible indicator that this sport might one day make an appearance at the Olympic Games itself. Either way, the stakes are high in Garda and the possibility of a ticket to Bali is certainly an additional incentive to perform. 

© IWSA: windy start from October 2022

In just a few years, Campione Univela has established itself as one of the go-to training and racing venues for all types of wind-powered high-performance machines. Lake Garda is one of the most famous watersports venues in the world, and riders from as far away as Colombia, New Zealand, Thailand and Venezuela have flown in to compete on these famous waters, lined on either side by towering mountains.

Still a young and fast developing sport, part of the fun of these World Cups is to see what equipment riders are using. The very best are regularly exceeding 30 knots of speed, and the numbers are creeping up all the time. Smaller foils are faster, provided you can get up and flying in the first place. A larger foil gives you a better chance of take-off in lighter winds although you pay the price with lower top speed. Equipment choices are open, so a whole array of different gear from a wide variety of manufacturers will be on display.  

© IWSA/ Robert Hajduk: Mathis Ghio - the man to beat

Riders will be watching each other keenly to see what techniques they have developed to make their boards go faster. A year or so ago, racing upwind seemed almost impossible on a wingfoil board, but now it’s an accepted part of the sport, with riders expected to handle the challenge of many different types of race course.  

© IWSA/ Robert Hajduk: Paula Novotna, reigning women's world champion

The rabbit start is a spectacular massed fleet start behind a high-speed powerboat, and a great way of kicking off a long-distance race. At the other end of the spectrum there are slalom races lasting just three or four minutes. With €10,000 of prize money up for grabs, the winning male and female riders in Campione del Garda will need a full array of skills to reach the top of the podium. 

Competition will take place across a range of course formats and will incorporate upwind and reaching starts. The first race takes place on Thursday 1 June. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 31 May 2023 19:09
© 2022 International Wing Sports Association. All Rights Reserved