Friday, 02 June 2023 19:39

Double success for the Spanu family

Double success for the Spanu family IWSA media / Robert Hajduk

77 riders compete off one moving start line for the long distance race
World Champion Mathis Ghio wins the race
Maddalena Spanu is first woman, while her brother Nicolo is second in the men
A second long distance race is started but later abandoned as wind fails

Day two of the Pascucci WingFoil Racing World Cup Campione del Garda 2023 was one for the Spanu family to remember. With all 77 riders starting from one rabbit start for the 30-minute long distance race, Maddalena Spanu won the women’s fleet and her brother Nicolo was second across the line in the men’s competition.

© IWSA media / Robert Hajduk: Mathis Ghio being chased hard by Nicolo Spanu

Waking up early for a 7am briefing and an 8am start, some bleary-eyed competitors were late getting to the start in time. But not Mathis Ghio. Not only was the reigning World Champion there in good time, but along with American foiling pioneer Johnny Heineken the French rider was pretty much first out of the gate. 

Race officer Mirco Babbini powered the ‘rabbit’ motor boat at 20 knots into the wind as the fleet poured across the wake of the boat and flew on a reach towards the first turning mark.

Ghio explained his reasons for choosing an early exit out of the line. “It wasn’t that windy, no more than 15 knots, so starting early gave you more of an upwind angle towards the first mark, and upwind gives you more power and speed in those conditions,” he said.

© IWSA media / Robert Hajduk: A high-speed rabbit start on Lake Garda

Although Ghio took an early lead, he was pushed hard all the way by the Italians Nicolo Spanu and last year’s winner in Campione, Francesco Cappuzzo. “Just before the finish there was a hole in the wind, maybe down to 9 knots, and I think I avoided it just in time, a bit more than Nico and Francesco, and that was enough to keep me ahead at the finish.” 

Heineken finished fifth, a satisfactory start for the American who decided to come over to Europe to test his racing skills against the current best in the world. “I’ve got some work to do on upwind, probably on my fitness,” laughed the 34-year-old trying to hold his own against the teenagers and 20-somethings that tend to dominate the front end of the fleet.

© IWSA media / Robert Hajduk: 30 minutes of hard graft in the arm-aching long distance race

“I can work on my upwind speed, maybe have a better angle,” said Heineken, a former kitefoiling world champion. “It’s definitely the harder you work the higher you go upwind, and you know it’s a lot of effort, so keeping up that work rate consistently for 15 minutes is pretty tough. So what I’m learning very quickly is I should probably be in better shape for this.”

Starting early once again out of the next rabbit start, Ghio took up the lead although was pushed hard this time by fast-improving British rider Rafferty Read. However, not long before Ghio was due to reach the finish line, a long way ahead of the bulk of the fleet, the race was abandoned as the morning Pelèr breeze turned increasingly fickle and patchy. Ghio, Read and the other front runners were massively frustrated to have worked so hard only to see a potential result melt away.

© IWSA media / Robert Hajduk: Satisfaction and frustration for British rider Rafferty Read

A family celebration back on shore at Univela Campione for the Spanu family however, as mum and dad rushed to congratulate Maddalena and Nicolo for their first-race successes. Second in the women’s race was recently crowned European Champion from Spain, 16-year-old Nia Suardiaz, and France’s Kylie Belloeuvre in third.

© IWSA media / Robert Hajduk: high precision manoeuvre from world champion Ghio

The result of the long distance race has now been used to split the men into four qualifying groups, while the women will now compete off their own start line as the racing format moves into six to seven-minute sprints. First race is scheduled for another early morning start on Saturday to catch the best of the Pelèr breeze.

Last modified on Friday, 02 June 2023 19:47
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