GWA Tarifa Wing Pro 2021
by Chris Chaplow
The GWA Tarifa Wing Pro, event closed the 2021 world tour in Tarifa the wind capital of Andalucia, Tarifa, Spain from 27th - 30th December 2021. Previous world tour events were in La Franqui (France) Dakhla (Morocco), Fortaleza (Brazil).
The 2nd Tarifa Wing Pro 2021 consists of two different competitions. The main one is the Surf-Freestyle discipline with a total prize money of 10.000€. There is also the Surf-Race competition. 31 men and 8 women registered for the 2021 event. 21 athletes were from France, 8 from Spain and 4 from Italy.
Of the four women who competed in the 1st GWA Tarifa Wing Pro in December 2020 only Olivia Piana returned to Tarifa in 2021. Absent was kitesurfer Paula Novotna from the Czech Republic who had travelled from Dominican Republic to Brasil the previous week. Since Paula finished the season in 4th place in Surf-Race and 3rd place in Surf-Freestyle 300 and 780 points respectively behind the lead, this absence probably cost her the race championship title and Surf-Freestyle runner up. Eva Wyss and Laura Rudolph did not take part in the 2021 tour.
Of the eight quarter finalists of the 1st GWA Tarifa Wing Pro, Zdenek Maryzko (Czech Republic), Francesco Capuzzo (Italy), Balz Muller (Switzerland), Maxime Chabloz and Titouan Galea (Numea, New Caledonia) returned to Tarifa in 2021. Fernando Novaes (Brazil) and Michael Naf (Switzerland) were on the tour but not Tarifa and only Abel Lago (Spain) did not take part in the 2021 tour.
Tarifa Wing Pro was an exciting finale to the 2021 GWA Wing Pro season. World Champions in the 2021 Surf-Freestyle discipline and the 2021 Race discipline were crowned.
The 2021 competition camp was set up on Playa Chica next to the causeway and the old town of Tarifa. On the second day an exhibition event took place nearby in front of the El Balneario Chiringuito (beach bar) at southern end of Playa de los Lances Sur. This is where most of the 1st GWA Tarifa Wing Pro in 2020 took place.
The Balnario race location usually offers offshore flatwater with small waves rolling in from the southwest. The more sheltered natural inlet of the adjacent Playa Chica location is used if conditions are not suitable. In 2020 the event encampment was set up at the Plays Los Lances Sur location and in 2021 at the Plays Chica location.
Based on daily race reports by Gemma Hamaini
Day One - Womens Surf Freestyle Discipline
Monday 27th December was Day One of the Surf Freestyle Discipline.
The Women were first on the water with wind conditions ranging from a westerly 10 to 13 knots. The competition took place from Playa Chica. The full Women's Elimination round was completed, and the final was a duo battle between Olivia Piana from France a SUP champion (who returns to Tarifa after coming 3rd in the inaugural 2020 competition) and Bowien van der Linden from the Netherlands.
Bowien had already obtained sufficient points in previous events to claim the 2021 World Title. Her mission in Tarifa was to also claim the win at this last event of the season. Something that elluded her last year. Olivia Piana did not make it easy for Bowien. Olivia rode solidly, landing a clean Frontside 3 scoring 4.77 points, but Bowien responded with one of her own, topping her score with 5.97 points. Both women landed almost every trick attempt, but it was Bowien who finally claimed the win with an overall score of 14.5 points, over Olivia’s 13.03 points.
“I’m crazy happy, it still feels so surreal,” said Bowien. “I just went to Leucate to try out competing, and now look at the result! I think wingfoiling is going to be really big. I’m amazed at how fast it is growing. People can enjoy it everywhere, you don’t need 20 knots, you can ride in almost anything. That’s what makes it so great.”
The afternoon continued with the Men's Surf Freestyle Discipline Elimination, Rounds 1 and 2. All the men remain in competition, and on Day 2 the eliminations will begin with Round 3.
Day Two - Mens Surf Freestyle Discipline
Several attempts were made to start to the Race discipline first, but due to several changes in the race-course, the final call was made to switch to the Surf-Freestyle discipline. The judging criteria remained the same as on Day One, with the athletes given 12 trick attempts, with the top 3 tricks counting to points score. Heats were 9 minutes in duration with 3 minute transitions.
So the day began with the completion of Heat 33, which had started on Day 1. However the heat was called off early due to a sudden drop in wind. Mathis Ghio defeated Lilian Juppet by just a fraction of a point, allowing Ghio to advance to the Round 4.
There have been a great number of young up-and-coming athletes competing at this event, and for Heat 34, Lucas Roguet, just 14 years old, performed very well against fellow young rider Noa Cuyala. Roguet landed a clean Frontside 3 scoring 5.77 points and advanced to the next round.
Francesco Cappuzzo gave yet another unstoppable performance in Heat 36. His 6.9 point Frontside 3 is the best of the competition so far. He cleared his way to the next round comfortably, continuing his blistering form in recent competition.
Riccardo Zorzi (Italy) is another talented young rider showing significant evolution, and for Heat 37 he performed a clean array of tricks which allowed him to advance to the next round, defeating Sam Carentz (France). Malo Guenole (France) followed suit for Heat 38, defeating James (Spain) and advancing. Gregorio Pugliese (Italy) took a comfortable win for Heat 39, whilst Sebastiano Zorzi (Italy), brother of Riccardo advanced automatically for Heat 40 due to the draw. C. Hamon defeated Kane de Wilde (USA) for Heat 41, with the wind conditions stabilizing nicely throughout the afternoon.
Two French riders faced each other for Heat 42, where Hugo Marin (France) put together a better variety of high-scoring tricks, allowing him to advance to the next round, and eliminating his young competitor Chucho Nonnot from the competition. Axime Chabloz proved once again that he is a fierce competitor and he opened Heat 43 with an outstanding Backflip, scoring 8.27 points, the highest single trick score of the day. He advanced to the next round over Noa Legier.
Just as the competitors were nearing the end of Round 3, the wind conditions dropped suddenly, bringing the day of competition to an end. The skipper’s meeting was called for 10.30 hrs, with the first possible Day 4 start at 11.00 hrs.
Organizer of the Tarifa Wing Pro, Jaime Herraiz, stated.
“I’m very impressed with the amount of new riders we have seen this year at the Tarifa Wing Pro,” said Jaime. “The increase in the level of riding is incredible. There is a great vibe overall between everyone. This year we chose to organize the event in Playa Chica due to the conditions, and we are happy to be able to share this experience with the town of Tarifa and it’s people. The authorities have given us great support and we are truly grateful. The conditions have been tricky, but Tarifa always delivers so we have faith that we will be able to complete the event.”
Day Three - Tow-in Action
Day Three of the Tarifa Wing Pro was all about the tow-in action. The event ran an expression session in the strong waves in front of El Balnario whilst the athletes and crew waited for the right wind to restart the official competition.
18 athletes signed up to participate in the tow-in competition, and we saw some amazing surfing from riders such as young gun Malo Guenole, Titouan Galea from New Caledonia, Kane de Wilde from USA and Italian Riccardo Zorzi.
Malo Guenole won with some amazing surfing, great wave selection, and impressive back-flip to finish off the session.
“It was a really fun tow-in session,” said Malo. “The waves were closing a bit, but it was super fun with all the riders. There is no wind today, so this was the best alternative.”
Olivia Piana, one of the top female riders on tour, spoke about how wingfoiling is evolving, and why she loves it so much.
“I believe wingfoiling will become the biggest water sport ever,” explained Olivia. “You can foil in any conditions, you don’t need big waves or strong wind. You can go out on a lake, on a river, and in the sea of course. There are so many disciplines and so many ways to enjoy the sport. I like this sport because you can never be lazy with it.”
Day 4 being the last day of competition, the skipper’s meeting has been called for an unusually early 08.00 with the first possible start at 08.30 hrs.
Mens Surf-Freestyle discipline
Luck was on the side of the final day of competition of the Tarifa Wing Pro. The full Surf-Freestyle discipline was completed and the day ended the day crowning the new GWA Champions.
It was an early start, with the crew and athletes ready on the beach in the dark at 07.30 hrs. The levante (easterly) wind started to blow, giving 8 – 16 knots; sufficient to get the Surf-Freestyle Elimination going.
The last four heats of Round 3 were completed, wtih a tough face-off between Stefan Spiessberger and Balz Muller with both riders in fine form. Balz pulled out an outstanding Frontside 7 for his 9th trick attempt, scoring 9 points, the highest we have seen in this competition. This allowed him to advance to the next round over Spiessberger. Also passing through to the next round was Fabian Muhmethaler, Maryzko and Titouan Galea, who defeated Camille Bouyer leaving him out of the title-race for this year.
Young local rider Lucas Roguet blasted his way through Heat 49, defeating Mathis Ghio. This was followed by Julian Salmonn knocking out Francesco Cappuzzo in Heat 50, a major disappointment for Cappuzzo who still had a chance of becoming World Champion if he were to win this event, and if Titouan Galea did not advance further than Round 4.
Riccardo Zorzi and Malo Guenole are two very young riders with a promising future. Both are pushing the sport in incredible ways, and for Heat 51 they were close in points, but it was Zorzi who managed to gain a lead and advance through another round ahead of Guenole. Gregorio Pugliese also advanced over the youngest Zorzi brother, in Heat 52. Hugo Marin joined him in the next round after landing a nice Frontside 3 and eliminating fellow Frenchman C. Hamon. Maxime Chabloz has been riding solidly throughout this event and Heat 54 was no exception. His classic Backflip scored him 7.17 points and he advanced over Xavi Corr.
Balz Muller was fired up for Heat 55 where he faced local athlete Fabien Muhmenthaler. They were neck and neck, each throwing tricks very similar in points, but halfway through the heat Baltz landed an incredible 9.33 point Frontside 7, and stole the win. For the final heat of Round 4, Titouan Galea showed no mercy, landing trick after trick and securing his spot in the Quarter Finals.
Julian Salmonn has been showing some amazing progression at this event, and for Heat 57 he landed 5 of his trick attempts, gaining solid scores and allowing him to pass into the Semi-Finals, over local rider Lucas Roguet. Riccardo Zorzi is just 15 years old, and at each event he is showcasing some incredible talent in this new sport. For Heat 58 he went all in to defeat another Italian rider, Gregorio Pugliese. Zorzi landed a Frontside 3 and a Back Loop both with scores in the 6’s to lock down his spot in the Semi-Finals.
One of the most intense heats of the day was Heat 60, where Balz Muller faced our new World Champion Titouan Galea. Both of these athletes are legendary watermen, and a vital part of this fast-progressing sport. Titouan, having already secured the World Title for this year due to his lead in points, was now focused on winning this event. His Back-Flip scored him 8.2 points and he was locking down impressive scores, but Balz Muller was absolutely on fire. He landed a Radiculo 7 scoring 9 points, followed directly by a Frontside 7 scoring 9.5 points, leaving Titouan with nowhere to go. Muller advanced to the semi-finals with an overall score of 30.74, the highest we have seen in the event.
Riccardo Zorzi continued building upon his impressive earlier performance, landing the majority of his trick attempts and achieving 4 scores in the 6’s. Julian Salmonn made a great effort to catch up to him, but Zorzi closed the heat with a massive Frontside 7 scoring 7.73 points, opening the door to the final for the young Italian. The second Semi-Final of the day saw Balz Muller push hard once again, though not gaining scores as high as in the previous round. He gained a slight lead over Swiss Maxime Chabloz who couldn’t quite gain the scores he needed, and went through to face Riccardo Zorzi in the finals.
3rd place Final
Julian Salmonn and Maxime Chabloz hit the water at midday in the small final, to decide who would finish 3rd and 4th at this event in Tarifa. Salmonn started strong, but then crashed 6 of his trick attempts in a row. Maxime Chabloz seized the opportunity, and pulled out some outstanding tricks, including a Backflip, Backside 3 and a Frontside 3. He took the lead and grabbed the 3rd podium position for the Tarifa Wing Pro.
The final was between experienced waterman Balz Muller, and 15 year old up-and-coming rider Riccardo Zorzi. Balz wasn’t messing around for the final, and locked down an 8.03 point Backflip to get started. Riccardo Zorzi was fully focused for his first-ever final, and he threw down some massive tricks, with incredible height and execution. His Frontside 7 scored him 7.5 points, and together with his 3 other high-scoring tricks, he took the win by less than one point from Balz Muller. It was a truly incredible result for this 15 year old rider!
Women Race Discipline
There were 8 women registered to compete in the Race Discipline.
Elimination 1 Final
Olivia Piana blasted her way through the start of the first race of the day. She maintained a lead through each mark, and held on to it through the final pumping leg. Flora Artzner was hot on her heels and finished 2nd just a fraction of a second behind her. Orane Ceris managed to creep ahead from the rest of the pack, and finished the race in 3rd.
Elimination 2 Final
Olivia Piana rode yet another confident race, showing focus and determination as she managed once again to hold on to her lead throughout the race and another win. This time it was Orane Ceris who stormed through in second place, followed by Bowien van der Linden.
Men Race Discipline
With 35 men registered to compete in the Race Discipline, they were divided into two semi-final heats of 17 and 18 participants in each one. The top 18 then passed through into the final.
Elimination 1 Final
Mathis Ghio was unstoppable for the Elimination 1 final, as he sped first through the start first and held onto his lead throughout the entire race, not giving any of the other competitors a chance to steal the lead. Francesco Cappuzzo pushed his hardest to catch up to him but had to settle for second place. Finishing in 3rd, close behind was Maxime Chabloz.
Full championship results can be downloaded here
Media handles and hashtags for this event were @globalwingsports @tarifawingpro #GWAwingfoilworldtour #GWAwingfoil #Tarifawingpro #wingfoil
The event took place on the Playa Chica, close to the causeway and old town of Tarifa.
As a beach event it is open and free to all