Advertisement Ports Group Wingfoil Racing World Cup Abu Dhabi
Ad Ports Group Wingfoil Racing World Cup Abu Dhabi – Overall
by Andy Rice Mar 19 8:26 AM PDT
15-19 March 2023
Winners in Abu Dhabi – Ghio and Novotna – Ad Ports Group Wingfoil Racing World Cup Abu Dhabi © IWSA / Robert Hajduk
After three intense days of competition, the Ad Ports Group Wingfoil Racing World Cup Abu Dhabi ended without a race on the final day due to lack of wind.
The wearers of the yellow bibs, Paula Novotna (CZE) and Mathis Ghio (FRA), each won the titles for women and men. The 2022 world champions continue to set the pace in this rapidly evolving sport, although both riders know their lead is waning. The performance gap is closing while the rest of the fleet continues to make rapid improvements.
The gap is closing
Ghio had been looking forward to competing on the final day in the innovative Medal Series format already successfully introduced to the kitefoil racing world. “It’s frustrating not to compete in this final race in the Medal Series. It would have been exciting. But still I’m super excited to win the first big event of the season in Abu Dhabi.”
The Frenchman admitted that winning is becoming increasingly difficult as the level of his rivals continues to rise. “Looking back to 12 months ago the level is so much higher, both the equipment and the techniques. Tacking on small foils wasn’t possible a year ago but the whole fleet is making big improvements which is exciting to see.”
Luca Franchi (ITA) had won the yellow jersey for the first part of the week but ended up second overall with Mateo Dussarps (FRA) third.
Raw skills are no longer enough
Paula Novotna has relied on her raw wingfoiling skills and sheer speed to keep her at the top. Now that other riders like Karolina Kluszczynska (POL) and Orane Ceris (FRA) are starting to beat the Czech, Novotna needs to focus on new skills. “I need to devote more time to racing,” said Novotna, also the reigning freestyle wingfoil world champion.
“I don’t have much experience in racing. I can just go really fast and that’s my advantage because I spend a lot of time on the water and I think I have a lot of experience with the foil. But I am. I lack racing experience, I lack tactics, I lack all strategy and these are things I need to learn.
“But this week I’m very happy that I improved my upwind skills. That was a weak point for me, and sailing in light winds wasn’t my strong point either. So I’m very proud that I managed to win the event.” Kluszczynska, who competed in her first wingfoil race, finished second and Ceris third overall.
Wingfoil racing on an upturn
After three days of great racing at Al Mirfa Beach, the fleet of international riders have learned a lot about what it takes to complete a variety of race courses in light winds. It was a spectacular way for this new sport to make its competitive debut in the UAE.
The next time the wingfoil fleet meets for a World Cup, it will be in Campione on Lake Garda in early June. The event is also a qualifier for the ANOC Beach Games to be held in Bali later this summer. Wingfoil racing continues to gain strength as its appeal becomes increasingly global.
1. Mathis Ghio FRA 13.5 hours
2. Luca Franchi ITA 23p
3. Mateo Dussarp’s FRA 23p
1. Paula Novotna CZE 16p
2. Karolina Kluszczynska POL 22p
3. Orane Ceris FRA 32p
For full results and more event details, visit wingfoilracing.com/2023worldcupabudhabi