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GWA Wingfoil World Cup Cape Verde - Winners crowned in epic Cape Verde waves

by GWA Wingfoil World Tour 21 Feb 02:50 PST 16-25 February 2024
Bowien Van Der Linden, Elena Moreno, Moona Whyte and Nia Suardiaz - GWA Wingfoil World Cup Cape Verde 2024 © Lukas K Stiller

Spain's Elena Moreno staged a dramatic upset when she defeated reigning world champion, the US's Moona Whyte, at the opening stop of the GWA Wingfoil World Tour's Wave discipline in Cape Verde.

In huge set waves, Moreno battled through falls close to the rocky point to get the better of the US veteran, Whyte, who had seemed almost untouchable in the waves after winning the the GKA Kite-Surf event just a day earlier.

"It's a pleasure to be here in the conditions we have had," said Moreno. "I feel now that I have had to assimilate a lot of feelings in a short space of time. But for sure I'm having fun. The conditions were awesome; a really nice experience. Lots of crashes and lots of nerves to handle and it's an experience I'm not going to forget."

France's Malo Guénolé defeated his close friend and rival Cash Berzolla (USA) in a tight battle that saw both athletes push the Wave discipline to the limits in a firing Ponta Preta that offered some of the best waves ever seen in competition.

"It's like a dream come true," said Guénolé. "Last year I couldn't compete because I had school exams and I was so frustrated. So this year I came and the waves were firing even more. It feels pretty good to win the first event of the season in some of the best conditions I have ever seen in my entire life. This place is crazy."

Day 2 of the GWA Wingfoil World Cup Cape Verde saw the competition again blessed with pulsing two-metre swells with a 15 second period and stronger 20 knots breezes that were perfect for the contest.

All guns blazing

Maui-based Cash Berzolla, ranked third in the world, set the tone early on with a huge heat in which he scored a perfect 10-point ride backed up by a 9.87. His innovation in the intimidating double head-high sets was remarkable, with deliberate power slides of his foil on the faces.

One of the day's biggest upsets came when the world champion, Cape Verde's Wesley Brito, was defeated by the French teenager Axel Gerard. It ended Brito's run and severely dented his chances of defending his crown.

Berzolla came out all guns blazing again in his quarter final against France's Benoit Carpentier, last year's runner-up in Cape Verde. Another 10-point ride from Berzolla helped end the run of Carpentier.

In his quarter final Guénolé was not to be outdone and he landed his own 10-point ride, impressing the judges with his extreme carving on the faces in the critical sections of the waves.

The Maui-based Canadian Finn Spencer had the unfortunate duty of facing his on-fire buddy, Berzolla, in the semi-final. The American's 9.53 and 8.63 rides were just too strong for Spencer.

Guénolé came up against the South Africa Nathan van Vuuren who had enjoyed a stellar run tor reach the semi-final. But the Frenchman had got the conditions dialled and his big scores booked a place in the final.

Bumps and bruises

The final was a re-run of the closing Wave event of the last season in Morocco when Guénolé and Berzolla faced-off, with the American winning. This time Guénolé turned the tables, though only a fraction of a point separated the pair in the end. Berzolla had pulled out all the stops, even ditching his wing on the last wave as he tried to pull into a barrel.

"You always want to win, but second place, we'll take that," said Berzolla. "And I got to surf in a empty line-up in Ponta Preta with Malo in pumping conditions. You can't really ask for much more. I'm really stoked. I'm definitely walking away with a few bumps and bruises but I hope the show was fun to watch."

The women's side of the draw was lit up by Elena Moreno. Her no-holds-barred riding in the intimidating conditions was breathtaking. The Fuerteventura-based Spaniard even continued one heat with a broken wing after going over the falls.

Morena defeated her fellow countrywoman and multiple world champion Nia Suardiaz convincingly in the semi-final. In the other semi-final Moona Whyte only just got the better of the Netherlands' Bowien van der Linden by a fraction of a point to advance.

In the final, Moreno again came out firing in an apparent death-or-glory strategy. The Spaniard took a hard fall at the start, but her commitment was rewarded by the judges later in the heat with some big scores that gave her a healthy win over Whyte.

"We had classic Ponta Preta conditions and the waves were amazing," said Whyte. "It was a tough competition. I'm so happy for Elena taking the win. I was really stoked to have the final with her. She was just ripping out there. I had a lot of fun at this event."

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Cape Verde 2024 results

Men

    1. Malo Guénolé (FRA)
    2. Cash Berzolla (USA)
    3. Nathan van Vuuren (RSA)
    4. Finn Spencer (CAN)
Women
    1. Elena Moreno (ESP)
    2. Moona Whyte (USA)
    3. Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
    4. Bowien van der Linden (NED)

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