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2024 WingFoil Racing World Cup Turkiye - Day 1

by Andy Rice 22 May 13:39 PDT 22-26 May 2024
Audi e-foil competition in the late afternoon - 2024 WingFoil Racing World Cup Turkiye day 1 © IWSA media / Robert Hajduk

The WingFoil Racing World Cup Turkiye began today, although a lack of wind prevented the first race from going ahead. Instead the riders put their competitive instincts into an evening competition on Audi e-foilers, electric-powered foiling boards that fly above the surface at up to 30 knots.

  • 5 days of long-distance and short-course racing in Urla, Turkiye
  • Open competition with a wide array of different wing and foil equipment
  • Big changes in latest equipment, with many using double-surface wings
  • Defending men's and women's World Champions, Mathis Ghio and Maddalena Spanu, among the competitors
  • With no racing on day 1, riders compete on Audi e-foilers instead

Run, Rabbit!

As to the wingfoiling contest, there are 56 competitors registered from 16 countries. Today's challenge - now postponed to Thursday morning - was scheduled to be the double-score marathon race. With a target finish time of 30 minutes for the winner, and a high-speed rabbit start behind a powerboat planing at close to 30 knots, the riders begin with a reach across the wind before venturing on a square course for a cardiovascular workout on the aquamarine waters of Urla.

The sailing centre in Urla has been set up in cooperation with Fenerbahçe Spor Kulübü. Established in 1907 and best known for its internationally successful football team in Istanbul, Fenerbahçe's sporting interests go much broader than football. With the support and sponsorship of Audi Cars in Turkiye, this event and this new venue is harnessing the wave of interest and excitement in the fast-growing sport of wingfoiling.

Past performance means nothing

Returning to the circuit is men's World Champion, Mathis Ghio from France. He claims his past successes are no indicator of how he will perform this season. Despite winning the Wingfoil Racing World Cup circuits in 2022 and 2023, The French rider believes developments are moving so quickly that it's foolish to get too confident about future performance. "My past successes don't give me any confidence at all," he said in the morning. "We have seen a lot of changes, even for me. Changing wings, changing sponsors.

"Everybody has been working very hard this winter to get very good equipment, which are getting closer and closer in terms of performance. So that's why I don't have much confidence because I see everybody training a lot, working a lot on new equipment with their own sponsors. The racing scene now is really close and I think we'll have tight battles during this week."

A few riders used sheer hard work and high levels of cardiovascular fitness to pump their way up on to the foil in today's marginal conditions, including Polish rider and former Olympic windsurfing campaigner Karolina Kluszczynska. "If you're not dying, you're not trying," she laughed. There's no doubt that the fitter you are, the smaller the wing you can get away with and the faster you go - provided you don't stop foiling and sink into the water.

Double-skin developments

Meanwhile developments with wings continue at speed. Julien Rattotti used his double-surface Gong wing to great effect at the end of 2023, and the rest of the circuit sat up and took notice. "This is the game," said the French rider. "All the wing brands are working on increasing performance, but now it's not just developing new equipment but developing individual performance, improving our skills on the water.

"I trained a lot in Florida over the winter with Francesco [Cappuzzo] and Basti [Escoffet]. Last year the marathon race went well for me and I want to start here in Turkey with a win, but of course everybody wants to do a good performance at the start of the season and we don't know who is the best."

Nia Suardiaz comes into the season with high hopes after the Spanish rider won the final event of the 2023 season in Jericoacoara in Brazil. "That was such a cool event and it was nice to win there, so I'm hoping for good luck in this one too," said the teenager from Tarifa. "The sport is changing a lot all the time and I've seen a lot of new girls here and a lot of progress so we'll how it goes.

"I've done a lot of freestyle but no racing recently so it will take me a while to get my starts right again. I'm really looking forward to this venue, I've never been to Turkey before and it's a beautiful country that I would like to know better."

From the results of the marathon race the men will be seeded and organised into three equally weighted qualifying groups while the women will race as one group.

More information at wingfoilracing.com/2024worldcupturkiye

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