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Ensis Engadinwing 2024 Formula Wing Europeans - Day 5

by Jemima Crathorne 15 Jun 12:11 PDT 11-16 June 2024

Low cloud and a touch of drizzle made for a very atmospheric day in Silvaplana. With the wind not filling in until 14:00, there was sadly no time to run the highly anticipated Golden Ticket long distance race.

This meant that Repschlager [GER] and Jeremiah Mcdonald [NZL] could keep their 10th place spots and thus progress into the semi-finals. As the lightwind filled in, the racing was incredibly exciting, with critical importance of staying in the pressure and making no mistakes. Executing this to perfection were our two new European Champions, Mathis Ghio [FRA] and Maddalena Spanu [ITA].

Battle for bullets

Going into her semi-finals with a one-win advantage was Anais Desjardins [FRA]. As a relative newcomer to wingfoil racing, the Frenchwoman was managing her expectations as she went into the medal series. The recently retired Formula Kite racer proceeded to execute two remarkable races, making decisive tactical choices that worked in her favour. Winning both races put her through to the final alongside Hayley Chan [HKG], who had multiple tough battles against fellow teammate Wai Yan Ngai [HKG] and Spain's Iset Segura, both of whom won races, keeping their semis alive for multiple nail-biting rounds. Chan and Desjardins joined Orane Ceris [FRA] and Maddalena Spanu [ITA] for the final.

Already on two race wins after a dominating performance all week, Spanu then managed to win the one race she needed to secure the European title. A delighted Spanu remarks, "The conditions were so hard, there were some really light winds out there. I saw slightly more wind on the left side of the course, so I thought ok let's go and get it!" With low temperatures continuing to be an extra test for the riders, Spanu describes the challenges of being straight through to the final, "I got so cold waiting for the semis to finish, I was out on the water watching all the different girls win and tried to keep focused on the racing and stay warm." With the added motivation of being the first to return to shore if she won the race, Spanu went full throttle, winning her finals with just won race to become European Champion. "Now I'm already looking ahead to China, I'm going to train every day on the water and let's see what will happen when we get there!" adds the excited Spanu..

One and done

The men's semi-finals were wrapped up swiftly, with top seeds Bastien Escofet [FRA] and Alessandro Tomasi [ITA] winning their respective semis in just one race each. This allowed them to progress to the four-rider final, where they joined the Frenchmen Oscar Leclair and Mathis Ghio, the current frontrunner. With incredible racing from each of these riders all week, it was impossible to know which of these men would ultimately take the title. Tomasi was fast out of the blocks, holding a commanding lead all the way to the windward mark, but it wasn't long before a nail-biting showdown emerged between Ghio and Tomasi on the downwind leg.

Ghio reflects, "In the three minutes before the start, I saw a big gust and a big shift coming from the right-hand side, so we all decided to go on port. But Alessandro was the first to tack in good pressure with a nice lift." He adds, "I managed to find a good gust to make a comeback on the downwind and take the lead. It was really challenging; we can really feel the altitude here which makes it a lot of cardio. The first reach of the slalom was so tense, I pumped like hell to stay in front of Ale," With an almost synchronized final gybe it was shaping up to be a photo finish. With the final reach running parallel to the shores of Lake Silvaplana, it felt as if the spectators were on board with the riders, experiencing every moment of the high-speed battle. However, with an extra click of speed, Ghio won the one race he needed to be crowned European Champion. "That was a BIG final", sums up Ghio.

After an intense five days of racing, the riders have been put to the test in every way, getting faster and faster with every race. With two months until the next World Cup stop in China, the competition will be fierce as the battles continue!

Results Men

1. Mathis Ghio FRA GOLD
2. Oscar Leclair FRA SILVER
3. Alessandro Jose Tomasi ITA BRONZE

Results Women

1. Maddalena Spanu ITA GOLD
2. Marta Monge ITA SILVER
3. Hayley Chan HKG BRONZE

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