Polish challenge for the world champion

-Six short course races completed in 11 to 14 knots of warm wind
-Karolina Kluszczynska wins two races but Paula Novotna holds women's lead
-A perfect 6 bullets brings Mathis Ghio level for the lead with Luca Franchi

Six short course races in one afternoon, it was a busy second day of competition at the Ad Ports Group Wingfoil Racing World Cup Abu Dhabi.

In the women's fleet, new girl on the block Karolina Kluszczynska (POL) took a couple of races away from the reigning Paula Novotna (CZE). However the Czech queen bounced back with a perfect three from three in the afternoon to maintain the overall lead.

TORN WING

“The afternoon was windier, which made it easier to go fast,” said Novotna. “The earlier races were quite light, so we were pumping, pumping to keep moving. A little more pumping than foiling.”

Choosing the right equipment is always the biggest point of stress for the wingfoilers. Smaller foils and smaller wings are really fast in the stronger breeze, but will there be enough wind to keep you flying above the water? That's always the dilemma.

Kluszczynska chose her bigger foil for the early session and it suited her perfectly. “I was going well, and managed to win some races, but in the afternoon I made the wrong choice of foil and I was overpowered and not going to quick. So it was a difficult lesson to learn, but overall I'm pretty happy with my day.”

Her toughest moment came just before the start of the last race of the day. “It was about a minute before the start and I was going slowly towards the line when I caught some seaweed on the wing. I capsized and fell, and put my arm through the wing. I still raced the race, finished last, but I wanted to avoid a DNF in my scores.”

MAGNIFICENT MATHIS

The men were split across two qualifying fleets. Reigning world champion Mathis Ghio (FRA) scored six bullets from six races, and no one else came close to that level of consistency. Unlike others who were fretting about their choice of equipment, Ghio stayed with his same gear throughout the day. “I haven't changed anything since the start of the competition,” said the Frenchman, who was not so happy with his third place from the long distance race on day one.

“Today I was back at my best and I felt confident with my speed in the slightly stronger wind that we had today,” Ghio continued. “It was maybe 14 knots, but the wind here in Abu Dhabi is quite soft, not as much power in the wind as in colder venues like Lake Garda for example.”

SPLIT WIN FOR ITALIANS

In the other qualifying group, Luca Franchi (ITA) dominated the early session with three from three. But it was another Italian who owned the late session, Alessandro Tomasi (ITA) this time winning three from three in the slightly stronger breeze.

Franchi said he struggled more with the reaching starts of the afternoon session, from which he scored 7,2,2. “For me the upwind start is perfect, I am comfortable with that kind of start. It's much harder to be consistent with the reaching starts. I had a crash in the first race which is why I was seventh. The last race was super close at the finish, maybe I lost by just 1 metre. It was crazy!”

The man he lost to by a single metre was Tomasi who revelled in the stronger breeze of the late afternoon. “My equipment is good for strong wind, and the reach is my best angle so it was good for me getting to the first mark in first place, and then keeping the lead from there.”

Ghio has closed the gap to Franchi, with the French and Italian riders now on equal points at the top of the leaderboard. Mateo Dussarps (FRA) sits in third overall.

On Saturday the men's fleet is reorganised into gold and silver fleets for the beginning of the Finals series. A maximum eight races are scheduled, with the first start at 11:00 hours.

To follow the action, go to https://wingfoilracing.com/2023worldcupabudhabi.

RESULTS

Men

  1. Luca Franchi ITA 6p
  2. Mathis Ghio FRA 6p
  3. Mateo Dussarps FRA 10p

Women

  1. Paula Novotna CZE 6p
  2. Karolina Kluszczynska POL 11p
  3. Orane Ceris FRA 15p

Text Credits: Andy Rice
Photo Credits: IWSA/ Robert Hajduk
Video Credits: ICARUS Sports