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  • US’s Moona Whyte closes out maiden world title at third stop in Morocco
  • Battle for men’s crown goes down to the wire as Wesley Brito triumphs
  • Young American Cash Berzolla lands event win in Dakhla with stellar outing

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Dakhla Presented by Armstrong Foils
Oum Lamboiur, Westpoint
22 September—01 October, 2023

The US’s Moona Whyte and Cape Verde’s Wesley Brito won the first-ever world titles in the Wave discipline on the GWA Wingfoil World Tour in Dakhla, Morocco.

Both athletes had won the discipline’s first stop of three in Cape Verde and came from behind in their heats to give them the vital wins they needed to secure the coveted crowns at Dakhla’s Westpoint.

“I really can’t believe it right now,” said Whyte. “I’m kind of shocked, but really happy to take the win in the first wingfoil world tour in the waves. I love this sport and yes I’m really surprised. It was definitely a tough one. I was surprised to make it through in the heat, but yes, I’m super-stoked.”

For Brito the chance battle in the waves was a dream come true and he was delighted to land the world championship title.

“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me in wingfoiling, so I’m feeling really, really great,” said Brito. “I always wanted to compete in the waves and this year it was decided to split waves from freestyle. Where I live there are only waves, so I was really looking forward to this chance.”

Filled with drama

Day three of the GWA Wingfoil World Cup Dakhla, presented by Armstrong Foils, saw the compact women’s fleet of five finally get their chance to get on the water. The Netherlands’ Bowien van der Linden opened her account with a surprise win against Whyte, though it was not an elimination round.

That ensured Whyte came up against Spain’s Nia Suardiaz in the semi-final. Both were equal on points for the title, with the one who came out ahead in the contest destined to lift the crown.

It was a heat filled with drama that would have been worthy of the final. Whyte was out of the blocks fast and put two good wave scores on the board before she fell in a wave, broke her leash and lost her wing, losing valuable time.

Suardiaz got her nose in front on the leaderboard. But Whyte’s huge wave score of 6.90 out of a possible 10 in the dying seconds dramatically landed her the win, and with it the world title.

The win earned Whyte a place in the final against Van der Linden for the decider in Dakhla. Whyte showed why she had already become world champion. She took the event win, linking her turns and carving in the critical section of the wave, putting a cherry on the cake.

The men’s contest shifted into high gear in the quarter finals, with the world title contenders needing to perform to keep their hopes alive.

Cash Berzolla (USA) was already one of the stars of the show. He continued his charge in the quarter-final against the top-ranked France’s Hugo Marin. The Frenchman simply could not match the blistering pace of Berzolla, 17, with two nine-point plus wave scores. The defeat ended the Frenchman’s world title dreams.

Blistering pace

Another Frenchman, Clement Roseyro, was the next to see his title hopes evaporate. The winner of the second wave stop in Rio de Janeiro, France’s Malo Guénolé, 18, put paid to his countryman’s ambitions of wearing the crown with another stunning performance.

The young Corsican, Noe Cuyala, came up against yet another world title contender, Wesley Brito. Their heat was banger, but Cuyala, 16, did enough to win and apparently end Brito’s chances of winning the world championship.

But in a dramatic twist, Brito protested his rival’s scores. After a review, the judges decided to re-run the heat as they had missed Cuyala using his power handle during his heat-winning Backflip.

Cuyala came out firing for a second time. Brito found himself trailing as the time ticked down. But the Cape Verdean’s patience paid off, and he got the biggest set wave of the heat right at the end, giving him a 9.0 wave that earned the win and the title.

Brito’s celebrations were short-lived and he was soon back in the water for his semi-final. He came up against an on-fire Berzolla, whose electrifying style took the win and booked his place in the final.

League of his own

The other semi-final was a battle of the French teenagers— Guénolé against Axel Gerard. Guénolé was too strong, with his huge 9.67 wave score helping him reach the final.

The final was a repeat of the second Wave stop in Rio. The two biggest hitters hitters of the moment, the teenagers Guénolé and Berzolla, went toe-to-toe for the win in Dakhla.

Throughout the 25-minute deciding heat, they traded blows, throwing down innovative moves that kept them locked together only a faction of a point apart on the scoreboard.

Berzolla’s massive 9.57 wave score ensured he got his nose in front. Guénolé’s big 9.0 wave helped him close the gap, but Cash had done enough to give him the win by just 0.21 of a point.

“It was close in the final, too close for comfort,” said Berzolla. “That’s not how I want to win. We we trading on and off, but I didn’t know it was that close. I was waiting for the announcement and I heard it over the loudspeaker coming ashore. I was stoked and I can’t ask for more. He took me out in Brazil, so it feels good to get back at him.”

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Lukas K Stiller

GWA Wingfoil Wave Men’s World Champion 2023
1 Wesley Brito (CPV)
2 Hugo Marin (FRA)
3 Cash Berzolla (USA)

GWA Wingfoil Wave Women’s World Champion 2023
1 Moona Whyte (USA)
2 Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
3 Bowien van der Linden (NED)

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Dakhla 2023 results

1 Cash Berzolla (USA)
2 Malo Guénolé (FRA)
3 Axel Gerard (FRA)
4 Wesley Brito (CPV)

1 Moona Whyte (USA)
2 Bowien van der Linden (NED)
3 Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
4 Orane Ceris (FRA)

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