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Greek waters ready for the 2023 WingFoil Racing Europeans

by Marina Psychogyiou 26 Apr 18:37 BST 26-30 April 2023
2023 WingFoil Racing Europeans in Athens © IWSA / Markus Schwendtner

Over 35 wingers from 11 countries are ready to begin their challenge of the women's and men's titles at the 2023 WingFoil Racing Europeans in Athens.

Taking place from 26 to 30 April on Artemis beach, one of the best water sports venues in the Athens region, the event will award tickets for a woman and a man to compete at the ANOC World Beach Games which will be held in Bali later this summer and will be an important marker to gauge how equipment and techniques are progressing in this young and rapidly-developing sport.

In the women's competition, it seems that the one to watch is Karolina Kluszczynska (POL). Earlier in the year, during the 2023 AD Ports Group WingFoil Racing World Cup in Abu Dhabi, the former windsurfer from Poland, on her first competition and after a very short time on the wing, managed to challenge Paula Novotná's domination, taking the reigning world champion by surprise. Novotna (CZE), who has already secured her entry to the ANOC WBG, has not entered the European championship but Kluszczynska will still have to put a solid performance to be crowned European queen.

On her way she will have to fend off competition from the likes of Orane Ceris, worlds runner-up last year. The French winger has already qualified for Bali after solid performances in the 2022 season, as has Margherita Barro (ITA) who finished third overall on the 2022 circuit. WingFoiling is a rapidly growing discipline, and each event sees new debuts.

Maayan Davidovich (ISR), a seasoned windsurfing Olympian who is also president of the International Wing Sports Association, decided on the last moment to return to competition and take part at this European championship and is curious to see where she will stand.

The men's circuit has so far been a face-off between the best of France and Italy. Mathis Ghio's (FRA) dominance of the final day of competition in Brazil last December was just enough to give the young Frenchman the overall world title ahead of the older and bigger rider from Italy, Francesco Cappuzzo (ITA). Ghio went on to win in Abu Dhabi and while Capuzzo was not there, another Italian, Luca Franchi, seriously threatened him up to the last day of the event.

The French have a strong and keen squad, a number of whom have emerged out of the Olympic windsurfing circuit and decided that wingfoil racing is where their professional future lies. So serious they seem to bem that they have arrived in Greece with the coach, the only country to do so.

The local interest will focus on young windsurfer Petros Kontarinis (GRE) who leads a five-strong Greek team. Kontarinis, already 2-times European champion in windsurfing, is a literally at home at the Athens Watersports Club and is keen to perform to his potential in the first major international competition organized by the club. The Athens Watersports Club was founded only 7 years ago and came to cover a long-standing void in the area, developing 'newer' disciplines like kitefoiling, foiling windsurfing and more recently wingfoiling.

There's still an enormous diversity of equipment on the wingfoil racing circuit, with the top riders always learning new waterstart techniques to enable them to stand on smaller boards powered by ever-smaller foils. The smaller the equipment, the less hydro and aero resistance for better top-end speed - but all at the expense of more difficult take-off techniques.

Since the opening event of 2023 season in March at the idyllic Al Mirfa beach near Abu Dhabi, the professional riders have been working closely with the wing and board designers to produce more efficient equipment for the coming season. It will be interesting to see who has made the best use of the meantime to improve their take-off and top-end speed.

Competition will take place across a range of course formats and will incorporate upwind and reaching starts. The first race takes place on Thursday 27 April.

To follow the action, visit the event microsite:

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