Photos by Svetlana Romantsova
Mathis Ghio Steps onto the Podium at the GWA Wingfoil World Cup
Last weekend, Mathis Ghio took on the world’s best in Dakhla, Morocco. By the last horn, the 18-year-old had seized 2nd place overall in rankings for Men’s Racing. Next up is Tarifa, as Ghio has his eyes set on gold. Action on this leg of the GWA Wingfoil World Tour kicks off Dec. 27-30.
Was this your first time wingfoiling in Dakhla, Morocco?
It was my very first time in Dakhla and it’s truly an amazing place for wingfoiling. I arrived there three days before my competition to train on site. The waves were so clean in the morning, so I woke up early so that I could have a 2-3 hours session of surf foiling. The wind usually kicked off around 1-2 p.m., so I had just enough time to grab something to eat and then I was right back out on the water with my wing having fun in gorgeous waves all afternoon.
How were the wind conditions for the event?
During the first day of the World Cup the waves were excellent, so the organizers decided to start the Cup with the surf freestyle action. During the first day, all the elements were there. The surf freestyle event format was judged on one trick and two surfs in the waves. For the two following days, the wind was a little bit shy, so the format became only two surfs in the consistent waves.
During the two last days of competition, the forecast was for smaller waves and stronger wind. The organizers ran the races in the stronger winds near to the shore, so that the racing could be livestreamed. It was a bit complicated because the wind was disturbed by the coastline, making it pretty gusty and tricky, but we managed to do some sick races!
Taking into account the wind conditions, what advantage do you feel the A-Series Glide gave you?
During the event, I used the A-Series in both formats – surf-freestyle and races. In surf-freestyle, there were multiple advantages to the Glide. During my tricks, the stiffness of the wing allowed me to get higher, land smoothly on the water and get back on the foil really quickly! During the surfing, even if the wind was gusty, I felt totally free with my movements in the waves. My wing was so stable and light in neutral position, so I was able to focus completely on my moves and I was in the zone, concentrating on my turns.
As you get to know the Glide better, what do you feel is its main strength?
For me, its main strength, without any doubts, is its stiffness. The wing is always perfectly in front of me and never twists. It allows me to accelerate at first contact with a gust, while other riders are losing some seconds with a twisting wing which accelerates more slowly.
During races, the A-Series wing was so stiff. It allowed me to push strong competitors, like Titouan Galea, out of their comfort zones. The battles during all the races were pretty tight and intense between the two of us. We had the same speed during reachings, but during the upwinds and downwinds (the two courses where the wing plays a very big role), I had a better angle compared to him, with the same speed. For the GWA race riders, ALUULA wings are looking like they will revolutionize this sport!
What was the most nerve wracking part of the competition for you?
During races, the A-Series wing was so stiff. It allowed me to push strong competitors, like Titouan Galea, out of their comfort zones. The battles during all the races were pretty tight and intense between the two of us. We had the same speed during reachings, but during the upwinds and downwinds (the two courses where the wing pI had two nerve wracking events during this competition. The first one was during the first races. The tide was really low and some lines from fishermen’s boats were in the middle of our race course. We had to be very focused during the whole race to avoid the ropes, as we were travelling full speed and didn’t want to end up in a very big crash. Fortunately, the race committee removed them after the first two races.lays a very big role), I had a better angle compared to him, with the same speed. For the GWA race riders, ALUULA wings are looking like they will revolutionize this sport!
The second nerve wracking moment was a strategy battle during the second qualification race. I rounded the downwind mark 10 meters behind Titouan. We were together in the lead and the upwind leg was ahead of us. The wind was favorable, so I chose to tack in first because I wanted to be first in the heading wind. Titouan followed me a few seconds after, so I was in front of him but a dozen of meters downwind of him. Titouan was trying to accelerate to block my wind, but I was pumping to gain a maximum upwind angle. I managed to pass in front of him with this maneuver and to win that race.
What was the best part?
The best part of this event was the very long and smooth surfs in the perfect waves of Dakhla. I really enjoyed them. They will be rolling through my mind for a long time! I also enjoyed winning all my qualification heats and a few final races with the best riders in the world.
How do you feel about the next event?
I won’t be competing in Brazil this year, so my next event will be Tarifa at the end of December. I’m really excited for more action. I’ll have to train on my freestyle moves and also work on perfecting my skills in racing to take my revenge on Titouan!