Saturday, 25 May 2024 16:53

Ghio slows down to keep his lead

© IWSA media/ Robert Hajduk: Ghio (yellow bib) controlling from the back © IWSA media/ Robert Hajduk: Ghio (yellow bib) controlling from the back © IWSA media/ Robert Hajduk

- Six heats in the finals to decide which nine riders get into Sunday's medal series
- Rattotti, Tomasi and Klusznzynska among today's race winners
- Ghio and Suardiaz take pole position and yellow bibs for medal series climax
- But... revolutionary 'Golden Ticket' format means ANYONE can still win overall
- Negative publicity over plastic waste looks set to trigger environmental change in the Izmir region of Turkiye

Mathis Ghio was beaten by a few riders on day four of the WingFoil Racing World Cup Turkiye, yet still the reigning world champion has managed to hold on to the yellow bib for the medal series climax on Sunday.

Across the six races the top-seeded Frenchman won just one of them, an unusually low hit rate for Ghio. In the lighter-wind morning session, Luca Franchi from Italy took the first win followed by two for Frenchman Julien Rattotti. A lot of riders had been caught out by the sight of breeze that seemed quite strong but proved to be much less in reality.
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© IWSA media/ Robert Hajduk: Julien Rattotti briefly held the lead but still goes to final in second place

With the breeze blowing between 8 to 12 knots, Ghio admitted that he would prefer more breeze for the afternoon session. And so it proved, with the wind kicking in at around 18 knots. This time Alessando Tomasi took two of the three bullets in the windy afternoon session, with Ghio taking the other.

Despite the lack of wins on the board, Ghio was very satisfied with his day. “The goal was always to be in the top three, not to push too hard and just be consistent, even if I was not winning the race,” he explained. “I think that was the difference between my approach and what Julien [Rattotti] and Ale [Tomasi] were doing. They were getting better races than me, for sure, but they made way bigger mistakes than me, and more often.
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© IWSA media/ Robert Hajduk: Crashy moment for Jack Bennett from New Zealand


“For example in the last race I got a plastic bag that was completely stuck on my front wing, and I accepted to not jump, not take the risk to crash during that jump. So I accepted to lose two or three knots of speed and to let Ale go because we were side by side. We were so close. The other guys behind us were like, 50 or 75 metres away, so I said, yeah, second place is enough.”

Ghio’s conservative strategy was about placing the highest priority on keeping the yellow bib that has been his since the beginning of the week. Rattotti briefly moved into the lead during the afternoon but with the yellow bib back in Ghio’s grasp he is now one race win away from taking the title in Urla.

Tomasi was encouraged with his strong wind speed in the afternoon. “It was super good, so much fun, crazy fights with Mathis,” said the tall Italian. “I had to pump a lot, and I have been working on my strength but I think I need more cardiovascular fitness.” As to whether he can take the fight to Ghio on the final day: “It’s going to be really hard because Mathis is a good racer. He really believes in himself so much, but I will work hard and let’s see.”
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© IWSA media/ Robert Hajduk: Lots of port v starboard situations at the start led to some protests later


Nia Suardiaz lost a race to Poland’s Karolina Kluszczynska after the Spanish rider lost her way on the course. “I didn’t notice that they had moved the course,” said Suardiaz. “So Karolina got past me but I managed to catch up the others and got second, so not too bad,” said the Spanish rider who has dominated this week. “I was enjoying the racing way more today because the wind was more consistent and there was less plastic in the water, so a nice day.”

Having built up a sufficient buffer on the leaderboard, Suardiaz sat out the final two races of the afternoon to preserve energy for Sunday’s medal series, when she will wear the leader’s yellow jersey.

Who would join Suardiaz in the four-rider final could only be decided after a protest between Kluszczynska and the 2023 world champion from Italy, Maddalena Spanu. With Spanu found to be in the wrong in a port-starboard situation, she was disqualified from a race that she won. This moved Kluszczynska up into second place which means the Polish rider takes her place in Sunday’s final alongside Suardiaz.
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© IWSA media/ Robert Hajduk: Karolina Kluszczynska grabs her place in the women's final


Following the criticisms by some riders of the plastic debris on the race course, on Friday evening Emrah Sürmen, the president of host venue Pro Sailing Academy, contacted the governor of Izmir to raise further awareness of the problem. “When I heard what the riders were saying, I was embarrassed and ashamed,” said Sürmen. “We work hard to be as environmentally aware as possible, which is why we have installed the solar panels on the roof to generate all the electricity we need.

“Plastic in the water is not something we can control. But now I have contacted the governor I hope what has happened this week at the Wingfoil Racing World Cup will be the start of a campaign to clear up the waters in the bay. When the riders return next year, I hope they will be able to enjoy great racing without fear of crashing because of plastic.”
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© IWSA media/ Robert Hajduk: Kluszczynska versus Spanu in the protest room


Aside from all the action at the front of gold fleet, everyone down to the very last-placed rider can still win the competition on the final day. That’s because of the Golden Ticket race, a long distance race on the final day for the whole fleet, except for the top nine riders who have already booked their place in the 10-rider medal series.

Whoever wins the Golden Ticket race earns that missing 10th spot in the final series. At the final event of 2023 last December, Venezuelan rider Jose Estredo Perez, better known as Golito, proved the potential of the final-day format. Golito started the day in 14th, won the Golden Ticket and proceeded to break his way through the the knockout rounds and into the final where he ended up winning bronze.
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© IWSA media/ Robert Hajduk: Cooling down in Urla
New Zealand rider Jeremiah Mcdonald was there in Brazil and is motivated to do his own version of a ‘Golito’ on Sunday. His message and motto for the final day: “Speed, stamina, strategy, Golden Ticket, let’s go!”



Mathis Ghio


14.6 pts


Julien Rattotti


19.4 pts


Alessandro Tomasi


22.0 pts



Nia Suardiaz


14.0 pts


Karolina Kluszczynska


30.0 pts


Manon Pianazza


31.0 pts

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© IWSA media/ Robert Hajduk: Who will win the coveted 'Golden Ticket' on Sunday?

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