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Texel Island, The Netherlands

WingFoil Racing Marathon Worlds : Bastien Escofet and Maddalena Spanu claim first-ever titles

samedi 8 juin 2024Redaction SSS [Source RP]

The grand finale of the WingFoil Wingfoil Racing Marathon World Championship kicked off to an epic start as 363 vessels hit the start line for the 45th Edition of the Round Texel race. The wingfoil Wingfoil racers were joined by a variety of catamarans and windsurfers for the iconic Dutch tradition, with Texel delivering perfect ‘Dutch Summer’ conditions for the day. After a briefing with top tips by Olympic legend Dorian Van Rijsselberghe, the 40 wingfoilers from 7 countries were ready to hit the water and battle the world titles in the double counter finale, The Round Texel Race !

All or nothing in a French finale !

Heading into the fourth and final day, the points between the top five men were incredibly close. With the first-ever WingFoil Wingfoil Racing Marathon World title on the line, the stakes were high, and it all came down to the final race ! ‘Preparation is key.’ That was certainly the mantra for Bastien Escofet [FRA], a mere 2 points off the top spot. With a world title within reach, Escofet left no stone unturned, jumping in the car for a pre-race scout around the island the previous evening. His aim was to gather as much intel as possible about the lay of the land, noting the infamous shallow sections along the way. Despite Mathis Ghio [FRA] gaining an early lead, it wasn’t long before Bastien’s homework paid off ; “Mathis and Rattotti [FRA] were ahead, but they hit the bottom in the shallow section. I knew that I needed to stay high on my foil Foil #foil and not touch the bottom” exclaimed Escofet. “I had so much seaweed on my foil Foil #foil and it was really hard, but I managed to get through and was ahead.”

His French teammate, Oscar Leclair, was close behind, also managing to survive the shallows. The pair quickly proceeded to lock into an intense upwind dual, but it was Escofet’s superior upwind speed, evident throughout the whole week, finally came into play, giving him the critical edge into the 3rd gate. With quiet confidence and unwavering focus, the Frenchman won the race in a record Record #sailingrecord breaking 2 hours 2 minutes and 51 seconds ! “Incredible ! That’s a good word to describe this race ! Sometimes I wasn’t even sure if I was going the right way, but I made it and I’m so happy I won” enthused Leclair with sheer joy. Ultimately, it was Bastien Escofet who took the World Title, delighted first and foremost for his friend and close rival, Oscar ; “I’m so stoked for him to be on the podium as well. I had no idea I had won the event, I was just fully focused on the race at all times, there was so much current and so much happening. The seaweed was difficult, I even jumped at points to shake it off” described Escofet in disbelief and delight at his new World Title.

The championship was settled by a nail-biting tie-breaker between Bastien Escofet and Julien Rattotti, with the Round Texel race serving as the decider. After an impeccably consistent performance all week, Rattotti’s crash at gate 2 put him deep in the fleet. The determined Frenchman fought hard to get back up on the foil and continue his race. He exclaimed, "I was pushing so hard to come back !" Managing to work his way up through the fleet to secure a 3rd place finish in the race just behind Escofet. With a comeback like that, it won’t be long until we see him at the top of the podium.

The Round Texel race pushed riders to their very limits, serving as a true test of endurance. For Jeremiah Mcdonald, a deflated strut before the first gate quickly transformed the race into an endurance challenge unlike any other. The up-and-coming rider from New Zealand showcased remarkable willpower and determination as he reinflated his wing with his own lungs every 15 minutes throughout the entire race. Jeremiah’s notable performance is a testament to his endurance and tenacity, qualities that are essential in the demanding discipline of marathon racing.

Maddalena Spanu shows the men how it’s done !

After an intense 3 days of sharing out bullets amongst the women, it was anyone’s guess who would be the ultimate champion ! It was Germany’s Julia Repschlaeger who came flying out the blocks with an impressive early lead, however the steadfast Maddalena Spanu didn’t let off the gas and came through in full force gaining an incredible lead. The elated young Italian couldn’t believe her luck as she finished the race, “I’m so happy that I won ! It was so difficult with the 6.2m wing, it was so big and the wind was so strong. It was so hard, especially on the side of the island with such big waves.” Not only did she overtake her fellow female competitors on her lap to victory, but also many of the men too ; when told she had finished in front of her brother, Nicolo Spanu, she was lost for words in disbelief.

In a surprising battle for second were two newcomers to the racing scene, Bowien Van Der Linden from the Netherlands and France’s Anais Desjardins. Both riders were uncertain about what to expect from the racing and where they would stand amongst a more experienced fleet. Van Der Linden expressed, "I’ve enjoyed this event so much. It’s been more and more fun with every race !" She added, "I had such a bad start, but managed to overtake on the upwind. It was amazing racing alongside all the catamarans and even overtaking them. The battle with Anais was so good, we kept overtaking each other and I think that made us both faster as we were pushing until the very end.”

Fresh out of her Olympic Formula Kite campaign, Desjardins has been excited to start her new quest in the WingFoil Wingfoil racing world ; "with a bad start to the regatta, I knew I had no room for mistakes if I wanted to be on the podium," Anais remarked. "Today was incredibly tough. I hit the bottom and had to walk for quite a while because of my height. But I got back on my foil and managed to overtake three or four competitors with my upwind speed. I tried to eat some cereal bars on the way to keep my energy up, which I think made a difference," she shared. "Going into this regatta, I knew I had the potential to achieve something great, but you never really know until you’re out there on the racecourse." Her resilience truly paid off as she climbed the ranks to secure her place among the on the podium. "I can’t ask for more. I’m so happy with my result. It’s great to be on the podium again ! This event was all about resilience, and that’s what Formula Kite racing taught me. The first two days were particularly challenging, but I pushed through."

The WingFoil Racing Marathon World championships have proven to be an essential part of the overall development of Wingfoiling. This style of racing has tested riders and their equipment to the very limits. The excitement is already high with the next event just around the corner and riders are barely catching their breath, before we see them again battling on the epic waters of Silvaplana for the European Championships.

written by event reporter Jemima Crathorne

RESULTS MEN

  • 1. Bastien Escofet FRA 12 p
  • 2. Julien Rattotti FRA 12 p
  • 3. Oscar Leclair FRA 14 p

RESULTS WOMEN

  • 1. Maddalena Spanu ITA 8 p
  • 2. Bowien Van Der Linden NED 14 p
  • 3. Anais Mai Desjardins FRA 21 p



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