Spain’s Elena Moreno staged a dramatic upset when she defeated reigning world champion, the US’s Moona Whyte, at the opening stop of the GWA Wingfoil World Tour’s Wave discipline in Cape Verde.

In huge set waves, Moreno battled through falls close to the rocky point to get the better of the US veteran, Whyte, who had seemed almost untouchable in the waves after winning the GKA Kite-Surf event just a day earlier.

“It’s a pleasure to be here in the conditions we have had,” said Moreno. “I feel now that I have had to assimilate a lot of feelings in a short time. But for sure I’m having fun. The conditions were awesome; it was a nice experience. Lots of crashes and nerves to handle, and it’s an experience I won’t forget.”

France’s Malo Guénolé defeated his close friend and rival Cash Berzolla (USA) in a tight battle that saw both athletes push the Wave discipline to the limits in a firing Ponta Preta that offered some of the best waves ever seen in competition.

“It’s like a dream come true,” said Guénolé. “Last year I couldn’t compete because I had school exams and I was so frustrated. So this year, I came, and the waves were firing even more. It feels pretty good to win the first event of the season in some of the best conditions I have ever seen in my entire life. This place is crazy.”

Day 2 of the GWA Wingfoil World Cup Cape Verde saw the competition again blessed with pulsing two-metre swells with 15 seconds and more muscular 20 knots breezes that were perfect for the contest.

All guns blazing!

Maui-based Cash Berzolla ranked third in the world, set the tone early with a huge heat, scoring a perfect 10-point ride backed up by a 9.87. His innovation in the intimidating double head-high sets was remarkable, with deliberate power slides of his foil on the faces.

One of the day’s biggest upsets came when the French teenager Axel Gerard defeated the world champion, Cape Verde’s Wesley Brito. It ended Brito’s run and severely dented his chances of defending his crown.

Berzolla came out all guns blazing again in his quarter final against France’s Benoit Carpentier, last year’s runner-up in Cape Verde. Another 10-point ride from Berzolla helped end the run of Carpentier.

In his quarter final, Guénolé was not to be outdone, and he landed his 10-point ride, impressing the judges with his extreme carving of the faces in the critical sections of the waves.

The Maui-based Canadian Finn Spencer had the unfortunate duty of facing his on-fire buddy, Berzolla, in the semi-final. The American’s 9.53 and 8.63 rides were just too intense for Spencer.

Guénolé came up against the South African Nathan van Vuuren, who had enjoyed a stellar run to reach the semi-final. But the Frenchman had got the conditions dialled, and his big scores booked a place in the final.

Bumps and bruises

The final was a re-run of the closing Wave event of the last season in Morocco when Guénolé and Berzolla faced off, with the Americans winning. Guénolé turned the tables this time, though only a fraction of a point separated the pair in the end. Berzolla had pulled out all the stops, ditching his wing on the last wave as he tried to pull into a barrel.

“You always want to win, but second place, we’ll take that,” said Berzolla. “And I got to surf in an empty line-up in Ponta Preta with Malo in pumping conditions. You can’t ask for much more. I’m stoked. I’m walking away with a few bumps and bruises, but I hope the show was fun to watch.”

Elena Moreno lighted up the women’s side of the draw. Her no-holds-barred riding in the intimidating conditions was breathtaking. The Fuerteventura-based Spaniard even continued one heat with a broken wing after going over the falls.

Morena defeated her fellow countrywoman and multiple world champion Nia Suardiaz convincingly in the semi-final. In the other semi-final, Moona Whyte only got the better of the Netherlands’ Bowien van der Linden by a fraction of a point to advance.

In the end, Moreno again came out firing in an apparent death-or-glory strategy. The Spaniard took a hard fall at the start, but her commitment was rewarded by the judges later in the heat with some big scores that gave her a healthy win over Whyte.

“We had classic Ponta Preta conditions, and the waves were amazing,” said Whyte. “It was a tough competition. I’m so happy for Elena taking the win. I was stoked to have the final with her. She was ripping out there. I had a lot of fun at this event.”

GWA Wingfoil World Cup Cape Verde 2024 results


1st Malo Guénolé (FRA)
2nd Cash Berzolla (USA)
3rd Nathan van Vuuren (RSA)
4th Finn Spencer (CAN)


1st Elena Moreno (ESP)
2nd Moona Whyte (USA)
3rd Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
4th Bowien van der Linden (NED)

Words: Ian MacKinnon
Images: Lukas K Stiller

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Sun 25th Feb, 2024 @ 6:30 pm

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