VIDEO: Spain wins Waszp Slalom Games

Published on July 12th, 2022

The 2022 International WASZP Games is being held July 12-16 on Italy’s Lake Garda. As the second edition following its inaugural event in 2019, age divisions share the recognition for Super-Masters (over 50), Masters (over 40), Apprentice (26-39), Youth (20-25), and Junior (under 20).

The first day is allocated for slalom racing with the International Slalom Champion to be crowned. Then on July 13-16, fleet racing is held with the competitors split into two racing groups and one on-water coaching fleet, a new initiative by the class to help upskill sailors new to foiling.

The slalom championship, sailed in 15-18 knots of Garda goodness and a little more chop than is normal, was not decided until the final gybe of the final race in the best of three Grand Final series, providing a worthy warm-up for the fleet races.

With 170+ boats entered for the Games, organizers knew this would be a different beast to anything ever performed before, but completed all heats and finals completed within a 2.5-hour window. With 20 boat fleets for the heats and finals, the first reaching leg was stretched out to provide enough separation between the boats. The races were about 5 minutes and are all downwind, providing a great leveler across the fleet.

In the 6.9m division Aidan Simmons from Australia, and fresh off his Opti Worlds campaign, took out the event. After 14 races, the top 20 sailors made their way through to the finals. Again, showing the great diversity in the fleet, almost every division was represented, and 13 different nations made up the 20-boat final fleet. The best of three Grand Final series is an accumulated point score with no drops and winner take all.

The first race saw the protagonists feel each other out, with a good spread across the start line, finding the perfect place to start is tricky and as we have seen in SailGP, finding “pole position” is a race winning move.

Joan Costa from Spain is a previous WASZP European Champion and owned the boat, fighting off Enzio Savoini from Italy to lead at the first mark. Savoini had a moment while trying to fight off Sam Whaley from Great Britain and Anders Klippenberg from Norway. Costa was showing that leading from the front is easy, extending the advantage throughout the race until the final gybe where he under cooked the lay line to the finish and dropped off the foils, allowing fellow countryman Jaime Framis Harguidey to get very close at the finish. Sam Street from NZL and Enzio Savoini from Italy took 3rd and 4th respectively.

The second race showed just how up and down this type of racing can be; consistency would play a huge role in the overall Grand Final series. Both Street and Savoini found themselves back in the pack after the first turning mark and could not recover, finishing in the late teens. This race belonged to Costa, while Anders Klippenberg and Leo Maechler from Germany popped up to take 2nd and 3rd.

Going into the final race, Costa had more than one-hand on the trophy, but for the first time all Grand Final series, Costa was not leading at the first mark. Street took the honours, and with Costa back in the pack anything could happen. Whaley was making a late charge for the title in 2nd place until disaster struck, and he capsized on the 2nd to last gybe for the finish, all but taking him out of contention.

Costa by this stage had worked his way up to 2nd, and by the final gybe into the finish, all he needed was a clean maneuver and he would take the championship. However, this is not how the beast that is slalom racing works. Costa under cooked the lay line the same as he did in the opening race, and this time it was a bridge too far for him to soak down to the finish. Costa was running square to the wind, off the foils and fully loaded up trying to make the mark and capsized, letting Jaime Framis Harguidey through in 3rd, which proved enough to take the Championship.

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