WHAT A YEAR TO BE: A WORLD TOUR MANAGER...

Pushing through 2020 with GWA Wingfoil World Tour manager, Tom Hartmann

Photo: Verena Gleichentheil

WHAT A YEAR TO BE: A WORLD TOUR MANAGER...

Pushing through 2020 with GWA Wingfoil World Tour manager, Tom Hartmann

Photo: Verena Gleichentheil

The Global Wingsports Association came into being in early 2020 when some of the biggest wingsport gear manufacturers pushed to have an independent association to represent all aspects of the industry. The initial aim is to bring more people into wingsports by helping maintain and develop water access and support the evolution of school infrastructure and training. Carrying forward the successful experiences of the Global Kitesports Association (GKA - partner association), the GWA will also promote all professional competition disciplines.

Jim Gaunt caught up with GWA World Tour manager, Tom Hartmann, after completion of their first Wingfoil World Tour event in Fortaleza, Brazil in November. The Austrian was deep in plans for the Tarifa Wing Pro, the GWA's second event that will squeeze tightly into the last days of 2020!

BIO: TOM HARTMANN

At home in Mauritius / Photo: Talis Rain Tonkin

Born in Vienna, Tom has lived on Mauritius for six years where he also runs his own company, Sion Mauritius, organising watersports holidays. A professional windsurfer on the European and World Tours for eight years, an injury at the beginning of 2009 saw him given the chance to fill in as race director / head judge for a season and since then he's been deeply involved in the organisational side of professional wind sports.

He now has12 years experience of managing professional windsurfing events and in 2018 also took on the tour management role for the kite-surf, freestyle and hydrofoil freestyle disciplines on the GKA Kite World Tour. 'GWA Wingfoil World Tour Event Manager' was added to his list of responsibilities in 2020. As you can see from the images, he's also definitely got skills on the water, too!

Tom and friend, Manawa, Mauritius / Photo: Talis Rain Tonkin

Team GWA Brazil / Photo: Svetlana Romantsova

Tell us about your World Tour responsibilities please Tom.

I'm involved in the development of the tour and responsible for the coordination of athletes, crew and local organisers. I look after the planning, logistics and communication throughout the whole year and make sure everything is running properly on site.

You've watched windsurfing evolve for many years and kitesurfing from the beginning. How do you see wingsurfing evolving in comparison?

Wingsurfing is another level of evolution. The simplicity of a wing compared to a kite or a windsurf sail, alongside the ability to do the sport in a lot more spots and conditions, indicates huge potential. Using a wing is also great fun on land and snow! The learning curve is amazingly steep with access to already relatively advanced and user-friendly equipment, allows beginners get the hang of it very quickly.

Wingsurfing doesn't necessarily need to replace your windsurf / kitesurf / SUP / surf gear, but as an addition can turn mediocre conditions for any of these other sports into super fun sessions. I'm clearly hooked!

Titouan Galea riding a wave in close in front of the GWA crew and cameras at the Superfoil event in Fortalexa, Brazil / Photo: Svetlana Romantsova

How different would this year have looked for the GWA if it wasn't for Covid-19?

Different... that's for sure! We might have run some other events and more specially could have planned, prepared and promoted the Brazil event more as there was a lot of last minute organisation to pull it off. Especially in respect to the situation that any international events were facing this year, involving more travelling for athletes and crew, I'm quite happy; it was great that we were able to run the first official GWA Wingfoil World Tour event in Brazil, which did not look very likely in the earlier stages of the pandemic and gives hope for the tour in the near future. We also have the Tarifa Wing Pro coming up just before New Year, our second World Tour event of 2020, with even more riders wanting to participate in that. For 2021 we already have several tour stops in the calendar and our plan is to establish a quality tour that is sustainable with professional events and good prize money for the top athletes. We also want to give amateurs the opportunity to participate in entry fleets and be part of the event experience.

November's Superfoil in Fortaleza, Brazil was the first 'world tour' competition in wingsurfing. How much do you think the level went up with most of the competitors riding alongside each other for the first time?

There was definitely a special vibe as most of the athletes had only seen the tricks and surfing of each other online. They came coming from different backgrounds; surf foiling, kitesurfing and windsurfing, each bringing their own approach and style of wingfoiling. There was a lot of exchange in terms of tricks, surfing and gear. From day one they were all on the water non-stop, training and pushing each other. We could see everyone's level clearly rising within just the few event days; landing new tricks and sharpening their surfing skills. It was also important for us all to brainstorm as a collective of event crew and riders to share feedback on how to develop the sport and competition formats in the future. Everyone is bringing a lot of passion and we're all stoked to push it together. It's exciting times!

Captions: Action: Titouan Galea, winner of the GWA's Superfoil Brazil event, Fortaleza, November 2020

Competitors: Finalists and leading protagonists in wingfoiling this year - Titouan and Balz Müller

Photos: Svetlana Romantsova / GWA

Above: Titouan Galea, winner of the GWA's Superfoil Brazil event, Fortaleza, November 2020 / Photos: Svetlana Romantsova / GWA

November's Superfoil in Fortaleza, Brazil was the first 'world tour' competition in wingsurfing. How much do you think the level went up with most of the competitors riding alongside each other for the first time?

There was definitely a special vibe as most of the athletes had only seen the tricks and surfing of each other online. They came coming from different backgrounds; surf foiling, kitesurfing and windsurfing, each bringing their own approach and style of wingfoiling. There was a lot of exchange in terms of tricks, surfing and gear. From day one they were all on the water non-stop, training and pushing each other. We could see everyone's level clearly rising within just the few event days; landing new tricks and sharpening their surfing skills. It was also important for us all to brainstorm as a collective of event crew and riders to share feedback on how to develop the sport and competition formats in the future. Everyone is bringing a lot of passion and we're all stoked to push it together. It's exciting times!

Above: Finalists and leading protagonists in wingfoiling this year - Titouan and Balz Müller / Photos: Svetlana Romantsova / GWA

GWA SUPERFOIL BRAZIL - FINALS DAY

The GWA Superfoil at Fortaleza was a combined wingfoil freestyle and kite foil event, with several riders crossing over to compete in both disciplines. Get a flavour of the action and hear from event winner, Titouan Galea, in this short video:

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Do you have a best moment from that first event?

I can't recall a single moment, but just returning to tour life felt good with such an amazing bunch of people of athletes, crew and organisers, all passionate about making things happen with an unstoppable drive in such a difficult time. Thank you everybody!

Find the calendar of events and more, including coverage of the Tarifa Wing Pro at the end of December

WWW.WINGFOILWORLDTOUR.COM

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