He was the youngest person to win a GWA World Cup at just 15: meet Xavi Corr! This young Spaniard from Tarifa is a freestyle prodigy, mastering combos and innovative tricks with apparent ease. Junior World Champion in 2022 in Surf-Freestyle as well as Surf-Slalom, he won this year’s GWA Freestyle leg in Leucate, and is currently ranked 6th on the world tour in this discipline. But Xavi wants more. While he’s already focused on doing better in 2024, Xavi Corr talks to us about the meteoric rise of freestyle in recent months, and also tells us all about how he trains, how tricks are scored and his gear. Supported by FreeWing, Xavi also tells us about his favorite freestyle wings, including the Air V3 and the Air-Team to be released in 2024.
FreeWing Air-Team – Photo : @samuucardenas
Hi Xavi, welcome to TotalWing! Can you tell us a bit about your background in wingfoil and your already impressive list of successes?
I live in Tarifa, Spain which has great wind and so I was in the water all the time. My dad taught me kiting when I was seven and I was hooked. I always like to try different wind sports and I was lucky because Tarifa was one of the first places to have winging around so I just had to try it and because of my kite foiling and windsurfing, it was not too hard to pick up.
The main achievements are :
- World Junior Champion Freestyle (U16) 2022
- World Junior Champion Slalom (U16) 2022
- World Cup Winner Tarifa 2022
- World Cup Winner Leucate 2023 (Joint)
- Currently World ranking 2023 6th GWA
- Spanish Freestyle Champion 2022
Winning my home event at Tarifa World Cup was the highlight for sure, and I am the youngest to have won a World Cup event, so stoked to have won two world cups when I was 15.
Tarifa – FreeWing N-Team – Photo : @samuucardenas
At competitions this year, we’ve often seen you freestyling with the FreeWing Air V3, which offers a choice between soft and rigid handles. So, soft or rigid, which team are you on?
Now I mainly use hard handles because they are more direct, but I use to use soft handles lots, specially when learning new tricks and I might fall on top of the wing, soft landing is much better for sure. Having the modular handle system is great though, because with just two screws you can swap them around in no time for whatever suits best, so great if you are sharing a wing with your family and want to swap it around lots.
FreeWing N-Team – Photo : @samuucardenas
I remember earlier this year in Leucate, at the start of the combos, you had this very Air V3 in your hands when you tied for 1st place in the Surf-Freestyle comp of the stage. Can you tell us what you like about this wing in freestyle?
The freestyle competition is so crazy this year, with innovation tricks and everybody is pushing so hard. I was training a new clew first trick for Leucate and I found it much easier with the Air V3 to do this trick, so I mix and match the different wings to what I am trying to do in each competition. The Air V3 has a flatter canopy compared to my other wing and this really helped with the clew first tricks and also for horizontal rotations for the FS3 and 720. It has lots of direct power and so for me it is an amazing all round wing for freestyle and I also use it in the wave competitions.
FreeWing Air V3 – Photo : Luca Piana
We’ve seen you recently with the new FreeWing Air-Team, due out next year. Can you give us your first feedback on this wing ?
I can’t wait for this wing to come out, it is due out early 2024, but I have been riding it, helping in the testing and development which has been loads of fun. Clinton Filen developed the new canopy material along with the material supplier, it’s called Ultra X canopy and it’s just next level with its strength and durability. The leading edge and strut are still made with the Hookipa, an ultra woven PE material which is so strong and lightweight, that we can inflate up to 14psi and this allows for a smaller leading edge diameter but keeping all the stiffness needed to keep the wings shape. On big jumps and in high winds, you have you whole body weight swinging around under the wing and you can really feel that it holds its shape, keeping the power consistent in all moves.
What are your gear tips for freestyle?
What I love about freestyle is that there is so much variation in how the pro riders setup and do tricks, but my current style is using mid-aspect smaller foils that are fast but have aggressive pop. I am only 65kg, so I have been riding smaller foils compared to some of the bigger competitors, and this gives lots of speed, great to get the height for flips or flat rotations. And now combos are important, you need really crazy pop to bounce straight back on the landing, so that is why the mid-aspect is important.
FreeWing N-Team – Photo : @samuucardenas
With the wing, I mainly use between 3m up to 4.5m for light conditions but after this, I will use a bigger foil and board because once the wing gets too big, particularly a wide span wing, then it is harder to do flips and rotations. For me, I think sometimes it is easier to learn new advanced tricks in high wind with really small wings, but I am use to strong winds so maybe not for everybody.
With boards, a general rule is your weight minus 10 gives you a good volume for your freestyle board, but only when in 15kts and up. For combos, I think more surface area more than just volume helps the board bounce back up. I like a board with a square nose like the AK Compact because the nose does not get stuck when rotating.
The level of freestyle has been exploding lately. As soon as one rider lays down a new trick, the next day others follow… How do you train for freestyle?
Yeah, this year has been crazy, each event there are multiple new tricks and different style of riders bring new types of tricks. Its much more competitive but so much fun to be a part of. Because riders come from different backgrounds, everyone has a different perspective. I train in Tarifa and the general level is just getting better each month but being on Tour and regularly competing and riding with the best wingers in the world is also key.
FreeWing N-Team – Photo : @samuucardenas
For sure we are all trying to take idea from kiting, windsurfing and wakeboarding, and then you just go out and try to see what is possible.
I look at instagram to see what is coming out between events and try to think of new tricks to try that no-one is doing. Sometimes it takes some imagination and trying tricks which you think at the start would be impossible. It also important to see how the judges on the GWA Tour are scoring tricks as this changes over the year if more people are landing certain tricks and also on the conditions of each spot. The tour is so big now and we compete from 10 kts in lakes to 40 kts with waves.
FreeWing Air V3 – Photo : @lukas_k_stiller
Can you give us a quick explanation of how a GWA Surf-Freestyle heat is scored? What’s your strategy for getting the most points?
Most of the time you have 7 attempts and your best 3 tricks count.
The judges have a list of tricks grouped into families before the competitions and you know which tricks are grouped together to train for. From the semi finales, they change it to 4 best tricks from 8 attempts and each trick has a top score of 10. The judges combine a range of things, like height, style, flow, clean landings, riding out on foil, flow if wave riding and overall execution and then an average score of the panel of 5 judges gives you a score out of 10 for each trick. My strategy can change depending on who I am competing against, so I can use my safer tricks in the earlier rounds and be more aggressive in the later rounds when you need big scores to progress. I always train to have the tricks to win an event, and sometimes that doesn’t work out, but for me you have to be aggressive and confident if you want to beat the best riders. I try to have a plan for each heat, but things can change, the conditions can get difficult, the other rider can be having a great heat and then I change my plan to what I am seeing. I have won and lost so many heats by really small margins, it is so tight and the pressure is high, but I really love it. Sucks losing, but winning is such a buzz.
FreeWing Air V3
You’re currently 6th in the GWA Surf-Freestyle, how’s your 2023 season going? What are your expectations for the final leg in Brazil?
Yeah, 6th at the moment which is good but my goal was to be on the podium for this year so now I have to start thinking and training for 2024. I can’t make Brazil which I am bummed about, but I have been on both the wave and freestyle tour this year and have been travelling lots, so this time I have to miss Brazil for some school exams. Brazil is one of the few spots that give the goofy riders a ramp and with the mixed wave freestyle format, will be really competitive and exciting to watch.
FreeWing Air-Team – Photo : @lukas_k_stiller
And for next year, are you aiming to do even better on the tour?
That is my goal, to make the top 3 and win some World Cup events for sure. The level is getting really higher each year so it won’t be easy, but the intense competition makes doing well so satisfying. I am also wanting to push on the wave tour and compete against those guys at some of the best spots in the world.
Leucate – Photo : @lukas_k_stiller
Thanks a lot Xavi for your answers, we wish you a great preparation and we’ll keep following you next year!
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