World Beach Ultimate Championships 2023: Tournament Recap

Recapping the top-line stories from an exciting WBUC, plus stat leaders in every division!

Team France rise over the pack in the WBUC 2023 mixed final. Photo: Rodney Chen – UltiPhotos.com

Ultiworld’s coverage of the WFDF 2023 World Beach Championships is presented by Spin Ultimate; all opinions are those of the author(s). Find out how Spin can get you, and your team, looking your best this season.

It’s been a long time since the last iteration of the World Beach Ultimate Championships, but we can now say confidently it was worth the wait. It was a smaller field than the past, but those that did attend delivered great games, big plays, and even a few stunning upsets.

US Dominance Disrupted as The States Fail to Sweep

Team France celebrate after upsetting Team USA in the mixed semifinal of the 2023 WBUC. Photo: William “Brody” Brotman – UltiPhotos.com

Honestly, if you asked me to take Team USA or the field last week in every division, I would have picked Team USA. Their rosters just had so much depth, it seemed they’d be an infallible force against any other squad. But while four of five USA teams got it done, Team USA Mixed fell short in a shocking and exciting semifinal match against Team France, who had just run over Team Canada Mixed in an easy 11-6 quarterfinal victory . It was the only loss for any Team USA all week (USA went 71-1), but it was a crucial one as it meant they had to settle for bronze instead of gold.

Let’s look back at that semifinal, if not just to marvel at what a clean game of ultimate it was. France won 13-11 and there were three total turns in the game. Both teams capitalized on 100% of their break opportunities, so one extra chance for France made all the difference. On the French side, Elliot Bonnet tallied a whopping six assists and three goals to secure the win, and for the USA it was Kaela Helton doing everything she could, racking up four assists and three goals. Both offenses were clinical against high intensity defenses and the margin of error was inches. In a fitting ending, representative of the tight match we were all were lucky to witness, the final goal was an exciting one where the disc popped over the intended French receivers hand and Ulysse Rouillard had to make a layout grab in the end zone to finish the game.

France Mixed Game Winner over USA

On the other side of the bracket, Team Spain edged out Team Germany in a tight 11-9 match. It was a game of momentum shifts and runs but Spain, who showed their prowess on the beach in all divisions all week, earned the bid to the final.

France took the gold medal by a count of 11-9 from a Spain squad that had to feel a boost of hope, especially after going up 3-0 in the game’s opening points. The pristine French offense that characterized their upset over the Americans abandoned them, with a trio of turnovers before they even found the end zone. But France battled back into it, taking advantage of rushed decisions and execution errors from the Spanish side, and getting some timely deep cuts from Nasser Mbae Vogel, who scored both of his goals in the first half to go with two second half assists. Spain let go of a 6-4 lead, giving up three straight to go into half trailing 7-6. France opened the second half with a hold and a break, getting the latter after a second-throw turnover set up a short field and France’s Salomé Raulet lifted a backhand over the mark to open the field for a Juliette Bertrand goal to give France a 9-6 advantage. The match was closed on an impressive French hold, working from nearly their own backline, where they eventually found Lison Bornot deep, who dropped it off to Sascha Poitte-Sokolsky. Spain’s Óscar González Betancort (3G, 1A) and his incredible motor, as well as Aina Pérez’s (1G, 1A) smart offensive play shone well for them in the silver medal performance.

Spain Shows Up

Team Spain’s Juan Fernandez rips a flick against Team USA’s Jon Nethercutt’s bidding mark during the 2023 WBUC open final. Photo: Rodney Chen – UltiPhotos.com

Prior to this event, Spain had never won a medal on the world stage. Looking at the rosters ahead of the tournament, it seemed like the Spanish had put together impressive outfits, but turns out that was only the tip of the iceberg. In an incredible week of games, Spain snagged a medal in all three senior divisions – silvers in mixed and open, and a bronze in women’s.

It was clear from the get-go Spain had come prepared. All three Spanish teams had clear chemistry on offense and relentless grind on defense. It’s almost like those players have access to some of the nicest beaches in Europe for practice? Whatever their strategy coming into the week, they executed it flawlessly and will get to take home some hardware as a result.

Team Spain Open was led by a pair of Alvaro’s – Iturmendi and Monterde – who combined for an impressive 79 scores. They were accompanied by a deep list of supporting teammates in Francisco Romano (31 scores), Diego Lorenzo (21 scores), Juan Fernandez (20 scores), and Miguel Jimenez (21 scores). Every player on the team was on the board and demonstrated the ability to persevere through tough games in the sand.

Team Spain’s Cristina Navasa winds up a backhand at the 2023 WBUC. Photo: William “Brody” Brotman – UltiPhotos.com

Team Spain Women proved to be equally adept on the beach. Cristina Navasa was sensational, tallying up 28 assists and 10 goals, putting her in third for stats in the women’s division. They only amassed losses to North American teams, Canada and the USA, in their run for the podium. Again, every player contributed through the tournament and the Spanish women more than proved they can run – on the beach at least – with some of the best.

Team Spain Mixed had a unique situation where they never had to matchup against the USA at all, thanks to France’s feat of knocking them out in the semi. Spain Mixed went 8-1 over the tournament, generally dismantling their opponents early in each match and taking the only loss in the final to that infamous French squad. While Spain did their best to play to their strengths and stifle France’s chemistry, they simply could not slow down Elliot Bonnet and teammates enough. Spain Mixed had a great distribution of contributions with Óscar González Betancort and his high velocity play leading the pack with 14 assists and 14 goals.

Beaudry and Dos Santos Sensational Through the Week

Annouchka Beaudy lays out for the Team Canada score in the women’s final of the 2023 WBUC. Photo: Rodney Chen – UltiPhotos.com

The women’s division was brimming with talent. but no pairing were more impressive than Team Canada’s Annouchka Beaudry and Brittney Dos Santos. They combined for a stunning 86 stats – 28 assists and 19 goals for Beaudry, and 23 assists and 16 goals for Dos Santos. These two haven’t played together in a few years, but it was like they hadn’t missed a day. No doubt every team they faced game planned for the duo, but not a single team could stop them. When the chips were down in the final against Team USA – a team truly overflowing with capable defenders – they still were the best in the game.

The dynamic duo didn’t do it alone though – Team Canada earned their silver medal on the backs of many talented Canadian women. A notable breakout star was Jennie Korus – a resident of Canada’s east coast – who few knew before the tournament. Korus showed her skills on both sides of the disc, displaying picture perfect throws and formidable layout blocks, sometimes in the same point. Canada’s biggest weakness proved to be their depth- in the finals it was apparent that they wanted to run everything through the same few players, and while those players performed admirably, it was Team USA’s ability to share the load that ultimately got them the W.

Team Ukraine in Attendance

While many teams and players work through adversity to attend world ultimate events, it’s hard to imagine an outfit that had to persevere through more to attend than Team Ukraine. Ukraine sent one team in the mixed division, and overall they seemed to have a great week on the beach. While they were outclassed by the top contenders in the division, they finished strong with 5 wins in a row to place 9th. Dmytro Pcholkin led the team with a well-rounded 16 assists and 16 goals. Against Team USA they put up more points than many teams, going point for point in the latter half of the game. Regardless of the results, it was impressive that Ukraine could pull together a team given the circumstances, and it was a joy for everyone to see their players doing what they love on the beach all week.

Final Standings and Stat Leaders

Mixed Division

  1. France
  2. Spain
  3. USA
  4. Germany
  5. Canada
  6. Colombia
  7. Mexico
  8. Great Britain
  9. Ukraine
  10. Japan
  11. Singapore
  12. Milo Dino (SGN)
  13. Venezuela
  14. TC Pandas (CHN)
NameTeamGoalsAssistsTotal
Elliot BonnetFrance221840
Dmytro PcholkinUkraine161632
Sacha Poitte-SokolshyFrance151631
Simon HigginsUSA111829
Óscar González BetancortSpain141428
Víctor Bautista GonzálezMexico32528

Open Division

  1. USA
  2. Spain
  3. Great Britain
  4. Canada
  5. Philippines
  6. France
  7. Singapore
  8. Germany
  9. Japan
  10. Ireland
NameTeamGoalsAssistsTotal
Antonio FranciscoPhilippines213556
Connor McHaleGreat Britain143650
JJ EdwardsCanada32941
Jannis GaugerGermany32941
Christian BoxleyUSA261541

Women’s Division

  1. USA
  2. Canada
  3. Spain
  4. Philippines
  5. Japan
  6. Singapore
  7. Great Britain
NameTeamGoalsAssistsTotal
Annouchka BeaudryCanada192847
Brittney Dos SantosCanada162339
Cristina NavasaSpain102838
Eileen PiqueroPhilippines52833
Chiharu KobashiJapan26531

Masters Mixed Division

  1. USA
  2. Canada
  3. Germany
  4. Japan
  5. Philippines
  6. Colombia
  7. Poland
NameTeamGoalsAssistsTotal
Reina IshizuJapan282755
David Libo-onPhilippines142438
Ekaterina BadiaginaPoland141832
Satoru UmezawaJapan121931
Felix GlödeGermany141125
TJ ReedsCanada61925
Ryo MatsumotoJapan22325

Grand Masters Open Division

  1. USA
  2. Philippines
  3. Canada
  4. France
  5. Japan
  6. Singapore
  7. Venezuela
NameTeamGoalsAssistsTotal
Michelle Delos SantosPhilippines301545
Junthir FloresPhilippines191332
Jobert BuenaventuraPhilippines171431
Casey DegnanUSA19928
Hachijo TokanoJapan62127
  1. Kelsey Hayden
    Kelsey Hayden

    Kelsey Hayden is an Ultiworld reporter, primarily covering the Club Women's Division. She is originally from Goulds, Newfoundland, and currently resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She plays on a women's club team, Salty and a women's masters club team, StellO.

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