Windfoiling Windsurf Travel in Canary Islands (Lanzarote) – the pro’s choice

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Windfoiling Windsurf Travel in Canary Islands (Lanzarote) – the pro’s choice


Britain’s elite windsurfers choose the Canary Islands as a training base for the iQFoil class, Olympic Sailing’s newest discipline. The British windfoiling team are in Lanzarote for a 2024 Olympic Training Camp and are one of many professional sailing teams who have chosen the Canary Islands as their training base for the Olympics. The climate and natural landscape of the Canary Islands, along with its specialised infrastructure for high-level training, make the archipelago a paradise for training and active sports for professional athletes. For this reason, 11 members of the British Sailing Windsurfing Team, including Imogen Sills and Emily Hall, have come to Lanzarote to take advantage of the perfect training conditions and train for the upcoming season and for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Sam Ross is the Lead Coach of iQFoil, British Sailing Team, and has found the Canary Islands a great place for the British iQFoil Class team to train and work on their skills, due to the archipelago’s climate and range of conditions. Ross explains, “the reason we chose Lanzarote is because we needed somewhere that was going to have enough wind all the time. With foiling, we needed to be above five, six knots on a pretty regular basis, and actually we’d been here for three months now and we’ve not lost a day of sailing. The consistency of wind has been fantastic.”

The British Windfoiling Team are training in Marina Rubicón, ideally located in a sheltered bay on the south coast of Lanzarote, next to the protected peaks of Los Ajaches and a short sail from Papagayo’s superb beaches.

Sam Ross has found the varied landscape and weather of Lanzarote perfect for the development of the team’s skills and fitness. He explains “Places like Marseille, where are we are ging to compete in the future can be pretty lumpy and bumpy, and the beauty of Lanzarote is you get all conditions depending on what you need and what you want to do. So, you go out round the corner and get massive swell and big seas. We can hide behind the Marina to get flat water and lighter wins. Or we can head off the other way to get something in between. It really gives us a massive variety of stuff. It’s also pretty warm, which makes a massive difference when you’re getting out on the water. And it’s, actually been probably even better than we hoped it was going to be”.

iQFoil is an innovative style of windsurfing will make its Olympic debut in Paris 2024. Emily Hall, GBR 714, iQFoil, British Sailing Team, is one of 11 members of the British Sailing Windsurfing Team training in Lanzarote. Hall explains “Compared to other Olympic classes, this one is a hydro-foil, so when we get moving fast enough in the water, we actually pick up out of the water, so we fly above nearly a metre out of the water on a hydro-foil, a similar design to airplane wings”. iQFoil is a completely different style of windsurfing than before and is completely silent on. Emily Hall continues, “It’s really innovative. We’ve got loads of different courses and we race in all kinds of different conditions and the main difference is the kit; we’ve got a hydrofoil in comparison to normal fin. For the girls its 8 metres and for the guys it’s 9 metres”.

Henry Bloodworth, GBR 10, British Sailing Team, iQFoil windsurfing class, was campaigning in the old Olympic wind surfing class before he began foiling on the hydrofoil kit.

Bloodworth explains Olympic sailing’s newest discipline, “It feels like you’re floating. It looks less stable, but when you’re traveling at speed the wings just create so much stability that it’s just like, being on a platform. It’s literally just pretty much clip-on and go. Essentially one man, and one woman will go to the Olympics in 2024. And that would be the first Olympic games where the IQFoil equipment’s been present. There’s only one of us will go, but at the moment we’re training all together as one team. And when it gets a bit closer to the time it will basically be a bit more of a fight for the top spot.”

Hall has found her time in Lanzarote very beneficial to her training due to the range in conditions that vary day-to-day. She explains “Training in Lanzarote is incredible it’s always really warm, we’ve had one day of rain so far and we’ve been here for over two months. Everyday we’re having wind, such a range of conditions. Huge waves some days and other days it’s flatter conditions”. 

Windsurfer Matt Barton, GBR 983, British Sailing Team, iQFoil windsurfing class, has found Lanzarote to be the perfect destination for winter training, enjoying his time both on and off the water, “Without a doubt we’ve had the best time here, it’s been warm, there’s always been wind, which has been obviously essential for us as a windsurfing class. It’s been really nice. In-terms of winter training it has been phenomenal. Days-off consist of surfing, we’ve just done so much surfing. We also have to do weight training, but really just climbing the volcanoes here has been one of my favourite things as well.” 

Imogen Sills, GBR 561, iQFoil, British Sailing Team, trains in Lanzarote alongside her twin sister and teammate, Saskia Sills, who is also a member of the iQFoil class, British Sailing Team. Imogen explains a typical training day for the British Sailing Team in Lanzarote, “We wake up about eight, have breakfast come down to the club. Then we’ll head onto the water for maybe two or three hours. Come in, have some food, have a rest and then potentially do a gym session. We also love the local bars and cafes, and we’ve perfected the best coffee here, so we know where to go.

Saskia has found Lanzarote to be a great place to train, “It feels like the whole world of sailing has come here this year…and it’s been really lovely to experience this island with our friends. I really hope that it becomes an Olympic sailing base training venue forever. I don’t want to go anywhere else.” 

Imogen, who had to retire from her last Olympic campaign due to an ankle injury, has since fallen in love with foiling, which has allowed her to get back on the water once again “The foiling windsurfing has just absolutely transformed the sport. It’s just the new dimension. I actually can’t go on normal wind surface anymore, it’s not that fun or that thrilling. Foiling actually has allowed me to get back on the water because I don’t have the impact on the water anymore, so it’s much more injury friendly and less impactful for your body. The feeling of flying above the water is just incredible. I really hope to qualify for the 2024 Olympics. It’s the dream”.

Imogen is thoroughly enjoying her time in the Canaries with the British Sailing Team, “Lanzarote is perfect. We actually don’t want to leave, we’re really enjoying going across the Island to places like El Golfo to surf or to Famara, Costa Teguise. It’s just paradise for water lovers; flat water conditions for winging or you’ve got big surfs in the Northwest and Famara or in Costa Teguise you have some reefs you can go sup boarding on, it’s just perfect.” 

Windsurfer Andy Brown, GBR 360, British Sailing Team, iQFoil windsurfing class, has found the Lanzarote climate perfect for his training needs, “We’ve got more winds than we need most of the time, which is a stark contrast to other places I’ve been where you know, you only get four days out of seven at best. Sometimes less than that on the water. So, you know, you can maximize the time on the water out here and, and it’s perfect. It’s sunny, windy. Can’t ask for more.” 

Sam Sills of the British Sailing Team, IQFoil windsurfing class, finds Lanzarote the best winter training destination in Europe. He explains, “We’ve come to Lanzarote simply because it’s got the best conditions in Europe. It’s kind of like the European Hawaii. Just constant winds, constant temperature, and we can do a lot of hours on the water. We’ve sailed in a lot of other places around the world. So Portugal or mainland Spain, but the Canary Islands is by far the best place to be in the winter”. 

The natural conditions of the Canary Islands make the archipelago a paradise for professional training and active sports, offering sunny days, trade winds, several hours of daylight, as well as the opportunity to continue training at high level accommodation and sports facilities around the islands. In addition to windsurfers and sailors, many other elite athletes choose the Canaries as their training base, including triathletes, swimmers, paragliders, beach volleyball players and cyclists from all over the world.

The connectivity of the Canaries, even now, allows athletes to reach the archipelago from the United Kingdom in approx. four hours. The islands have 1,500km of coastline washed by volcanic waters rich in nutrients and suitable for thalassotherapy, perfect for helping athletes with a quick recovery. 

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