Sailors from 23 countries will be taking part in the 16th Semana Olímpica Canaria de Vela (Canary Islands Olympic Sailing Week), which was launched on Tuesday at Real Club Náutico de Gran Canaria. The skills level and the number of sailors registered for this iconic race in the Spanish series were deemed “a success” by the Club’s sports manager, Francis Bautista, who highlighted the attendance of sailors who’ve already qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and countries such as Russia, whose entire teams will be taking part.
The Russian, Lithuanian, Spanish and Portuguese Olympic teams and the Norwegian, Dutch and Turkish youth teams have brought all their members to the event in Gran Canaria.
The Semana Olímpica Canaria de Vela is the first event on the Spanish calendar that will count towards entry into the Spanish Pre-Olympic sailing team. Several of the Club’s sailors, such as Onán Barreiros and Juan Curbelo in the 470 class, Joaquín Blanco in Laser Standard, and Martina Reino in Laser Radial, will be working for their places over the long weekend of the race.
Lucas Bravo de Laguna, Head of Sports with the Gran Canaria Cabildo, and Mimi González, City Councillor for Ciudad de Mar (Sea City), were at the launch to represent the two local bodies sponsoring the race, described as the “the Club’s most important event of the year” by Club President Óscar Bergasa, who led the press conference.
The Olympic Sailing Week is the longest-running event of the four races in the Gran Canaria Sail in Winter programme. After this race, which will be held from 4 to 8 December, the Gran Canaria club will be holding the Optimist Trofeo AECIO (26-29 December), Trofeo Isla de Gran Canaria (9-11 January) and the Regata de Carnaval (13-15 February).
One of the main innovations this year is the decision by European Region of International Laser Class Association (EurILCA) to start the Europa Cup series with the Regata de Carnaval Ciudad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. This has boosted the interest of Europe’s top teams in taking part in the final race of the Gran Canaria Sail in Winter programme.
The RCNGC President announced that, for the first time, the Club is including Paralympic sailing in its winter races. The Club already has its team, comprising sailors Javier Ugarte and José Guerra, and several other European crews have confirmed they’ll be competing in Gran Canaria this winter.
City Councillor Mimi González, who sailed at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, highlighted the Council’s support for the Gran Canaria Sail in Winter programme and its importance for the city, which is promoted as a winter sailing base.
González said that the 2013 Olympic Sailing Week, in which 374 sailors took part, had brought in half a million (489,780.72) euros to the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. For the 2013 Gran Canaria Sail in Winter programme, 689 sailors from around 20 countries came to Gran Canaria and the city earned 900,000 (892,747.62) euros, in figures announced by the councillor.
“At the Gran Canaria Cabildo we’re delighted to support the Semana Olímpica Canaria de Vela, which has become a well established event”, said Lucas Bravo, who added that “the idea of the Gran Canaria Sail in Winter programme is fantastic for promoting the island abroad”.
In addition to defining Real Club Náutico as a symbol of Gran Canaria, Bravo reiterated the support of the Cabildo and confirmed the ongoing collaboration of the public institution.
Sailors from 23 countries have registered.
Races will be run in two race areas:
The Olympic Week races will be held from 5 to 8 December, with three races a day starting at 11.00 hours.
(Translated from Spanish by Jane McGrath)
Tamas Eszes, coach of the Hungarian sailing team, talks about Gran Canaria. Eszes and 16-year-old sailor Maria Erdi are already training at Real Club Náutico de Gran Canaria. The Hungarians were the first team to arrive this season.
Why did you choose Gran Canaria for training?
Last year we had an invitation from the club for the Olympic Sailing Week, but we were training in Valencia for the winter and decided to come to the island for just one week. It was the first time we’d visited this club and the area and we had a great time.
Your team is the first to arrive. Why are you here so soon?
After Santander, there are really no more big races in Europe, just a few Europa Cups, but we decided not to do them. We wanted to start training for the next season and we were looking for a place like this, where everything we need is in one place: a gym, swimming pool, great weather, sailing area, good wind. In this one location we aren’t wasting time every day going from one place to another. We do all our training sessions at the Club and that’s just perfect.
How long are are you staying?
My sailor is quite young. She studies at a private school, which means she doesn’t need to attend class every day. She only needs to do the exams and she sat four subjects in September. We decided to stay in Gran Canaria for two months, until the end of the Olympic Sailing Week, and then she’s going to take a month off to sit the exams for the six remaining subjects. Then she’ll come back to Gran Canaria in January and continue training.
Will you be taking part in the Gran Canaria Sail in Winter series?
Of course; we’re going to do all the races in Gran Canaria. We hope the Club will organise the Laser Europa Cup in February. That could be the first Europa Cup of the year and I think a lot of sailors and national teams are planning to come to Gran Canaria.