Lanzarote’s volcanic landscapes and virgin beaches are the cradle of a rich nautical tradition
Throughout its history, this island in the Canary archipelago has forged a profound relationship with the sea, nurturing sports such as sailing and producing world-class champions. Below, we delve into this maritime heritage, looking into the history of lateen sailing, the island’s international competitions and home-grown elite sailors.
The culture and tradition of the discipline
From the traditions of lateen sailing to hosting top level international competitions, Lanzarote has established itself as an epicentre for sailing enthusiasts and elite sailors alike.
This form of sailing has been passed down through generations, becoming not only a sport, but also a living testimony to the local culture, since this iconic type of boat is especially identified with the island’s celebration of San Ginés. At this time, the local fishermen, after returning with their lanchas (the name given to the small boats of the time) would take part in the festivities.
Lateen sailing: a link between Lanzarote and La Graciosa
Nowadays, to mention lateen sailing on the Island of Volcanoes is to evoke the island of La Graciosa too; the two share a vibrant intertwining of history, expertise and a sense of community.
The small boats, which are distinguished by their unique sails and wooden construction, and whose length varies between 5 and 8.50 metres, are not merely sailing craft – they are authentic testimonies to the navigational skill and craftsmanship of the island’s shipwrights. Working exclusively in wood, these masters have perfected their skills over time to make boats that are true treasures of maritime carpentry.
At weekends, the waters around Lanzarote and La Graciosa are a backdrop to competitions. Particularly notable is the Insular League of 5-metre Lateen Sailing Dinghies, which has seen exponential growth in popularity on the island. Currently, there is a fleet of 20 boats in this modality, each crewed by 4 sailors. These teams, made up of experts and novices, compete in exciting regattas that provide a thrilling spectacle for both locals and visitors. There is also an 8.50 metre island competition and a J80 competition.
The Different Island as a meeting place for people who are passionate about the sport
Lanzarote not only stands out for its own rich tradition, but also for being chosen to host international sailing competitions. Once again, the island has hoisted the flag of international recognition, establishing itself as an undisputed world centre for Olympic sailing, after the inauguration for the third consecutive year of the iQFOiL Games Lanzarote and the Lanzarote International Regatta in Marina Rubicón.
In an event that was a prologue to the competition that will set the course for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, 36 national teams, with participants from five continents, unfurled their sails and displayed their skills in a contest of strategy and wind.
The “iQFOiL Games Lanzarote” event is more than a competition – it is also a celebration of nautical culture and the island’s rich maritime heritage. Beyond the regattas, the programme includes a series of parallel activities that immerse participants and visitors in the essence of the island.
Lanzarote is undoubtedly ordained to be the epicentre of world sailing. Although the curtain has barely been dropped on recent events, the island is already preparing for an even greater spectacle. Thanks to the unrivalled quality of its marine conditions and first-class facilities, during the 2024 season the coasts have been chosen to host three world championships and Olympic qualifiers for the 49er, 49er FX and iQFOiL categories, for both men and women.
The tide of events promises to further raise Lanzarote’s prestige on the international sailing scene. The island is also the starting point for international competitions such as the RORC Transatlantic Race and is a stopover point for several transatlantic races.
Lanzarote: training base for elite sailors
To talk about sailing in Lanzarote is, without a doubt, equivalent to talking about its talented sportsmen and women. The island has produced world champions in various sailing disciplines.
Among the most prominent names are Rayco Tabares and Alfredo González, who have not only made their mark in national competitions, but also internationally. Likewise, sailors such as Cristian Sánchez, Nete Armas, Carlos Hernández, Gonzalo Morales, Óliver Hernández and many others have taken the name of Lanzarote to the top of the podium on numerous occasions.
The future of sailing on the island looks bright as it is consolidated not only as a hotbed of talent, but also as the preferred venue for elite athletes looking to take on new and exciting challenges in their sailing craft.
Thus the legacy of the great local sailors, together with the constant support of the community, is guaranteeing a prosperous horizon for the sport on the island, allowing future generations to continue sailing towards success.