Adele Young: Winter sailing in Gran Canaria

As reported in a previous post, one of our junior Optimist sailors, Adele Young spent some time sailing in Gran Canaria over Christmas. She has set us the following report:

We set off for London Gatwick on the morning of the 19th of December. After a long drive to Gatwick Alex, Dad and I arrived, walking into the airport with our rather large and heavy sail tube. Alex and I checked in then made our way, with dad, to security. At this point we left my dad and there the journey began. We made our way through the airport very well and were on time!

We landed in Gran Canaria at around 4pm. We had no hassle getting out of the airport where we met 2 out of 4 of the Spanish family we were staying with. Maria (the mum) and Javi, pronounced Havi (Edu, Alex’s exchange partners brother.) They took the sail tube and we made our way to our first stop which was the sailing club. We arrived at the sailing club around 15 minutes later and were greeted by Edu, some of his sailing team and his coach. We dropped the sail tube off and went for a tour of the club.

Their club, Real Club Nautico De Gran Canaria, is huge. Alex and never thought we would work our way around it. As well as a huge boat park and marina they had: a gym, training rooms, boat repair garage, a swimming pool, a room for prize giving, large restaurant, café, multi sports court, squash court, a recreational room where there was table tennis tables, a football table and PlayStation’s and a Xbox Kinect! The club did have more rooms but they were mainly for staff. It does make the club more social because there are so many things to do after sailing. That day we also met Carlos (one of Maria’s brothers) he was very easy to talk to and very good at English (like they all were!) That night we met Edu’s father who is also called Eduardo.

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The next day, Saturday, we went to the sailing club at around 10am. We got our charter boats from the club. They were two Winners that had only been used around 3 or 4 times! We sorted out our boats so they were ready to sail, we rigged. Then at about 11am we went out on the water to do some training! The training in Gran Canaria is really nice and relaxed because they go out on the water at around 11am then do about 3 hours and then come in at 2pm! We trained for four days with the clubs optimists. Three of the days we did small races, focusing on starts and the fourth day we joined with another group and did a small regatta (although we only did 2 races). That day was windy unlike the other days which were light. The waves were huge, if you were at the bottom of one you wouldn’t be able to see a boat who was on the bottom of the next wave, it was so much fun sailing on those waves!

During those few days we met a lot more of Maria’s family. We met their Maria’s parents who were really kind. We had met the rest of Carlos’ family which consisted of a wife and three sons. Whilst we were there in the briefings and debrief a boy called Matias translated everything for us, he was amazing at English it was as if it was his own language. We met lots of really nice people which we had really good and interesting convocations with and it was really nice as it got to help them improve their English.

Christmas Eve came, we rested for most of the day then at about 8pm the family, including Carlos and his children and wife went to church. The service was short but Alex and I had no idea what was going on because it was all in Spanish! After the service we went back to Carlos’ house for a meal, where the grandparents also turned up. At around 12:30am we returned back to Maria’s apartment and Santa had arrived! Javi was really excited and they opened the presents straight away. To our surprise Maria had got Alex and I a present. It was a fleece with GBR and our sail numbers on. Over the Christmas period we went out with lots of parts of Maria’s family.

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On the first day of the competition we launched around 11am, which is really relaxed compared to British times! We got three fair races in; in the first race I came 24th which at the time felt really bad because I thought it was a 40th. In the second race I came 23rd this was because I went up the wrong side of the first beat so therefore had to gain places during the rest of the race. In the 3rd race I got myself a black flag which was really not going to help my result, especially as we only had one discard.

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The following day we got to the club at the same time but today it was postponed for about an hour due to no wind. At about half twelve we launched. We waited for ages for the race committee to get a race in but it was so difficult because it was really patchy and shifty. We started a race in which there was a huge shift, this race got abandoned. Finally after waiting for hours they decided to abandon it for the day.

On the third and final day, they decided to make it earlier so we launched earlier. When we eventually got to the racing area there was very little wind. After waiting for the wind to fill in we raced. In the first race it was very light and the shifts were very unpredictable. When I rounded the windward mark I was in around 50th position, but I managed to work my way up to 26th which I was happy with because I gained a lot of places! The 2nd race of the day was my best race of the whole regatta as I managed to get and 18th. In the final race of the regatta I came 20th which I didn’t think was too bad but it would have been good to have another race in the teens or even the top ten. Overall at the end of the regatta I had ended up 39th out of 157 competitors which is respectable!

What I liked about the event is that after every day, when you had come in and packed away your boat, they would give you a warm lunch of something like pasta or rice with chicken, along with a yoghurt, a drink and chocolate bars made in Gran Canaria! Finally the prize giving was very different to Britain’s; it was very formal with tables where you had your food and after you had eaten they would do the prize giving. Once again we didn’t understand what they were saying during the prize giving but congratulated those who won prizes!

We spent our final day visiting places over the island. Firstly we went to the most south point of the island to a beach and went for a quick swim. We then drove to another beach which was a lot windier then the past one. This is where we had our lunch. After finishing there we went to a shopping centre where we looked around for about an hour. We went back to the apartment packed our bags and went to sleep a little earlier that night.

Then came the day where we were going home. We said goodbye to Edu and Javi just before we left the apartment. Our next destination was the Yacht club to pick up our sail tube. Then we were on our way to the airport. We passed through all the security and we were on the plane home. We passed beautiful views over Portugal and Spain and finally France before we passed through the clouds into a dark, cold England! We picked up our luggage (which took a lot longer than in Gran Canaria) and made our way to find Alex’s parents to bring us back home!

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This trip was a really good experience for me, even though I did miss my family over Christmas, although I don’t regret going! I have learnt a lot and I hope that one day I can go back to Gran Canaria to sail and see Edu’s family once again!


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