“We haven’t missed a day’s sailing. Of all the places I’ve been for winter training, this is certainly the most consistent”
– Rory Fitzpatrick, Head Coach, Irish Sailing
The Irish Sailing Team are one of many professional sailing teams who have chosen the Canary Islands as their training base for the 2020 Tokyo 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, a number of Irish sailors have come to Lanzarote to take advantage of the perfect training conditions prior to the upcoming Olympic Games, including the Irish single-handed women, Annalise Murphy, Aoife Hopkins and Eve McMahon, and the Irish Olympic double-handed team in the 49er class, Rob Dixon, Sean Waddilove, Ryan Seaton and Seafra Guilfoyle.
Rory Fitzpatrick, Head Coach, Irish Sailing, brought the Irish sailing team to Lanzarote to take advantage of the landscape and climate, and train in conditions similar to the upcoming Olympics in Tokyo. “There’s very good wind here, there are nice big waves and sunshine so, we have all the ingredients we need to get prepared for the Olympic games”.
The Canary Islands offer the perfect conditions, not just to practice their sailing skills, but also for the athletes to focus on their physical activity. Fitzpatrick explains “We’re sailing probably five days a week and in the morning the guys will be doing their physical exercise. They’d either be on the bike or in the gym. Then the afternoons are spent getting hours on the water, training their technique or doing some race training with some other teams as well. We haven’t missed a day’s sailing while we’re here. So, in sailing terms, that’s very unusual. Of all the places I’ve been for winter training, this is certainly the most consistent I’ve been to”.
The athletes have also been kept busy on their days off, Fitzpatrick continues, “With the team in their off time, some of them have been doing wing foiling or surfing or cycling around the islands or just a sightseeing also because there’s quite a lot of things to do here”.
Eve McMahon of Howth Yacht Club is currently training with the Irish Sailing Team in Marina Rubicon, Lanzarote. While McMahon isn’t yet on the senior team, she has taken this opportunity to train alongside them to improve and develop her skills.
The Olympic aspirant, who was awarded the 2020 Irish Sailing Youth Sailor of the Year at the recent Irish Sailing Awards, has enjoyed training in the Canary Islands, pointing out that the conditions are very similar to those expected in Tokyo for the Olympics. She said, “Training here in the Canaries is great, there’s wind every single day and great conditions out on the water. It’s quite similar to the conditions that we get in Tokyo, so I think that’s why most of the sailors are out here. We get the experience out and just having all the different wave conditions and you can go to different parts of the racecourses to get different conditions. So, it’s a really, really great training spot for us.”
Eve McMahon, Irish Youth Sailor, also enjoys the variation in training activities in Lanzarote, “I do a lot of cycling for our actual training and there’s some great, great roads out here. We’ve been doing hundreds of kilometres training and there’s really nice lava fields as well. We’ve been exploring them and hiking up some mountains too on our rest days”.
Irish Sailing Olympian, Annalise Murphy, is also using the Canary Islands as a training base to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Annalise, an Olympic Silver Medallist, finds the archipelago the perfect destination for winter training. “We come to Lanzarote because it’s the perfect place to train during winter. In Ireland it’s 0 degrees at the moment. It’s really nice and warm and sunny [in Lanzarote], so the conditions are very similar to the Tokyo Olympic conditions” says Annalise, “Every day is great, it’s a lot of the time sunny and windy but you also get different conditions; some light winds and some different wind directions so, it’s perfect for training”.
The Irish Sailing 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.
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 sailors, many other elite athletes choose the Canaries as their training base, including surfers, 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 Dublin 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.
For more information on the Canary Islands please visit www.hellocanaryislands.com