Saturday, November 24, 2007

24 Hour Canoe Paddling Endurance Race

Believe it or not there are people out there who's idea of a good weekend is to spend twenty four hours paddling their canoe around a couple of bouys ! Admittedly the winner gets a couple of thousand euros, but I get the feeling that this race is about more than the money. It's more about 'Who's the Hombre' who can paddle his canoe through the wee small hours and stay sane.

Nikki photographed the start (I was on the water windsurfing, and let me tell you it was Windy and Wavey) and then we both watched them in the late afternoon, and by then they had done less than a Quarter of the race !

Here's our mate Drew and his paddling partner just before the start. In his day job Drew is a super hero in the quagmire of Tenerifean building logistics, but it's his alter-ego as "El Toro", an all round water-man that we see here: expert surfer, champion outrigger canoeist, and a kind of Tenerifean version of Laird Hamilton (the legendary big wave surfer and all round 'waterman' from Hawai). He's also doing up our new house, so I'm hoping that he won't be too knackered from the race :-)

Other contestants get a tow out, but Drew just lifts the whole outrigger and strides into the water ....

and they paddle off for the first minute of the 1,440 that they'll be out there ...

So it's a bit like the Le Mans endurance sports car race. Teams of two swap places through the night, and the team with the most laps at the end of the 24 hours is the winner.

Drew says he started out "paddling like hell to break the opposition" and then just kept paddling like hell ! Apparently the first few hours were the hardest, but eventually the body gets used to it and it becomes all about rhythm, counting strokes and breathing. The pain just gets him angry and motivates him, and the night was actually the best part of the race because the wind died, in the darkness there's no sense of distance and he felt like he was flying.

The Morning After

Nikki actually got up at the crack of dawn (remarkable but true !) to take these evocative shots of the exhausted competitors ...

The Finish

The Winners

Drew and his partner paddled over 300 kilometers and won it by a big margin, which wasn't a surprise - on a good day nobody out paddles El Toro !

Apparently his best moment was nipping into the Chinese in the square for a bite to eat while his partner was paddling (aha, so hardly roughing it then) and his worst moment ? ...
"realising there was no actual prize money" - just a trophy ... which he would, of course, have to defend next year, and so go through the whole thing again !

(nb there's more about El Toro in episode 3 of my Life On The Reef column for Boards magazine, reprinted on the blog here)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Windsurfing 21/11/07

We had an enjoyable flat water session here today - wind was from the W - offshore, turning El Medano into a starboard tack flat water venue.

The freestyle kids were in heaven, and I was in speed slalom mode (on a 5,2 and 102 FSW, maxed out, Nikki was on 4.2m so quite windy) ... burning everyone off and screaming into lay down gybes and 360's kind of a day.

Fun for a while, but I'll be relieved when the wind goes back to normal and the waves return.


'Super Mario'

Graham (OTC)

Mario again

Windsurfing 21/11/07 (cont ...)

Ian (Boards Test Team)


me again

Adam (OTC)

Friday, November 9, 2007


Masca is one of Tenerife's most beautiful traditional mountain villages. Set in a hugely impressive barranca (gorge, ravine) that plunges down to the sea, the views are simply stunning. You reach it by taking a notoriously hairy single track mountain road that has only fairly recently been tarmaced, and the village used to be splendidly remote. Now that the road has been improved they get a lot more visitors there, and tourism has taken over from agriculture as their main sourse of revenue.

The first time we visited Masca we had lunch in a restaurant perched on the terraced mountain side, with quite simply the most awesome view.

That restaurant, and five other properties, was tragically destroyed in the forest fires that raged on Tenerife this summer.

We decided to revisit the village to see the damage for ourselves, and to lend our support by at least spending some more euros there.

The first thing you notice is the charred, blacked palm trees ...

But the great thing is how everyone has rallied round to help re-build the village.

Here there are teams of volunteers from all over Europe working for free to restore the place, and that says a lot about the way people feel about this marvelous traditional Canarian village.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Boards magazine test team at work in El Med

Ian and Emile of the Boards magazine test team trying out the latest kit on a marginal wind day, with El Medano town in the background ...

by the way, the houses in the background of the shot above are where we live.