Lanzarote, island in the trades

Lanzarote lies at the northeast corner of the Canary archipelago and, because of its position on the route to the West Indies, and with the construction of an international marina, it looks set to become a premier destination for amateur sailors. Starting on 8 January, the Panerai Transat Classique 2019 will surely add to its growing reputation.

When the organizers of the Panerai Transat Classique chose Lanzarote for the starting line of the 2019 edition of the race, they had good reasons for doing so. Consider its geographic position: the island lies on the best possible route from Europe to the West Indies if you want to benefit from the trades, those usually steady but sometimes fickle prevailing winds that generate a long swell. During the previous edition of the race, which set out from Portugal, the competing vessels were instructed to cross a gate off the Canary Islands to prevent them from getting caught up in the depressions of the North Atlantic.

Coming from the cold of the European mid-winter, the weather on the island is very much a foretaste of spring with average temperatures of 21°C and little variation between the maximum and minimum. Regular winds mean that the island is an attractive location for modern sailing teams to set up their race training camps.

For the needs of the teams participating in the Panerai Transat Classique 2019, the organizers have negotiated a partnership with Marina Lanzarote, a brand new yachting facility at the heart of Arrecife. As Augustin de la Hoz, one of Lanzarote’s most famous authors, once said of the island’s charming capital with its particularly Spanish atmosphere: “born as a harbour, and then as a town”. In addition to the pleasures of the city, the crews preparing for the race will also benefit from the new infrastructure of the marina which includes an impressive travel hoist capable of lifting 800 tonnes and the experienced Maestro Tito Shipyard which, since the eighteenth century, has been providing high quality wooden boat-building and repair services.

Alongside in the harbour you will see some of the traditional nineteenth century fishing boats which, through the expert shipwrighting skills of Maestro Tito, have been transformed into elegant schooners. Fletcher Kennedy, a member of the SCA Team competing in the next Volvo Ocean Race, was impressed by the yard’s professional expertise when they relaid the teak deck of his Swan 37. For many years these

respected craftsmen of the seashore used timber from a species of tree that only grows in the archipelago: Canary Island pine. Felled when steeped in sap and resin, Pinus canariensis makes long-lasting timber that is water-resistant and does not rot. Endemic in the Canaries, this drought-hardy tree is today a protected species but visitors can still admire its pale timber in the doors and balconies of the island’s older houses.

The Calero Marinas Group, which operates three marinas including Marina Lanzarote, will also be placing its expertise at the disposal of the Panerai Transat Classique 2019. The yachts will be able to call on its team of riggers, sailmakers, engineers... and enjoy special rates for the duration of their stay on the island (see below). Yet another good reason to fetch Lanzarote in good time to prepare for the race. Especially as the organizers are planning a surprise for New Year’s Eve. No doubt about it, everything is being done to ensure the teams competing in the Panerai Transat Classique 2019 will be able to prepare for the start on 8 January in optimal conditions.