Most people know Lanzarote as a holiday destination but five teams have chosen the island as a training base in the last two editions of the Volvo Ocean Race alone, so there must be more to the island than the sunshine and volcanos of the tourist guides.
In September 2007, a Volvo Open 70 in Ericsson colours landed at the Puerto Calero marina on the south east coast of Lanzarote. It was the start of an ambitious, year-long training programme that would soon see a second Ericsson boat added to the party.
“We looked everywhere from Hawaii to California and Lanzarote was the best place,” said Magnus Olsson, who would go on to skipper Ericsson 3.
He was vindicated 21 months later when Ericsson 4 arrived in Stockholm as a commanding winner of the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race, with Ericsson 3 coming in fourth.
In November 2010, the same Ericsson 4 boat arrived once again at Puerto Calero. This time it was decked out in the colours of Groupama, to act as a training boat for Franck Cammas’ team during the European winter.
“We spent two months in Lanzarote, where we did some excellent training and team development,” Cammas said before the team left for their Lorient base. “It’s better than Lorient in winter and the trade winds here are constant. It’s also a good place for physical training and to do other sports, such as cycling, kitesurfing and windsurfing.”
In May this year, Team Telefónica arrived at their Marina Rubicón base to the south of the island for three months of preparation.
“We often had winds of 15 to 20 knots and we never had to cancel a day’s sailing because of too much or too little wind,” said skipper Iker Martínez.
PUMA Ocean Racing became the latest Volvo Ocean Race team to join the Canaries Club when they arrived at Puerto Calero in July.
“Lanzarote was selected for a few reasons,” said skipper Ken Read. “First of all, the guys on our team who sailed with Ericsson 4 last time trained here and had a fantastic experience – from the community to the sailing. And, it is the sailing conditions that we need now in this next phase. This amount of breeze will allow us to test things that we weren’t able to check in Newport. That’s the beauty of training in two different places: two completely different areas, different weather patterns, different water temperatures. There are all kinds of variables that are critical to preparation.”
via Volvo Ocean Race