The Lanzarote Foil Challenge.
Around Lanzarote in 1 day on the foil!
After doing many tests runs the stages were finalised and the race was on. It was to be by invitation with the plan to have between 15 to 20 competitors.
BASILE JACQUIN and RYTIS JASIUNAS from the P7 BLACK TEAM were 2 of the Pro riders invited. Inscription was Friday night, 07/05/21. 16 riders signed in, 11 Pros and 5 locals. You can go to www.lanzarotefoilchallenge.com for details.
140 km in one day, well it would be over 180 km with the upwind and down wind.
The prevailing wind is NE, so the stages were set as:-
Stage 1, Playa Blanca – El Golfo. 20 Km.
Stage 2, El Golfo – La Santa. 21 Km.
Stage 3, La Santa – Graciosa. 20 Km.
Stage 4, Graciosa – Costa Teguise. 32 Km.
Stage 5, Costa Teguise – Playa Honda. 12 Km.
Stage 6, Playa Honda – Playa Blanca. 24 Km.
Stages 2 and 6 not counting for the overall results.
Race day and the forecast was correct, NNW at around 12-15 knots. This was going to change the event quite a lot. The name of the event was correct……… Challenge !
All riders had a tracking app on their phones with battery packs. It made watching and following the race fantastic. I was glued to the computer all day giving the instructors updates by radio as they were teaching, and answering the phone as people were asking, where are they now. Where is the next good place to be, to watch?
Stage 1. Playa Blanca to El Golfo: With the wind being NNW, there was an acceleration of the wind in this stage. Plus, some interesting wind bends off the land making the upwind very tactical.
TWH:- What equipment did you bring to the event, and at the end decided to use? Point-7 has 2 foil lines for the sails. The F1 SL and F1 FW. Explain your choice for the race.
BASILE:- I decided to bring 9.0 FW as the sail is very good in light wind but also stable in strong wind so I was 99% sure to use this sail. I also bring my 7.7 SL in case the wind got too strong. The board I had was my slalom foil FMX Hyperion 178. Initially I brought my Phantom foil with 110+ fuselage and 800-950 front wing. I arrived few days before the event and tested the combo with 9.0 and 800 front wing, I was super-fast and pointing good upwind. I was confident as my gear was fast and easy so for a mega long-distance, I guess It was the key ! The night just before the race my foil got destroyed into the bridge of the harbour due to the high tide (my stupid mistake), so I had to borrow a foil from the organizer. This foil was a slalom foil setup with small fuselage, and I couldn’t go upwind in the light breeze
RYTIS:- I brought a course racing foil board with a wide tail, to have enough power to go upwind. For the foil I took a medium power Boss foil – 112cm fuselage and 930cm2 front wing. For the sails I took my F1 SL 9.0 and 7.7 and ended up using the 9.0. The FW sails have more power and generate better angle downwind and upwind, while the SL sails are faster and slightly easier feeling. Nevertheless, I only have the FW in 10.0 size and for the open ocean race of 10 hours this sail is just too difficult to control, – it has amazing power, but over a long period of time in wavy conditions it would be too taxing to use. I think the 9.0 FW would have been ideal for the conditions we had.
The start was 9.15 am and they went over the line doing 20/22 knots. 12 people started the race, 10 pros and 2 locals. Rounding the corner at the light house to go upwind the speed dropped to 16/18 knots.
After the first few tacks it was all about how far out or in to go as the coast curved in and out.
TWH:- How did your strategy plan out?
BASILE:- As I was with a completely new foil that I never used before with not an Up/ Down wind set-up my strategy was to go for speed instead of trying to point as much as possible. At the beginning the wind was quite strong so I could go with this strategy, having better speed than everyone with a bit less angle but I was fighting with the top guys until the wind dropped… It dropped quite massively to super light wind and with the foil I had I couldn’t do nothing. I think in 5min I dropped from 3 to almost last
RYTIS:- Yes, when you are covering such a big distance in one go, you must expect the conditions to change a lot and be aware of it. So, the upwind started with full power in the sail and constant wind from the shore all the way to the outside. However, soon the waves on the inside were getting messier due the reflection from the cliffs and the wind was starting to get affected by the land too. So, my strategy was to stay further outside where the wind and waves were more constant. In the middle of the upwind that decision paid off as the guys on the inside went too far into one bay and got lighter wind with shifty direction while I was still blasting full power on the outside. That is where I made it into 3rd place. Closer to the finish line the wind was getting light, and some people caught lucky gusts on the inside that allowed them to get closer to me. Nevertheless, I defended my position with some match racing moves (tacking right on top of my competitors) and kept the 3rd place to the finish.
The leader came over the line in 1 hour and the last person 14 minutes later.
RYTIS:- Yes, it was extremely light. I was doing jibes while going upwind just so that I wouldn’t drop of the foil and to save energy and not use it while pumping to get onto the foil. Even though in some places it was so light that I stopped anyway. And then towards La Santa it got super shifty, and I got headed multiple times, which forced me to make many extra runs to make it up to the finish line. I would say it was dropping down to 4-6 knots where I was sailing.
Stage 3, La Santa to Graciosa. The race is back on. The ruling was up to a 30-minute break from when the first person goes over the finish line and then the next start would start. After 45m the race director decided he had to start. 6 pros had arrived, and 3 more locals joined the fleet. The wind was very light, but it was decided to give it a try. If the wind stayed NNW, it would be a simple leg. They had no idea what was to happen. 1 tack and they were around the point and then a very long port tack leg upwind to the base of the cliffs at the end of the bay of Famara. Foiling speed 14/15 knots, so not much pressure in the sail. At the start of this stage the wind was still NNW in Costa Teguise but suddenly it turned ESE. Oh no if this happens in Famara ? it will be carnage. Especially between Lanzarote and Graciosa. If it was earlier in the day, they would have bomb shells vertically down the cliff at 40 knots. Get one on the head you are flattened. Be the correct side of the explosion, you get a massive lift. Wrong side flattened again.
I will let RYTIS explain what happened.
RYTIS:- as we were getting close to La Graciosa it was quite consistent but super light – 5 to 7 knots maybe. So, I was able to foil, but I could not keep the upwind angle of the lighter guys (at this point I was the heaviest guy left in the fleet, with more than 8kg on the next guy). So, I started falling behind. Then my strategy was to stay on the downwind side of the channel, closer to Lanzarote as I was hoping for more consistent wind there. Long story short I did not get it. The wind there was shifting direction around 180 degrees constantly. So, to keep moving forward I had to tack constantly, pump on every gust and go upwind meter by meter. It was horrible. And at that point my arms started cramping from all the pumping in the past 70km.
The leader came over the line in 1 hr 12m. RYTIS finished the stage but in fact never made it to the beach where everyone was having something to eat.
Stage 4, Graciosa to Costa Teguise. Phone calls were made, and the wind went back round to NW in Costa Teguise, so fine for this part of the race. In Orzola the wind was more North, so the stage was going to be a fast one. Yes as 6 guys rounded the northern tip of Lanzarote, it was foiling speed of 20/22 knots.
TWH:- As you rounded the corner, what was it like jibing down the coast ?
RYTIS:- It was a relief to finally have wind and not have to worry about getting stuck on jibe. However, since I was last at La Graciosa, I did not get any rest and my arms were still cramping. Therefore, I changed my approach and decide to go a little easier and try to recover my arms. Therefore, I finished last in that stage too. But I was finally having fun blasting down nicely powered up again.
The leader came over the line in 52 minutes and the last 8 minutes later.
Stage 5, Costa Teguise to Playa Honda. The wind was NW, so dead offshore. A reach with gusts probably up to 20 knots. 13 people joined this stage of high-speed action, foiling speeds of up to 25 Knots. The leader did this stage in 8 minutes.
TWH:- Did the wind do its normal games when it is in this direction ?
RYTIS:- The wind was super gusty, as we were sailing relatively close to the shore and in the gusts, it was over 20 knots. Since we were on a reaching course and with a gear that was set up to tackle 4 knots holes while going upwind it was not easy at all. So, we have 20+ knots, 9.0 on a foil with full power settings and we have already done 160-170km at this point. All these things means that we were going on the edge of control and some people were going over it. Luckily being heavier I could allow myself just to sit down in the harness more and have a touch more control at the same speed as others. Thus, I completed this speed reach without catapults and got 3rd place.
That completed the stages to count for the overall, onto stage 6 to complete the circumnavigation. Playa Honda to Playa Blanca. With NE wind this stage would be very tricky with variable wind but in NW a blast. Even just cruising they were doing 22/24 Knots. It must have looked very impressive as they went along the coast of Puerto del Carmen. The leader took 46 minutes for this stage.
The challenge was met and completed by 6 guys. 10 hours on the water.
- Mateus Isaac
- Sebastian Koerdel
- Ramon Pastor
- RYTIS JASIUNAS
- Jose Luis Boronat
- Miguel Martinho
TWH:- I hope this race is on next year, what a great race !Are you coming again RYTIS ? and I will let you end the article.
RYTIS:- It was one-of-a-kind adventures that really challenged me physically, technically, and mentally and even though it was extremely hard I want to do it again. Even more I want to do more of these ultra-long-distance adventures – so if you have something planned – hit me up!!