Lanzarote, the most northerly of The Canary islands is fast establishing a reputation as a mecca for extreme sports fans. The world famous Ironman Triathlon on the island is renowned as the touhgest of them all. Now there's a new kid on the block a new event called Las Tres Islas a quadrathlon involving four disciplines, across three islands, with two sea crossings in just one day.
The 'Las Tres Islas' took place on Saturday 12th June, and was a huge success.
The event started with a morning swim from La Graciosa to Lanzarote. La Graciosa is a beautiful, unspoilt island 2 KM north of Lanzarote. This was followed by a steep cliff climb of 650 meters over 2 KM. Next was a cycle ride of 66 KM along the full length of Lanzarote, with the final leg being a sea crossing to Fuerteventura using natural power only.
Uniquely, competitors were able to enter as either individuals or as a relay team, and there was a huge range of ages and abilities. Seasoned Ironman athletes competed alongside local businessmen and women who had simply entered for the challenge. The individual men's winner was local triathlete Jurgen Coppens, women's individual winner Gemma Deeves and the winning team was Tony Croxford, Warwick Pemberton, Jonathon Trollope, and Paul Sully.
The weather was perfect for the day, with calm seas for the swim leg and winds gusting to 30 knots for the sailing leg resulting in kite and windsurfers completing the 10KM crossing in around 30 minutes.
Organisers were praised for their attention to safety a huge fleet of water vessels, including several yachts, more than 10 Zodiac rescue craft and even a police cutter followed proceedings, whilst air support was provided by a helicopter and a gyrocopter.
The event was organised by Youths United SL, a company with a reputation for organising extreme sporting events linked to charity. Their current oficial charity is ADAPH, a charity registered in Morocco, dedicated to helping disabled adults and children in The Sahara. Lanzarote is less than 100 KM from the coast of Africa and Youths United are helping to establish cultural and economic links between the diverse cultures.
Las Tres Islas was the brainchild of Youths United director Tila Braddock, a 36 year old Englishman who has been resident in Lanzarote for 18 years. Tila was also an individual competitor: "This first running was outstanding we have had so much positive feedback from everyone involved. It's the first time an event has brought together sailors and land based athletes, genuine sports people and those who just wanted to be a part of it. We're getting calls at the office already from people who want to enter for next year, and from sponsors who want to be involved, and the best thing of all is that we raised enough money for ADAPH to be able to buy ten wheelchairs."
Louie Hubbard, from French based Destination International, who filmed the event for a Eurosport feature said: "Lanzarote provides the perfect setting for this type of event the terrain and weather can be harsh and must be incorporated into the training and planning, but the islands are full of people who excel at all kinds of sports and Las Tres Islas has brought so many of them together for the first time. It was fantastic to be able to film swimmers crossing a calm section of the Atlantic at the start of the day, to see them race against a volcanic backdrop in 100 degree heat in the middle of the day, and finally to watch them battle high winds and heavy seas for the last leg. The windsurfers and kite surfers flew across, but there were also three guys in kayaks who amazingly made it over in great time."
A total of 70 competitors and more than 100 volunteers were involved on the day, and all were transported to Fuerteventura, for the finishing party on the beach, which lasted into the small hours.
Photographs of the day and details of all the sponsors and finish times can be viewed at Youths United's website www.youthsunited.com
Youths United's next project is The Dash a yacht, wind surf and kite surf race to The Sahara from Lanzarote. There is even an entrant of a canoe. The Dash takes place on 17th July.