Archive for the 'Sport' Category
Olympic Lure Drives Arona Combined Events to Gold Standard

“My legs felt like matchsticks, it was painfull for me on the last stretch.” But still the smile remained after Holly Mills from Andover as sh was overtaken in the 800 metres final of the senior heptathlon at the Arona Combined Events weekend in the south of Tenerife. That dropped the 21 year old into fourth spot at the end of the meeting in the Estadio Antonio Dominguez near the beaches of Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas. . Zhen Ninali (below) clinched the top spot, only months after becoming naturalised Chinese after originally representing Canada, the country where she was born 22 years ago.Second place went to Maria Vicente with Noor Vidts of Belgium in third.

Holly recovered well and was soon weighing up the positives gathered from the two day event, to add to lessons learnt from the Covid restrictions.” I feel the disruptions to my training programme have given me more time to grow and figure out what areas I need to concentrate on. I was really pleased with the massive improvement in the javelin this weekend for a new personal best, and I have had a good indoor season after moving into the senior level of competition. “Arona Combined Events was a ranking competition so the overall points gained could propel athletes towards Tokyo. “I still have a lot to do in the next few weeks but i´ve shown myself that I am capable of a lot more to come. ” The big day for Olympic confirmation is on 1st July, so good luck to Holly to receive that landmark news.

Kate O´Connor competing for Ireland had a frustrating early end to her heptathlon after a leg injury kept her from completing her  final three events. it follows a complicated year. ” I was born in Newry in Northern Ireland but competed for Dundalk in the south and have also trained in Belfast and Dublin. The Covid measures were tough back home, even the national championships in Dublin didn´t allow for coaches to join the competitors. At least my studies in Sports Development at Sheffield University worked out well with course work done on line.” Kate was in upbeat mood after a first day that included a personal best in the shot put.

In the mens decathlon, there was a top two domination for the Czech Republic with Jiri Sycora taking top spot and Adam Helcelet (above) finishing just behind him. It was close all the way through the ten events but the duo both did particularly well in the high jump and javelin. It was the tenth Arona Combined Events , last year didn´t take place due to Covid. but it came back and coped admirably with the added restrictions. Athletes, coaches, and family members were the exclusive guests of the Andorra Hotel, just a short walk from the stadium. The Hospiten Green Clinic acted as a sponsor and took care of the PCR tests required before athletes could return home. Everything in the arena got constantly sprayed and wiped, the landing sand pit was squirted between jumps, and even the shot was soaked and wiped before its throwers could retrieve it.

This years tournement attracted 63 athletes from 19 countries as far away as Estonia, Switzerland, and Venezuela. The giant screen replayed the action, and it was available on line at laliga.com. In between races, a selection of Tenerife´s many natural attractions helped to bang the drum for tourism. None of that ever detracts from the legacy of this major sporting event. Local young hopefuls got valuable experince on the first day with races between the programmed challenges. It must be working, the weekend saw success elsewhere as the Caja Canarias Tenerife ladies athletics squad regained their place in the National League of Honour, and the mens squad confirmed their continuation in the top section , a status that goes back to 2008.

 

Pools, Pitches, And Sporting Pride In Arona

 

You wont find Tenerife sports venues named after, crisps, credit cards, or male grooming products. It´s more about honouring influential local figures. Take the busy Centro Deportivo Jesus Dominguez Martin “Grillo”, in Los Cristianos..Built in  1958, it´s eight 25 metre lanes of the swimming pool are churned up by swimmers of all ages, local and international. The tennis courts and multi use outdoor hard court with a suspended roof, are just as popular as the indoor sports hall where volleyball and boxing are among the many activities that take place.

Jesus Dominguez Martin “Grillo”, the nick name referred to his  constant energy which reminded people of a cricket, would have approved of the facillities. Born in 1926 to a local Arona fishing family, he excelled as a swimmer, becoming a 29 times champion for Spain with honours in crawl, breast, and butterfly strokes. Competing in 60 international competitions, he held 56 Spanish records and swam for his country in the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

And what of the imposing Antonio Dominguez Alonso stadium, home to CD Marino football club. Named after a local lawyer and politician born in 1849. Fourty years of civic service included six stints as Deputy for Tenerife, and twice as Senator for the Canary Islands. In later years Antonio moved to the Phillippines whre he became Governor of  Manila.

The stadium on the border of Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas, was built in 1969 and holds 7,500 for football and 27,000 for concerts. Originally Marino played at a now demolished ground nearer their fishing foiunders port in Los Cristianos. The smaller Anexo stadium next door didn´t join the family until 1998. Athletics clubs thrive around the running track and they welcome many international competitors, particularly for the annual Arona Combined Events two day event, on 12 and 13 June in 2021.

The Povedano gym has produced some top boxers and a big upgrade is due to see an expansion of training areas. Twenty years ago plans were drawn up to stage Spain´s Davis Cup tennis competition on with several courts on the football pitch area.That would have been a major serve for Tenerife sport. Maybe those plans could be dusted down in the future .

Dutch Duo Inspired To Row4Cancer In Atlantic Challenge

No land in sight, meagre food and water rations, and towering waves crashing around them. These are the prospects for the 21 crews in the 2020 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge rowing race. Mark Slats, along with Kai Weidmer are the Dutch crew of Row4Cancer. Mark, a carpenter from Scheveningen near Amsterdam, looked relaxed as he escorted their trailer loaded boat through Los Cristianos port in Tenerife for the short ferry crossing to neighbouring Canary Island La Gomera. Ahead of them was a 22nd December departure for a 3,000 nautical mile slog to the Caribbean island of Antigua.

Mark, a carpenter, is an accomplished adventurer, having set a solo record of just under 31 days for the crossing in 2017, That was inspired by his mothers fight against cancer, and also propelled him to compete in the 30,000 mile Golden Globe yacht race a year later. An Atlantic rowing competition was stablished in 1997 from Tenerife to Barbados based on the experience of Chay Blyth and  John Ridgway who pioneered ocen rowing in 1966. Talisker took over in 2011 and made it into an annual event, this is the eighth under their leadership.

Mark´s mother lost her fight against cancer in March 2020, he had already applied nearly a yesr before for the 2020 race and her loss made his resolve stronger. Covid intervened to disrupt the 2020 race planning. “After the Golden Globe race I was looking for another test. “Rowers have to raise 100,000 euros just to enter the Talisker Atlantic Challenge, to cover running costs, support services, equipment, and food before even starting on sponsorship for your chosen charity. Some companies backed off after Covid, especially those related to travel and hotels. We were lucky as we found many through building companies. There was another surprising help for us as less traffic on the roads reduced travel to our training sessions by about two hours each time. We had been putting in 25 hours a week on the water.”

The 21 crews for the 2020 race all use the same size boats, either new or second hand but the crews are always varied. For 2020 they are split into eight singles, two pairs, a female trio, and 10 fours, they come from several countries, 15 from the UK, with South Africa, Holland, and Spain also represented. Many crews are a mix of male and female, the one thing they all share is a burning ambition to finish the race and help their charities. Sleeping and shelter are catered for at each end of the boat, planning on and off splits for through the night watches is just another skill they have to master.

A logistics company shiops most of the boats to La Gomera, for instance the UK based craft are taken to the south of England, ferried over to France, down through Europe to Cadiz port at the tip of Spain, ferry to Santa Cruz in Tenerife, south to another ferry and out to La Gomera. Row4Cancer had an easier route. “We saved about 5,000 euros on shipping, I brought it through on the trailer to Cadiz and onward. There are always doubts as we approach the race but we look forward and keep focused on what we need to do. ”

There´s still time to sponsor Row4Cancer at their website and follow them at their website. To keep an eye on the race there´s the official Talisker Whisky website. Just think of them all ploughing through the ocean, experiencing christmas and new year in near isolation, and keeping bodies and minds ticking over. Fair winds to them all.

 

 

Dingle´s Golden Age Of Speedway Memories

Leg breaks, cracked vertebrae, and even a rare life threatening lung infection couldn´t keep Dingle Brown from his love of speedway as a rider, manager, and promotor. Now a sprightly 80 year old settled in Adeje, Tenerife, Dingle reflected on his broad siding, shale shifting experiences. “Rayleigh Rockets were quite local to my home in Matching Green, near Harlow in Essex, and I made my debut for them in 1958 but my dad had already got me interested in speedway with trips to see West Ham Hammers, They rode at Custom House Stadium which was bigger than Wembley. ”

Travelling played a big part in a riders life. Each track had its own race night, and with guest slots and second half rides adding to regular duty, riders criss crossed the UK with bikes in vans or just pulled behind their cars on trailers. Injuries were always waiting to add a further test to a riders dedication. “I was racing at Exeter for Stoke and broke my leg in a crash, Stretched out full length I had to be strapped to train seats after windows had been removed to get me on board, The trip home involved a train to Swindon, then across to London via Liverpool Street to Harlow.  Even then after four months I discovered that a stand in doctor had got the traction treatment wrong and that stretched my recovery even further.”

Dingle still has the pin that was inserted into his leg, it ´s among his haul of momentos and photos from those days he still recalls with pleasure and satisfaction. A fractured spine came from a mid week crash at Kings Lynn and the cracked vertebrae was accompanied by a busted seat in another shunt. Few riders achieved the fame of World Champions like Barry Briggs, Ivan Mauger, and Hans Nielsen. For most it was a labour of love limited appearance and travel money. Dingle was working as a brick layer and later had interests in a car breakers yard, and boarding kennels, They were busy times as Dingle went on to ride for West Ham, Poole, and a nice round trip for “home” meetings with Scunthorpe Saints.

Team speedway used the classic formula of seven riders a team, two of each in the 13 heats, with points for finishing places also adding up for the overall team scores. Dingle also got to wear the Great Britain team jacket in an international clash with the Czechs and enjoyed further international experience.”I got to ride in France, Germany, and Holland and met some great riders. Back home, Australian Peter Moore made a big impression on Dingle.”Peter was the fastest out of the gate that I ever saw, One of my special memories was reling him in for a last heat win in a league matvh on a borrowed bike. “Barry Briggs was another top rider who made an impact on the sport. “Barry introduced the Czech made Jawa bikes to British speedway and they took racing to another level.”

Despite his many knocks and bumps, Dingle´s biggest threat came from within. Always young at heart, in his later racing years he began to suffer from bouts of unexplained tiredness and got a medical opinion. ” The doctor found growths on both lungs and warned Dingle it may be cancer. Further tests left the doctor as shocked as I was to find I had sarcoidodis, which was very rare and difficult to treat. Maybe my overall fitness helped, somehow with rest and care it faded away and I felt back to my old self.”

Even when Dingle hung his leathers up, speedway lured him back. “I was asked to be team manager for Mildenhall and was even given the track licence for a while. Later Wimbledon Dons asked me to cover one night as track manager, I ended up there for four years, ending up as promotor just before the Plough Lane stadium closed and was demolished in 2005. ” The site has now been redeveloped as the new home of AFC Wimbledon and should stage football before the end of 2020.

Tenerife has no speedway racing pedigree but the AGM of the British Speedway Promotors Association has taken place in Playa de Las Americas for several decades. Dingle had met a few speedway friends over here and made the full time move eight years ago. That´s how this lapsed Oxford Cheetahs fan came to meet Dingle and flicking hrough his latest copy of the World Speedway Riders magazine, I was thrilled to see a feature on Dag Lovaas, my first Oxford Speedway hero from watching the then named Oxford Rebels in 1975. Dingle spoke warmly of his second half rides at Oxford in the early 1970´s when Colin Goodey, Ronnie Genz, and Arne Pander were senior riders there. Cowley Stadium has defied the wishes of property developers since its 2005 closure and a few good people are still hoping to bring speedway back. The national picture isn´t quite as rosey, a few weeks before meeting Dingle, the BSPA ruled out UK racing for the 2020 season due to the coronavirus. Dingle has speedway in the blood, and new generations are simularly driven and ready to ensure that speedway will overcome all setbacks to thrill more sports fans in the near future.

 

 

 

 

 

British Swimmers Find Fitness And Friends In Arona

Half term holiday brought full dedication from the swimmers of four British swimming clubs as they ploughed their way through the 7 lane, 50 metre long Olympic sized outdoor pool in Los Cristianos, Arona. All were regular annual visitors to Tenerife and the Complejo Deportivo Jesus Dominguez Grillo in Avenida Chayofita for early morning training.

Southport Swimming Club had the 7.30 to 9.30 am shift under the watchful eyes of their Head Coach, Mark Patrickson and his three coaches. “We’ve brought 30 male and female swimmers, over the 10 years we have been coming over it’s changed a little from mainly 9 to 13 year olds to 12 to 18 years old. The programme works well, we do 11 two hour sessions during our week stay. In all we have 80 people in our party, as most swimmers come with parents on a mix of flights. There’s a well worn tradition of meeting up early on the first training morning on the steps of the Apolo Centre, handy as we stay at apartments in San Marino, Tenerife Sur, and Cristian Sur. We always get made welcome in the area, The Shires in the Apolo Centre does two big sittings for us to have breakfast on the way back from the pool. The junior and national championships are coming up early next year so the Tenerife training gives them all a boost to improve their performances.”

Next in the pool were Ulster Schools Swimming Association, they have been coming to Tenerife for 30 years, in the early days they trained in Puerto de la Cruz but are keen converts to the south. Head Coach Katherine Wiley outlined their own particular needs. “We have 26 swimmers, two coaches, and three managers with us. It has all come together fairly quickly for our under 14s as they had to qualify for the trip via galas in the province. They are pretty much strangers to each other so that makes it slightly more difficult but they soon make new friends, we are have a 30 year reunion soon, many of those attending will have become friends through trips with us. The immediate aim is the Irish championships in December. Our regular base here is the Bitacora Hotel just up the road, they look after our needs and we fly in with Jet2, their easy check in service for the luggage means all their gear is waiting for us at the hotel.”
Team Manager Heather Henderson was also struck by the welcome that Ulster receive. “ We walk to the pool from the hotel and they buy water and bits and pieces at the Papelaria Raquel shop on the way. Raquel is a real character, on the last day she treats them all to pastries and lollies.”

The pool is also well used by local groups, schools, and for public swimming sessions. It was noticeable how attentive the staff were to the teams needs. Susanah Garcia, who manages the pool for the Arona Council smoothes the way for all the visitors, it all makes for a relaxed atmosphere of encouragement and support from the coaches and managers at pool side. During the week the teams became a regular sight at Los Cristianos beach, and took time out at Siam Park. Their distinctive kit bags, team shirts, and joyful enthusiasm were their constant companions.

Pooling their talents were the combined Ards, and Banbridge Swimming Clubs, also from Northern Ireland, who come over as one party. Team manager Michael Angus, one of four team managers, put them through their paces. “This is our third year over, this time with 24 swimmers, slightly younger with a 12 to 16 age range. It´s all about building them up with the short course national and European trials next on the horizon, they need to hit peak form at the right time.”

Talking of choices, the party made the right flight choice. “There are two airlines that cover our trip, when we booked we went for Jet 2, the other choice would have been Thomas Cook. Our base is Paradise Park Hotel, it´s up the hill from the pool but the walk to and from the pool for the two daily sessions is all part of the experience, and they look after us very well up there.”

Arona Combined Events Reaches Out To The Olympics

As the world took a long run up the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Tenerife stole the spotlight by providing an early qualifier with Austrian heptathlete Verena Preiner recording the third best score of 2019 with 6,472 points, shaving 52 points off the entrance mark. Verena´s last event 800 metre victory was a fitting finale to the  Arona Combined Events weekend in Playa de Las Americas. With full recognition by athletics governing body,the IAAF, and meeting points counted to competitors rankings, it’s become a magnet for potential champions. For the latestedition it was even streamed world wide on You Tube.

Eleven countries were represented in the 10 event mens decathlon, and seven event womens heptathlon, with Brazil, Estonia, and for the first time the United States. The setting of the Estadio Antonio Dominguez showed Tenerife in its best light, and as always a large team of local volunteers backed up athletics coaches and administrators from Arona, to ensure all ran smoothly. I dipped into the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions, arriving as the mens long jump, and ladies high jump competed for attention, although the giant screen relayed all the action. In between warm ups, warm downs, and frantic bursts of on track action, I caught up with the USA trio, Curtis Beach, Dan Golubovic, and Teddi Maslowski. Curtis explained how they came to make their first visit to Tenerife.

“ We don’t get any meetings solely focussed on combined events back home, so as our coach from Duke University in North Carolina was away for June, it seemed a perfect time to try a different competition. I flew over via London, and Dan via Madrid, the organisers, especially Victor and Javier have been very welcoming and helpful so it’s made it easy for us to settle in. I arrived a few days ahead of the event and managed to see Mount Teide and some of the beaches. I’m from New Mexico so I felt quite at home in the dry heat. There was a little head wind for the 100 metres on the first day that slowed the times a little but we’ve been able to push ourselves ready for the USA Championships in July.”

It turned out to be a particularly good meeting for Dan who finished in fourth place after the two days, ending with a flourish after topping his group in the javelin on the Sunday evening. Teddi, from Pittsburgh, made light of a niggling injury to have a solid two days including a 5th place in the long jump.
“ We’ve come without a coach so are pushing each other, it gives us a different approach to usual but makes for a more relaxed attitude. I came over with a little fracture in my leg from a long jump in the States two weeks ago but I’m working though that, I even managed to tackle a camel ride during some exploring when I got here. It’s our first time here so it’s been good to see the beauty of the island, I visited a few places around the coast, like Los Gigantes.”
All competitors get three nights in the Zentral Hotel, just along from the stadium, but many have chosen to stay on for extra days elsewhere around the island to relax with family supporters.

Every year brings a good sized contingent from Great Britain and Ireland, this year there were seven, including Andrew Murphy from East Kilbride who took seventh place overall, the long jump gave him a big opening push on the Saturday morning. Scott Connal, a 19 year old from Edinburgh also made a big opening leap to propel him to third place in the Under 20 Decathlon. Other notable achievements from back home came in the long jump with a 6th place for GBs Jenna Blundell in her group, and top spot for Holly McArthur and 3rd for Anna McCauley in their javelin as well as long jump group. Hot weather training and competition works well for athletes but some take the reverse route, 19 year old Marissa Vaz of Portugal has been living and training in Sheffield.

The Arona Pruebas Combinado doesn’t just bring publicity to Tenerife, it also has a practical influence on local athletes. Between the main competiton events, clubs from Arona run their own youth events, giving the next generation a taste of bigger competitions and a chance to learn by seeing experienced performers in action. There’s a lot more than raw power to being a winner, technique counts for a lot, the javelin, and shot putt were good examples of that. As for the pole vault, the splattering of coloured markers to guide the leapers to their launch spots took almost slide rule precision. The sight of Manuel Dias clearing the bar with Roque del Conde in the background was a combination of strength and grace.

There was plenty of inspiration over the weekend, Norway’s Martin Roe was solid in all the disciplines to take the Mens Senior Decathlon, he also picked up a 250 euro bonus for his 8,037 points, ahead of Kristen Rosenberg of Estonia a good gap away in second with 7879 points. The Senior Heptathlon battle between Verena Preiner and Noor Vidts of Belgium, brought out the best in both of them and 3rd placed Vanessa Chefer of Brazil. Jorge Dani Lopez took the Decathlon Under 20 title, the Heptathlon Under 20 was a Spanish clean sweep for Nuria Menendez Sanchez, with Ivet Rovira Figueras in second, and Alba Ramirez Martin in third.

Looking forward to 2020, it’s not just the Olympic year, but also the 10th year of the Arona Combined Events. With the commitment shown by Arona Council, and the athletics community, it will be another weekend to look forward with relish.

San Silvestre Golden Mile Is A New Year Honour

It was not about the few pounds that had appeared in December, or pre empting the New Years resolutions to get fit. The 3rd Arona San Silvestre Golden Mile run was a fun gathering for all ages, on the edge of Playa de Las Americas and Los Cristianos in Tenerife,with 19 categories of races from short dashes for young children of 4 and 5 upwards, to the full 5 km route down to the sea, along the front, and back along The Golden Mile. It’s fame is growing, and the afternoon farewell to 2018 had an international feel, with the two overall winners coming from Germany.

Jannik Arbogast headed the field with a time of 15.28.39 and Johanna Flacke was the leading lady in 18.26.57. They were in a party of five friends from Karlsruhe , near the southern border of Germany, members of the local athletics club and also keen cyclists with Bikronos. The run was the perfect topping for their two week training trip to Tenerife. In between them, second placed Ayoze Perez Tejera (no 3), representing Trivalle Guimar Restaurante, clocked 15.35.09, and third overall was Miguel Angel Vaquero Agama (no 2) for the Tenerife Caja Canarias team in 15.41.51. Wigs and multi coloured skirts were a good clue to distracted shoppers and holiday makers that it wasn’t all about winning.

Running with a group of friends was a popular idea, the Charco del Pino Farmacia werea great advert for good health, in fact they were in the pink. Sport and Beers might not be recommended by some doctors but their team still had a healthy orange glow at the end of the race. Evolution with their Santa suited under his red robes, poured themselves some cold Dorada’s at the end of their team effort. Trust the Glasgow ladies to find the Dorada, but you do have to replenish your liquids. Pauline Douglas, a fitness instructor, and Valarie Davidson were over on a weeks holiday, saw an advert for the race, and signed up.


There was a good sprinkling of British in the run, 60 year old Phllip Seddon is a keen runner with Darwen Dashers in Lancashire. As well as being a regular in the London Marathon, he had recently taken part in the Cyprus Marathon, and his Tenerife holiday was boosted when he saw an advert for the San Silvestre. Wigan now has a reputation as the running capital of the UK, after an amazing haul by five family friends. Sami and Zak Manir-Jolley took the first places in their junior categories, Lynn Manir-Jolley got second in hers, a feat equalled by 16 year old Ben Woods, Mo Manir-Jolley added a third in his own group. Lynn and Mo run for Wigan Phoenix, and the other three are members of Wigan Harriers. Watch out for Ben Woods, he is also an accomplished footballer who plays for the Academy team of Burnley FC.


It took a mammoth effort by Arona Council and their team of organisers to make the afternoon run so smoothly with 800 runners taking part. The entrance fee was a mere five or ten euros depending on how early you signed up, and that included a commemorative vest, medal, and extra awards for the top three in each category. There was also plenty of free water, bananas, and even cake to replace the runners energy after their exertions. Look out for the 31st December 2019 race at www.gesportcanarias.com

Ding Dong Merrily On High Seas For Atlantic Rowing Challenge

Bloated with food and drink, maybe snoring a little in front of HRH on the telly. Suddenly a jolt and a slap of salty water and they’re back in the real world, facing 40 foot waves, aching muscles, and curious creatures of the deep. That’s the festive scenario for the 28 crews in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, the rowing race that set out from La Gomera on 12th December, bound for Antigua, 3,000 miles away. I had the pleasure of meeting the crews in the marina in San Sebastian, a few days before they got into their cramped 8 metre long, 2 metre wide boats. What an incredible collection of people, here’s a quick look at some of their Christmas plans and their reasons for being so far away from the rustle of brightly coloured wrapping paper.

The festive season will still be jolly for the four female crew members of Astro To Atlantic from Devon. Helen Symons has a Boxing Day birthday to look forward to, and Louise Read her 50th birthday on New Years Eve. Sharing a passion to play hockey for Kingsbridge & Salcombe, the ladies are reaching high for the Devon Air Ambulance Trust after seeing the good work they do. Two on, two off rowing shifts will allow some sleeping time in the cabins as they set a cracking pace with the four mens record of 37 days as a guideline. Their special treats will be revealed from a stash of Santa snack bags, two of the crew admit to problems with sea sickness but hopefully that will be conquered in the early days.

Kelda Wood (above) from Shropshire has more room as a solo rower in Row To Raise but will have to be strong to cope with isolation and sleep deprivation. Catching sleep as the boat drifts is not a recipe for sweet dreams, and the sudden siren warning of near obstacles will lurk in the back of her tired mind. Kelda is a survivor, a love of horse riding turned sour when a heavy bundle of hay fell on her and nearly robbed her of one leg. That was in 2002, since then Kelda has recovered well and despite having a fused ankle she has hit life full on, including climbing the 6,900 metre Aconcagua mountain in Africa. Helping others to overcome physical and mental setbacks through her charity Climbing Out is her driving force, and her “crew mates” will help to make Christmas Day special. M.P the penguin is a gift from her niece, and Hardy will remind her of her own full size dogs. An inflatable Santa, and a boisterous sing song will confuse the seagulls but keep her mind positive.

Tim Crockett (above) moved from his native Hereford to Atlanta to get married 13 years ago but was lured home to train in his UK built boat, Tame The Kraken. The former marine and SBS veteran admits to having that sinking feeling when on a boating trip with the Hereford Rugby Colts as a youngster. Chopping the days at sea into six blocks of four hours, Tim will judge his sleep breaks according to the call of his body, and trust in a para anchor, a device that operates 20 feet below the sea´s surface to stop drifting. Combat Stress and Support Our Marines will benefit from his fund raising drive. Tim has a Christmas cake stashed away, but he will have to ration himself so it can deliver another lift for his New Years day birthday.

Not a crumb will be wasted from the rowing crews morale boosting morsels, and that´s music to the ears of the two woman crew of Whale Of A Time. Jemma Rix from Colchester works in the food industry and is passionate about cutting down food waste. “Most of our 500 dehydrated meals on board have come from what is often discarded as surplus, with good management and care so much food can have a longer use.” That expertise has given the ladies a real taste of yuletide tradition, they have dehydrated turkey to brighten their big day.
Lauren Woodwiss from Birmingham met Jemma at Reading University an had some running experience before the friends decided to enter the Challenge. They are going to try to mix rowing shifts to break the monotony and keep as fresh as possible. Their inspirational quote on the top of one cabin hatch, comes from the film Bridesmaids, but their charities are their biggest driving force. “We have chosen Cancer UK, and The Mintridge Foundation – they help children with mental and physical problems.”

Team Tyne Innovation are a mixed foursome of three men and one woman, and were late in completing their line up after a series of setbacks. Tyneside locals Phil Kite and Kate Hughes were joined in April 2018 by Steve Sidaway, and Allan Huntly from Stirling. Phil is confident that they have the right pieces in their jigsaw. “Fate has dealt us a good hand, we are going to enjoy the challenge and trust and understand our instincts along the way.” They have had help from sports psychologists and will have a crack at the mixed four record of 56 days.
They are using the trip to showcase a range of north east talent, the boats paintwork is from Gateshead, and the design is from Newcastle, it certainly catches the eye. Their charity is Daft As A Brush, offering practical support for cancer patients. Light relief from relentless rowing will come in the form of Secret Santa surprises including hats, false beards, and even a cigar or two.

Although the record finish for the Atlantic route stands at 29 days and 14 hours for a solo rower, it´s more of an endurance test than a race for most crews. The last finishers after a few are inevitably forced to cut the journey short, will take up to three months and have a lot of sleep deprivation, extreme weather, mental anguish, and disorientation to deal with. Even the build up of raising funds for boats and equipment before chasing donations to their charities, and training, are punishing but the journey will dish out new emotional highs and lows on a daily basis. The drama started early for Yorkshire team Men Of Oar, they found a small split on the join of the hull and had to return to the marina after just a few minutes, thankfully they repaired and regrouped and went out a day later.

You can track the race here, and donate to the above mentioned causes at the links on their boat names. They are all heroes.

Scottish Golfers Flag Up Cancer Contribution

They love their golf and they love helping others. A keen field of 50 locally based golfers took on the challenging and visually pleasing Amarilla Golf Course for their annual Scottish Tenerife Open competition on 6th and 7th November. They doubled up on the previous year with a further 8,000 euros for FACT – Fighting Against Cancer Tenerife.

Starting each day just after 10 am with a shotgun start, they started at different holes to converge on the clubhouse for a well deserved cool off. After the score cards had all been tallied up, the winner was Alex McMullan, followed by Peter Hipkiss, with Mark Ross picking up third place, and Dean Adams clinching fourth position.
It wasn´t just down to the on green action. The money started rolling in with a Ladies Button competiton on the Monday at Bad Bobs Bar, netting 736 euros. On the Wednesday night, the presentations were made at The Crystal Palace on The Patch in Playa de Las Americas. Events on the night, and also at The Star Bar in San Eugenio swelled the funds to the new record return.

There were plenty of tales of shots just missed and luck deserting players on their crucial putts. There´s already a hunger to improve on personal performances next year, and a desire to push the fund raising total even higher. The cause is special to all the players and they can´t wait to take up the challenge again next year.

Arona Pool Laps On Many Shores

Even the sandy beaches of Los Cristianos have a rival when it comes to attracting competitive swimmers to the Tenerife municipality of Arona. There’s hardly a week goes by when an international swimming club doesn’t immerse itself in the eight lane, 50 metre Olympic sized pool at the Complejo Deportivo Jesus Dominguez Grillo in Avenida Chayofita. I caught up with some old friends from the Aards, and Banbridge Swimming Clubs from Northern Ireland, and found many newer, and older converts to the outdoor sports centre.

Team managers Michael Angus, and Fiona Cleland were two of the four coaches with a party of 30 male and female swimmers aged between 13 and 18 years old. “It’s half term so a good chance to get them together for some intensive warm weather training” explained Michael, a long term holiday visitor to Los Cristianos as well as an annual coaching swallow. “We have 230 swimmers just at Aards club, we have long term links with Banbridge and many of the swimmers know each other so there´s a good competitive but friendly edge to training.”

Fiona outlined the schedule for the week long visit. “We have two pool sessions a day, one early morning after a light breakfast, and one late afternoon. Fitness and technique are worked on but we like to have a different focus each session. Paradise Park hotel is our base, a short walk up and down the hill each work out, which helps to limber everyone up. It´s a comfortable base for us and they look after us well.” It isn´t just work, the swimmers had a few beach fun excercise sessions, and visited Siam Park water kingdom to enjoy some adventure rides. There are always targets to aim for as Michael outlined. “Next up are the Ulster short course, and Irish short course championships, the girls have the Ladies Junior championships ahead, and there around four or five swimmers who have realistic hopes of making the 2020 Tokyo Olympic squads.” It might seem a logistical nightmare to bring a large party of youngsters to Tenerife but Michael isn´t phased. “We fly in and out of Belfast International airport, we have a block of seats together, and everyone looks after their own kit.” Pointing to the distinctive orange, and lime green kit bags Michael chuckles. “The colour scheme makes it easier to pick out everyone as we spread through the airports.”

On the training camps, there are often other groups using some of the other lanes so they soon make new friends. Fiona pointed out a Swedish mother and her daughter who was over to sharpen up her own competitive skills. “We got chatting and invited her to join in our routines, its all good practice for mixing in international events.” There was a strong Northern Ireland influence as a separate Ulster Schools party (in blue) were also over with a break that overlapped the Aards and Banbridge schedule. They had an even longer history of Tenerife swimming as teacher Heather Henderson explained. “Ulster Schools used to pop over to train in Puerto de la Cruz 22 years ago, before moving down south a little later. We are slightly different to the other party, we have 25 swimmers, they have to qualify for the trip through school galas. During the week here we will put in 13 sessions of two hours each as we prepare for the All Ulster championships which include three areas in the south of Ireland as well. Our long term base has always ben the Bitacora Hotel on the edge of Playa de Las Americas, they always make us welcome and it’s a short walk from the pool.”


I have visited several other UK swimming clubs in Los Cristianos over the years, such as Southport, Camden, and Swansea, they all impressed with their dedication, good humour, and devotion to their chosen sport. Arona makes a big commitment to youth sport in the municipality, through football, athletics, and swimming and welcomes overseas parties to hire the facilities and enjoy the delightful weather. Commercial use of facilities at off peak times helps to balance the books, and it´s a pretty impressive way to show off the charms of Tenerife. A major refurb is on the way for the swimming complex but in the meantime it is of course open to the public, check out their Facebook page. You might not become a future medal winner but if it makes you as healthy and happy as the dedicated overseas visitors, that´s a golden reward in itself.