Green Flag Beats Yellow Alert For Water Ski Racers

How dare the weather try to rob us of the return of waterski racing to Puerto Colon, thankfully the expertise and hunger of some of Europe’s top racers ensured half of the planned Tenerife Open International went ahead. Queues lined the pontoons of Puerto Colon marina as holiday makers waited to board pleasure boats, the sun sparkled off the sea, and the island of La Gomera was crystal clear. Sounds perfect but a yellow weather alert and strong waves rolling onto the beaches of Playa de Las Americas meant that Saturday’s action was postponed but it merely sharpened appetites for Sunday’s racing in improved conditions.

At least the cautious waiting on the opening day gave me a chance to catch up with competitors and families that I met at the World Championships at the same venue two years ago. This was a smaller field but 11 boats were assembled in the pits area with skiers, drivers, and in boat observers from Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, France, and Austria. The camaraderie of the enthusiasts overcame the need to ship boats in at great expense, some have a semi permanent home in the large boatyard, well Tenerife is growing as a centre for the sport. Skier Nadia Jay Mersey, driver Barry Clapson, and observer Simon Smith from Essex were pleased to get their hands on Kraken, their loaned boat.

It’s a sport for all ages, 15 year old Sarah Bennett, a GB skier from Norfolk couldn’t believe her luck when a pre planned Tenerife holiday coincided with the tournament. Part of her plan was to take part in Sunday’s twin skiers exhibition races but moving the main competition back a day stopped that. The pits were busy with fine tuning, not all of it high tech, washing up liquid was one of the most sought after commodities – good for easing the ski straps around the legs so I’m told. Safety always comes first for these daring participants so the news of Saturdays call off was accepted as a sensible move. A few of the boats did get to test the waters around a limited version of the long oval race course.

An early Sunday start found the waters in much more agreeable mood and they whizzed through the main competition before the big waves reared up again. Sarah Bennett got a third spot in the Euro Kids B category with Laura Fuentes winning. Euro Kids A went to Jorge Garcia, and Adrian Martin took the Junior crown with the Under 21 race going to Sergio Gutierez. Sabine Ortlieb of Austria took the ladies title before the mens final, trimmed from 45 to 35 minutes plus one lap. Belgium’s Robin Marien added the F2 title to his trophy win in last year’s Tenerife Open. The F3 champion was Marcos Llanos behind Crabzy. The weather may have conspired against them but waterski racing again proved that it can offer another exciting dimension to Tenerife’s sporting calendar. Even as they went through their paces news was breaking that Puerto Colon is in pole position to stage the 2016 European Championships.