The competition started today with the 24-Hour Challenge, a course of more than 300 nautical miles that will test the trimarans’ offshore capabilities in the trade wind conditions that prevail in the islands. The start took place at 11:00 am in front of San Cristobal, south of Marina Las Palmas, from where the fleet will then head out to round Gran Canaria in a counter-clockwise direction. After completing this first leg, they will set course north on a long 90-mile stretch parallel to the west coast of Fuerteventura to circumnavigate the island clockwise back to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. “Depending on how fast they complete the circumnavigation of Gran Canaria we will decide whether to round Fuerteventura or return along the same uphill leg,” explains Race Director Gilles Chiorri. “The goal is to get as close as possible to completing the race in 24 hours.”
The weather forecast ensures a spectacular battle for victory, with wind conditions ranging from 10-15 knots north at the start to 25-30 knots on the leg that will take the fleet in front of Gran Canaria airport, with average 18 knots. The teams will have to manage the intensity of the wind and negotiate the areas of lulls caused around the islands. “This is the most exotic destination on the circuit and the one with the most complicated conditions for these boats,” warns Chiorri.