João Rodrigues has entered the Guinness Book of Records
after sailing more than 160 consecutive miles (257 kilometres)
between the Islands of Madeira and Selvagem Grande, on an
RS:X One Design windsurfing board.
It was an early morning start. 0645hrs to be precise. Wind speed 17knots. Ahead 160 miles of open Atlantic ocean to Selvagem Grande Island to the SSE. In the first five and a half hours, Joao averaged an impressive speed of 19 miles per hour. In the last 30 miles, two metre waves slowed progress somewhat. His overall average speed was 18.6 miles per hour (30 kilometres per hour). Arrival time 1706hrs local. Crossing duration just over 10 hrs.
Of his RS:X equipment, Joao said at the onset of this attempt... "I have waited a long time for a board like the RS:X - that can reach 30 knots - to come along to try this otherwise impossible crossing. This crossing was only possible due to this technology"
Now you have the dry facts and figures. What you don't have is a clear insight into the man who achieved this awesome feat.
Rodrigues has represented Portugal in 5 Olympic Games. He won his first world championship is Port Elizabeth, South Africa - itself first discovered by Portuguese navigators - in 1995 sailing the Mistral One Design. He may attain 40 years of age this year but last week he was racing in the Skandia Sail For Gold Regatta in Weymouth, England where he finished 12th.
Joao is certainly one of the best RS:X windsurfers in the world. He has now realized an old dream. Linking Madeira and Selvagem Grande across the open Atlantic Ocean. This by no means an easy task. It takes grit and determination to hang in there on such a marathon non-stop crossing.
Lesser men would have postponed the attempt citing the need for rest after a gruelling Olympic sailing regatta which 3 time Gold medallist Ben Ainslie described as tougher than the Olympic Games. But no, Joao knew he could do it.
He has another dream though, wholly unconnected with this Guinness Book of Records crossing. It is to compete in the 2012 Olympic Regatta. His qualification should be a mere formality. Sadly, for reasons entirely beyond his control, the funding that is so desperately needed may not come through.
I won't go in to those details here but if anyone reading this out there on the interwebs has the money to sponsor this worthy cause, don't hesitate to do so. But before you pick up the phone, know this. Joao did not make the crossing today to highhlight his lack of future funding. He made it because he had a dream and had the courage to follow it...
As the cherry on the cake, João decided to go on from the Selvagem Grande, the (big) island to the Selvagem Pequena, (small) island... a mere 11nm further or a short 45 minute hop. The next stop after that is the Canary Islands, but that’s a further 120nm so that's not for today :)
Madeira Nature Reserve’s on-line facebook updates
Promo video, with sailing on location, by Henrique Seruca
About Madeira Nature Reserves www.pnm.pt and blog
João, cover and editorial in luxury magazine, June issue. (sorry, it’s in Portuguese!)