Sea Fever

British novelist, playwright, and poet John Masefield was born on the 1st June 1878 in Herefordshire, England. Both his parents died before he turned six and he grew up under the care of his aunt, a woman who did not approve of his addiction to reading, which he developed at a young age.

In 1891 he began a life at sea and spent several years aboard the HMS Conway, where he spent a lot of time reading and writing. In 1895, after a brief illness, he boarded a boat destined for New York, however, his passion for writing led him to abandon ship upon its arrival in the US and he spent several years living the life of a drifter. He returned to England in 1897 where he married, had children, and embarked upon what would later become a successful career as a writer.

Sea Fever appears in his first book of collected works, Salt-Water Ballads, published in 1902. In 1912 he was awarded the annual Edmond de Polignac Prize and was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1930 until his death in 1967, the second-longest period of office ever held, after Tennyson. Masefield promoted poetry throughout his life and organized competitions, prizes, and annual recitals.

John Masefield’s  poem Sea Fever is one of half a dozen poems I can never recite in public because the lump it brings to my throat makes me incapable of uttering a sound. It is perhaps his most well-known work and describes the poet’s longing to go to sea. Despite its first-person poetic voice, the principal theme of wanderlust is one that transcends the speaker and can be identified with by many, including this poetry teacher with a lump in his throat trying to tell his students how wonderful this work is.

Perhaps because Masefield spent time as a sailor aboard different ships he was able to effortlessly demonstrate his love for and affinity with this lifestyle.  Sea Fever is brief and simple, yet its lyrical composition, repeated refrain, and poetic devices render it a perfect poem to be either read aloud or reflected upon in solitude.

Sea Fever seems to flow like music, yet in a way that we might think reflects the uneven rhythms of the sea.

The tourist centre of Playa Blanca (our home for the past five years) recently hosted the qualifying tests for the Tokyo Olympics of three sailing classes. This was advertised as The Lanzarote International Regatta 2021, a pre-Olympic event that took place here in the south of Lanzarote from March 19th to 26th. A base created in Marina Rubicón, that would normally have thousands of tourists trailing around the harbour, instead offered guaranteed facilities, including different ranges of fields all training and competing and enjoying the quality tourist services demanded by elite sport.

The mayor of Yaiza, (our municipal borough) Óscar Noda, highlighted that ´we accompany athletes from 33 countries who compete in the Olympic dream, and enjoy and promote the benefits of our tourist destination´.

The Lanzarote International Regatta 2021, and the weeks of preparation, gathered together more than 500 people, including sailors, technicians and companions, for 121 boats registered in the championship in the participating classes: Nacra 17 mixed class man – woman, foiling catamaran (flies over water); 49er FX female class skiff (very fast boats); and 49er class male skiff (very fast boats). The regatta awards the final places for the Tokyo Olympic Games of the three classes for European and African countries.

Óscar Noda verified all the assemblies and resources that made such a success of the sports camp in the southern marina. Together with the Yaiza Councilor for Sports, Ángel Lago, and the director of Marina Rubicón, Rafael Lasso Lorenzo, he visited the facilities a few days before the start of the pre-Olympic round, and heard the positive opinions of some athletes about the experience in Playa Blanca. Among the group were the Brazilian Martina Grael (skipper) and Kahena Kunze (crew member) who told him of their aspirations to retain the gold achieved in Rio 2016 in the 49er FX class in Tokyo.

´The Yaiza City Council collaborates with logistics,´ the mayor explained in his public address. ´The Cabildo (Lanzarote government) does so with an economic contribution through the SPEL, of which we are a part, and thus we are joining forces to enable the realization of an event of global impact´.

The Olympians themselves and their teams reported on successful social networks, the exceptional conditions for training, the summer weather that accompanied them in Playa Blanca and the natural beauty of Lanzarote. The Japanese subsequently decided to come to Playa Blanca to train alongside the strongest competitors.

Óscar Noda also pointed out that ´just as sailing is an initiation sport at an early age, it is also a long-lived activity, in such a way that athletes who now compete in the Olympic elite, later do so at the highest level in other challenges such as round the world journeys or races. They will now always consider Playa Blanca as a stopover or training place.´´

Prior to the qualifying events this March, Playa Blanca had accommodated, since September 2020, Olympic sailing delegations of the Nacra, Finn, 49er, 49er FX, Laser, Laser Radial and Windsurf classes, a significant economic boost in difficult times.

In fact we reported on these pages in an article called Sails On The Water, still available in our archives, about how, in the depths of Lanzarote lockdown, these athletes had brought income to the few restaurants who had remained open but which might not otherwise have survived. These athletes from all around the world also brought us a shining example of optimism and fraternity and with their clothing and sailing paraphernalia brought a welcome bustle and splash of colour at a time when it was most needed.

As much as anyone else here on Lanzarote we will celebrate the return of the tourist trade later in the year. However, we won´t deny there have been some benefits to be had during this period of isolation. We have enjoyed uninterrupted views of the boats training out at sea whilst being aware that at other times such viewing points would have been at a premium.

Camaraderie, colour and competition are all surely ingredients of art and the arts make a massive contribution to the health and wealth on this lovely island of Lanzarote, surrounded by beautiful blue waters. ,…… and that reminds me,…

*I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
and the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
and a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
and all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
and the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

It seems we on Lanzarote recently have all had a touch of *Masefield´s Sea Fever.

From a distance we watched some of the class time qualification races, from the safety of the shore, of course. The first class to compete was that of 49ers, completing three qualifying races on the day, each one made up of four windward-leeward sections, in which the Irish Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove prevailed.

The Spanish team of this classification that will represent Spain in Tokyo, composed of the Cantabrian Diego Botín and the Galician Iago López, currently stand in fifth place, after a difficult start. The team told the La Voz newspaper that ´in general it has been a good regatta, but we had problems in the race-exit´. The Spanish duo, currently second in the world rankings, have been training in Lanzarote since November, and said the island has been ´a discovery, especially because of the conditions that exist in these winter months.´

´Since there is always wind, there are many waves and you can choose the conditions in which to train,´ affirmed the Cantabrian sailor.

Watching from terra firma the speed of these sailing vessels, and the sharpness of their turns, looks quite incredible and it all makes for a colourful spectacle. Perhaps because of covid restrictions, though, there are no bespoke viewing points and nor does there seem to be any form of organised tannoy announcements of times and placements etc.

Of course I´ll do my best to bring you up to date with results whenever I see them, but even finishing places can be deceptive as it seems that most races are against a qualifying time that, if attained, guarantees an invitation to compete et this year´s Olympics.

Look, I´m just a journalist and I´m doing very best to show you how little I know about this. Its not like I´m expecting a medal or anything.

Hang on, hold that thought. My Editor has just sent me a link to the official website of the Lanzarote International Regatta, which is packed with up to the minute information as of 9.10a.m. on Friday 26th March when I received said e mail. And yes, I know I should have thought of that.

However, let me give you a quick ´sports headlines at the end of the BBC news´ type of whizz round what´s been happening during the week.

The Olympic places for Tokyo 2020 are still open. Finland is close to a ticket to Tokyo in the Nacra 17 flying catamaran, Ireland holds the 49er pass, while Belgium is in contention for the pass and the Medal Race. The final will be broadcast live on the Olympic Channel and World Sailing.

The Spanish duo of Diego Botín and Iago López have mathematically won the Lanzarote International Regatta with the best score, while the Canary Islands’ Tara Pacheco and Catalan Florian Trittel continue to dominate the Nacra17. Brazil dominates the 49er FX, but Tamara Echegoyen and Paula Barceló are in the top five.
Lanzarote has once again given us a perfect day for sailing. The easterly breeze, however, has spared no room for mistakes with a left hand side favoured race track making essential a good start and consistent speed. The top teams kept the manoeuvres to a minimum. With flatter water than normal, especially on the 49er courses, the Teams were at full speed. With the wind forecasted to be turning to the right crews could yet encounter a very different sea state!

Day 5 of the regatta saw consistent conditions, with all the groups finishing in record time in each race, which gives us an idea of the good weather conditions in the Canary Islands for sailing and water sports 365 days a year. The Spanish team once again excelled on the Lanzarote race course, with the golden duo of Cantabrian Diego Botín and Galician Iago López in first place in the 49er, achieving the best score of the entire competition.

´Very good conditions these last two days, perfect wind and waves´, said their coach, Pepe Lis. In his opinion, the boys have sailed very well, ´taking advantage of their strong points and coming back when the start wasn’t good´.

In this same discipline (49er), the Irish continue to lead among the countries that are playing for the Olympic pass, so Robert Dickson and Sean Waddilove will compete later today (Friday 26th March) in the Medal Race for the pass to Tokyo.

´We had a very good day, with very good speed and keeping the right direction´, said Waddilove. However, they don’t have it in their hands yet, as the Belgians, Yannick Lefebvre and Tom Pelsmaekers, have made it into the top 10 and are in contention to qualify for the Medal Race, and could still surprise us during the final qualifying race before the Medal Race.

Nowhere has the competitiveness and the desire to get to Tokyo been more noticeable than in the Nacra 17 races, where the Finnish pair tried to confirm their place at the Tokyo Olympics, achieving a first place in the third race, but an off line puts in doubt that the Olympic ticket will carry their name. “The weather conditions were great and we had very good starts, but in the first leg we got stuck in the top mark, in the second leg we did better and in the last leg we were first, but apparently we had an off line, which left a bad taste in our mouths,” lamented Sinem Kurtbay and Janne Jarvine, although they have lodged a protest. The Greeks have also managed to move up to the top 10 in Nacra 17, so it is possible that they will compete for a European place.

In the women’s Olympic 49er FX class, Brazil’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze continue to dominate, although they have not had as good results as in previous days, but they continue to lead this class. On Thursday, the Galician Tamara Echegoyen and the Mallorcan Paula Barceló have excelled and have managed to position themselves in the top five. However, Brazil and Spain have already qualified for the Olympic Games, but there are two countries that will compete directly for the place in Tokyo, the Belgians Isaura Maenhaut and Anouk Geurts will compete against the Croatians Enia Nincevic and Mihaela Zjena.

´First we need to qualify, but tomorrow is going to be a tough day, Belgium is about 20 points behind us, but we will give our best,” said Nincevic and Zjena.

As at close of eventing on Thursday 25th March, The Spanish team continued to dominate the Lanzarote International Regatta, with Canary Islander Tara Pacheco and Catalan Florian Trittel holding first place in Nacra 17, plus Cantabrian Diego Botín and Galician Iago López topping the 49er. Could we see the same result in Tokyo 2020?

You Tube highlights have been posted regularly throughout the week, and there are dedicated tv channels showing live streaming too. And for those of you who would prefer clearer and more precise details of events and results there is comprehensive coverage at but cut me some slack, and let the rope out a bit will you please. I´m doing my best, and its not as if I am expecting a medal or anything !!

It might have been a difficult and frustrating week for this journalist but we have loved seeing the coastal waters of the island looking so busy and colourful for a Lanzarote International Regatta 2021 that included contributions from around 500 people, including sailors, technicians and companions, for more than120 boats registered in the championship across the participating classes.

Darío Dorta, sponsorship director of Naviera Armas Trasmediterránea, who were the main sponsors of the event told Lancelot Digital that ´this regatta framed in the commitment we have with sport, and especially with sailing, with which we have always walked hand in hand.´

The surely accidental reference to walking on water might make the whole event sound even more miraculous than it was but it has actually felt as if seeing something so warm and vibrant amidst the coldness of covid has, indeed, been a miracle.

The Lanzarote International Regatta 2021 provided a platform for ´Lanzarote, the Canary Islands and Spain worldwide,´ said Dario, ´since it is a qualifier for the Olympic Games and we, from Naviera Armas Trasmediterránea, have worked side by side organisers in the the transfer of sailors to Lanzarote and their trips inter-islas, and the material for the regatta, in such a way that all these athletes were able to carry out their activity.´

Naviera Armas Trasmediterránea is the leading shipping group in Spain and one of the main in Europe in the maritime transport of passengers and cargo sector. It transports more than five million passengers annually, has a fleet of 36 ships that connect the main ports of four countries and operates almost 100 passenger and cargo connections on the Balearic, Canary Islands, Ceuta, Melilla, Morocco and Algeria routes.

He concluded by speaking of how ´for a company like ours being directly involved in a world event is a source of pride and, of course, we will continue working so that all Canarian and Spanish athletes follow their trajectory sports not only between now and the Olympics, but in the years to come´.

Certainly, with so many events being held on our local see front, and seeing the athletes, working on their crafts, practicing on the water and relaxing in restaurants like Lani´s snack bar in the Marina and overhearing international discussions about tactics and seeing friendship being made has ensured that we, too, will keep an eye on sailing events in the Olympics, and we have even heard from a Lanzarote neighbour currently at home in the UK that Alison Young from the Great Britain sailing team, Laser Radial, is now an honorary member of the (Trimpoli?) Sailing Club after attending one Sunday recently to coach, and inspire, their junior members.

After the regatta on Lanzarote closed on the Friday, after da y of strong winds and high water, we spent the following day at LilyJacks finca retreat at La Florida (watch out for a forthcoming report on what is a truly beautiful place venue and experience). On the way back down to Playa Blanca in the late afternoon we passed a convoy of lorries and wagons heading in the other direction, all carrying canoes, kayaks and catamarans and crafts of all kinds, some bearing the names of their countries on the side. We passed Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, Great Britain and Spain vessels all heading to the airport or to a ferry terminal. It felt slightly eerie and somewhat sad to see them go, but hopefully they will take home as many happy memories as they have left with us and will return in years to come with family and friends.

They will be very welcome !

  • Agua Clara