The journey between islands is part of the day
to day of any islander.
In the old days, it was a matter of survival, but
nowadays, travelling by sea has trivialized what
were real maritime epics.
This open ocean crossing between Madeira island and the Selvagem Grande island, is the fullfiment of a dream held for many years. But it also aims to resurrect the oldest way of travelling by sea: “Being blown downwind”.
João Rodrigues has competed in the Olympic windsurfing class for more than 16 years. He won the World windsurfing Championships in Port Elizabeth, South Africa in 1995. He is now planning to sail the 160 miles between Madeira Island and Selvagens Islands, Portugal’s most southerly point.
João Rodrigues is expecting to make this open ocean crossing in 12 hours. It will surely be the longest ever attempted by a windsurfer all on ther same tack.
By making this unique attempt, Joao intends to promote the Portuguese natural heritage and call attention to the conservation work done by “Parque Natural da Madeira” in their several natural reserves, as well as the vast biodiversity in the Selvagens Islands, which, as Charles Darwin stated many years ago, are bigger than the Galápagos islands.
This year, we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Selvagens natural reserve, the first natural reserve in Portugal. By amusing coincidence, João Rodrigues is also celebrating his 40th birthday on 2nd of November. It seems then a fitting moment to make the crossing
João Rodrigues was world champion and vice-world champion (1995 in Mistral One Design and 2008 in Neil Pryde RS:X) and four times European champion (1994 in Raceboard, 1996 and 1997 in Mistral One Design and 2008 in Neil Pryde RS:X).
He has represented Portugal in 121 international competitions and won 51 medals (22 gold, 16 silver and 13 bronze). He’s now preparing his sixth Olympic Games for London 2012, after being in Barcelona 92, Atlanta 96, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.
He’ll also be the ambassador for the European championships 2012, to be held in Funchal, Madeira, in March.
The intention is to pick a weather window in which to make the open ocean crossing from Madeira to Selvagem Grande. At the same time, the national park rangers will change shift with the help of the Portuguese navy to avoid any environmental impact and increased costs.
This is how João Rodrigues will enter his forties, surrounded by open ocean waves and blown downwind.
João Rodrigues was born in Funchal, Madeira island, on the 2nd November 1971. He’s a graduated engineer from the Technical University of Lisbon, and is currently the technical advisor for the regional office of the Secretary of Education and Culture, as well as a windsurfer/sailor obviously!