Until last weekend, no relay team had attempted the challenge, and at Vies Braves we were fortunate to be able to accompany, advise and validate the first crossing of Cap de Creus in relay. We are very proud!
The adventure started very early at 5.57 a.m. on Saturday at Palangrers beach in Roses, and took 9 hours and 40 minutes. The 4 swimmers in the relay team, Armando (ES), George (UK), Spyros (GR) and Piers (UK), swam in wetsuits and always stayed in the same order, never spending longer than 1 hour in the water. This rule set by the English Channel Association made it possible for the crossing to be validated as official.
Video of the Challenge ↓
The strategy for the trial was thought out based on the weather forecast. Of the two days they had to make their attempt, the Saturday was obviously the better one. However, a moderate southerly wind was expected to start blowing at midday, so the decision was made to leave Roses very early in the direction of Port de la Selva. The faster we passed Cap de Creus, the sooner we would be protected from the southerly winds. In addition, if it arrived too early, it would blow in the same direction we were swimming in and would help us make progress. Passing Cap de Creus wasn’t easy. We had achieved this by about eleven thirty, boosting the whole team’s morale. Once swimming to the north of Cap de Creus and believing that we were already protected from the strong southerly wind that was blowing, we realised that we were drifting and had gone considerably off course. We managed to recover just before we started swimming the Golfet. The frequency of the relay increased in the last stretch to Port de la Selva, and some members of the team even swam for a while without a wetsuit. Finally, at 3.48 p.m., we reached the Paso de Port de la Selva beach, concluding the adventure.
The Cap de Creus crossing is one of the most unknown, wild and authentic ultra swimming marathons in the world.
The challenge consists of swimming the 30 kilometres that separate two emblematic towns of the northern Costa Brava, Roses and Port de la Selva, surrounding the perimeter of the Cap de Creus Natural Park and passing before Cadaqués.
It is also possible to do a variant, lengthening the route by about ten kilometres to the border town of Portbou.
Regardless of the starting point for the swim, the route quickly enters the marine reserve of the Natural Park which is dominated by a rocky landscape carved out by the Tramuntana, passes in front of bays like Jóncols and Montjoi, crosses Cap Norfeu and the easternmost point of the Iberian Peninsula, the famed Cap de Creus, and runs through much of the “Mar d’Amunt” to the north of Cap de Creus. This protected area of coastline is known for its rich biodiversity, healthy ecosystem and exceptional landscapes. However this is also a maritime area that is feared by sailors, due to the unpredictable weather conditions and the strong north wind that is usually blowing, the “Tramuntana”.
Crossing Cap de Creus places great demands on swimmers who want to attempt it: the ability to swim in water at a temperature between 18-21ºC, physical and mental preparation to overcome all the unfavourable conditions that might arise, such as currents, strong winds or fainting, and very good planning and organisation. Factors like weather conditions, economic resources, assistance boat, escort kayaks, medical assistance, food and a local and qualified expert pilot and support team are essential for success in this challenge.
Likewise, swimmers need authorisation from the maritime authorities and must inform Maritime Rescue at all times.
Finally, the strategy is key in this type of crossing: choose the best time of year for the crossing, understand the weather conditions in the area, wait for a good weather window and decide on the best route depending on the weather conditions.
Since 2013, only 2 swimmers have swum the crossing without a wetsuit: Miquel Sunyer (Roses – Port de la Selva, September 2013) and Tita Llorens (Roses – Portbou, June 2017); and another 4 have done it with a wetsuit: David Rodríguez, José Caireta, Pau Cuso and Gerard Rutis (Roses – Portbou).