Windsurfer missing off El Médano

Update 4pm: Sadly, Salvamento Marítimo have found the body of the windsurfer some 2.5 miles off the Arona coast. The poor man has been taken to Los Cristianos where the Guardia Civil were waiting to take over.

Update 15 January: The search for the missing Ukranian windsurfer has resumed this morning with land search and rescue teams, and a GES helicopter, joining the sea and air efforts.

Update 14 January: The search has continued throughout today for the missing windsurfer but without success. Rescue teams have increased the area being combed and are looking on land as well as continuing to search at sea with boats and helicopters. The search will continue tomorrow.

Original post 13 January: Search teams are in operation this evening looking for a 34-year-old Ukranian windsurfer who disappeared while windsurfing in El Médano around 6pm. The alarm was raised by a lifeguard, and this coincided with the man’s family calling emergency services themselves to report his disappearance. Salvamento Marítimo has mobilised a helicopter and lifeboat, and the search is continuing.


  1. This was a very sad story and it was preventable. I suppose this person was not warned about the dangerous waters of Medano when he rented his equipment. Same day, I was in the water, could have happened to me, but thankfully I was told about the currents. I am also surprised by the little publicity such events receive. If there are requirements for safety instruction (I know some windsurf schools in Medano provide it, but not all) and also there are signs on the beach, such sad events will rarely occur if ever.

  2. I feel that this needs a more detailed response. To start with, no one knows what happened, me included, so we can’t go saying it was preventable. I have windsurfed for 25 years and there many things that could have caused this death. Many would have been difficult to recover from and many others would have been completely survivable. We will never know which was the case.

    If the windsurfer was knocked unconscious then there is nothing that could have been done by anyone. If he was separated from his equipment then it comes down to how far from the shore he was. Usually an immediate, intense swim will let you catch up again. In very simple terms, the further you are from the shore, the more dangerous it is, and the harder it is to get back to the shore should anything happen.

    In every other situation I can think of, including most equipment failures, the guy should have been able to survive. Realising that it was a survival situation would have been important. The next step is simple to ditch the sail and mast, lie flat on your board and paddle… And choose a sensible course, not straight into the current, but across it. And take enough visual references to make sure that you are actually heading in your intended direction.

    The other point to note is that the waters of El Medano are not “dangerous”. Suggesting that windsurf centres should give out warnings on the current is just not fair on them. Nothing stops anyone unfamiliar with an area asking a local for the dangers and for advice. The current is exceedingly obvious in El Medano to any even moderately experienced windsurfer. Every time you drop in the water you drift at quite a rate. And it’s got to be obvious to anyone who cares to think about it that the water and waves that are pushed into the bay have to go around Montana Roja. And if you are not experienced enough to realise this then you ought to be staying close enough to the shore to be confident of swimming back.

    I believe that its not a case of not enough warnings, it’s a case of too many. Too many people simply trust that if they haven’t been explicitly told not to do something then it’s fine to do it. There seems to me to be far too much reliance on waving a hand and waiting for a jet ski to turn up rather than understanding how to rescue yourself. Too many people go out way too far, with absolutely no thought for what would happen if something broke.

    To reiterate, I don’t know what happened in this case, but all windsurfers should think and prepare themselves enough to be confident in the survivable situations.

    Cheers, Phil

  3. Author

    It was for reasons which seem similar to your thoughts that I decided to create the new “Risky Activities” page. People need to be aware, and to be self-aware, and then to take personal responsibility. I don’t know how we got to the point where “too many people simply trust that if they haven’t been explicitly told not to do something then it’s fine to do it”, and that it’s someone else’s “job” to make sure they don’t have to think, but it’s a very clear shift. This is of course a general statement, not related to this case. As Phil says, we just don’t know what happened …

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