Start for ARC 2016
The 31st Atlantic Rally for Cruisers sets sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Following years and months of planning, two weeks of
preparations and provisioning and final hours of farewells, the yachts taking part
in ARC 2016 made their way out of Muelle Deportivo in Las Palmas de Gran
Canaria this morning. There was an air of excitement throughout the marina as
the ocean adventure truly begins for 1,307 sailors setting off to the Caribbean
shores of Saint Lucia.
Friends and families of the sailors as well as local well
wishers and staff from the businesses around the marina lined the dock,
cheering and dancing to the loud music blaring out in celebration of the start.
Brass band Banda Canarias marched around the marina serenading every pontoon to
add to the festival feel. It was an incredible farewell atmosphere as the
harbour gradually emptied leaving bare pontoons for another year. The Tourist
Board of Gran Canaria, the Port Authority of Las Palmas and the city government
of Las Palmas, have been wonderful hosts to ARC participants for the past two
weeks and it is their continued support that makes the atmosphere in the lead
up to start day so spectacular.
Boats had to identify themselves as they left the marina and
headed through a 'gate' before making their way to the start line. To the
delight of the spectators, several crews dressed up for their departure, danced
on the foredeck as the gathered their fenders and lines and waved their nations
flags to bid farewell to their Canarian hosts.
While the ARC is a cruising rally, there is a start and finish
line, and the boats are split into divisions according to size, type and
competition. A total of 212 yachts sailing under the flags of 31 nations
crossed today's start lines. "It was a really great, classic ARC start
with lots of lovely sunshine and wind from the northeast." Said ARC
Managing Director Andrew Bishop, "The Racing Division in particular was
quite exciting on the line and then the Cruising Division afterwards. With 150
boats you can't help but be impressed with the spectacle of so many boats
starting at once. The message for all of the boats heading away from Las Palmas
de Gran Canaria is to sail safely and to enjoy what's going to be a fantastic
trip across the Atlantic."
At 12:30 UTC the horn on the Spanish naval ship Tornado sounded
for the start of the multihull and open divisions. Glorious sunshine and a
constant north easterly breeze of 10-12 knots saw the fleet glide across the
offshore line into the Atlantic. Twenty-nine multihulls are in the 2016 ARC,
including the exciting Nigel Irens design APC78 Allegra, and Knut Frostad's
Outremer 5X Nemo.
It was a particularly competitive start for the 34 boats in this
year's Racing Division, providing an exciting spectacle for all watching.
VOR70 Trifork and Swan 46 Aphrodite, were over the line
early and receive a 3 hour time penalty. In the beam reach provided by the NE
breeze, asymmetric gennekers were quickly hoisted on many boats, keeping the
crews busy soon after the start.
The 152 cruising monohulls, which make up 70% of the ARC fleet,
enjoyed classic conditions for their start, with a variety of coloured sails
hoisted soon after the 13:00 sound signal. Conditions look set to give the
fleet a gentle first night at sea, with winds staying around 10-12 knots from
the East-Northeast. A small area of low pressure mid-Atlantic will be causing
the navigators a dilemma, as the easy gains of a northern route may then bring
the boats into light winds later on the course. Playing safe by going south may
well be the best option for constant, if light, winds this year.
Today's departure of the ARC fleet sailing directly to Saint
Lucia today means a combined total of 287 yachts are sailing the Atlantic under
the ARC banner in 2016 - another record entry list for the rally. 71
boats in the ARC+ fleet departed Mindelo, Cape Verde for the second leg of
their crossing last Wednesday.
Of the 216 boats in the ARC, 4 are still in Las Palmas; 3 with
technical problems delaying their departure, and one boat, Hot Stuff, which has
had to return to port following a collision in the pre-start sequence of the
All ARC boats are fitted with YB Tracking satellite trackers,
allowing family, friends and fans to follow the fleet from the comfort of home
online at http://www.worldcruising.com/arc/viewer.aspx or via the YB Races app.
majority of boats will take 18-21 days to make the 2700 nautical mile Atlantic
crossing, arriving in Rodney Bay Marina, Saint Lucia. Whatever time they make
landfall, every boat will be met at the dock by Saint Lucia Tourism Board and
World Cruising Club staff bearing a welcome rum punch and cold drinks. There is
a full schedule of events in Rodney Bay for all ARC crews and their friends and
families, culminating in the ARC Prizegiving on 17 December.