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In an emotional evening focusing on the achievements of the crews taking part in the 37th edition of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), the traditional ARC prizegiving party on Saturday 17th December marked the end of the transatlantic sailing rally for another year.
Held at the Beausejour Indoor Facility, the evening provided a rousing conclusion to the annual ARC, and a chance to recognise the achievements of the fastest and slowest, the oldest and youngest, and the couples and families that are so much a part of this classic sailing rally.
It was an evening of celebration and a chance to cheer on friends and family members in the spirit of the ARC, one of camaraderie and adventure, which makes each one of over 800 ARC sailors a winner, not just those on stage to receive awards.
Six weeks ago, a myriad of yachts gathered in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to begin their Atlantic sailing adventure with ARC 2022.
The cosmopolitan fleet, representing almost every sailing nation, over 60 different boat manufacturers, and crews aged from 3 years old to over 80 have grown together to become a band of ocean sailors, now united by a wealth of memories and experiences from their time at sea.
Departing Gran Canaria on Sunday 20 November was a special moment for the crews of 138 yachts; whether they were experienced ocean sailors, or heading off on an extended passage for the first time, the prospect of spending several weeks at sea and realising a cherished dream of sailing to the Caribbean made for an emotional send off.
At sea, the first week delivered plenty of special moments bearing the hallmarks of a great ocean sail – highs and lows included.
Strong winds south of Gran Canaria greeted the fleet, testing boats and crews for their first nights at sea but the steady trades then settled to become a downwind sleigh ride to Saint Lucia.
At the end of week two the trades had blown themselves out and an unseasonal weather pattern in the North Atlantic disrupted the tropical airflow.
The waves were replaced with glassy seas – the perfect excuse for a mid-Atlantic dip, but the cruising crews called on their engines for a few days to keep up their progress to Saint Lucia. As the third week continued, normal service resumed and strong easterlies were once more blowing boats on towards the Caribbean, peppered with a few pop-up squalls.
At 20:42:26 local time on Thursday 1 December 2022, Saint Lucia welcomed Marsaudon ORC 50 Malolo (USA) marking the advent of the ARC in Rodney Bay.
Ever since, yachts have steadily arrived on the docks of IGY Rodney Bay Marina, comparing tales, triumphs and testing times during their passages. Each emotional welcome has been followed by much talk of how each boat has coped with their navigational choices and weather encountered along the way, as well as open-ocean moments that have made for an unforgettable crossing.
Many boats supplemented their provisions with freshly caught fish, others encountered mesmerising whales, dolphins, and even a shoal of yellowfin tuna, and some daring crews opted to take a mid-Atlantic swim! The jubilation of reaching land after a tougher, or longer, crossing than anticipated has created an exceptional atmosphere, particularly evident at the prizegiving ceremony concluding the rally.
ARC Event Manager, Andrew Pickersgill led proceedings for the evening, welcoming almost 120 crews on stage to receive awards.
The biggest cheers came for crews who were recognised for their achievements and contributions to the overall rally atmosphere – crews of the boats which diverted to assist other yachts were all thanked, and there was a special mention for Robert Falck, who switched boats to help the crew of Take Off following their dismasting.
Other presentations included the first Double-handed crew on corrected time (Wilhelm & Nicole – Bluewater Mooney), Senior Skipper (John Marett aged 80, of Chantoosie) and Family Boat awards including Best Family Performance on corrected time, to Oskari on Toucan. Many other fun prized were awarded recognising the Best Logs, the Fishing Competition and acknowledging the Radio Net Controllers and Finish Line volunteers.
A rousing cheer was given to the 10 ARC yachts still yet to arrive in Saint Lucia after delaying their departure or returning to land following the start after encountering boat problems. The volume of the applause as their names were read out may well have been heard out in the Atlantic!
Awards were also presented for line honours and class winners including: Paradox (Division 1: Class A), Impuls (Division 1: Class B), Vahine (Division 1: Class C), Sunbeat VI (Division 1 Overall and Class D), Montana (Division 1: Class E), Escapado (Division 2: Class A), Malolo (Division 4 Overall and Class A) and Aphrodite 1 (Division 4: Class B).
The ARC’s presence in Saint Lucia has been firmly felt around the Caribbean island and the prizegiving ceremony also gave the opportunity to thank the many local supporters who have helped provide an exceptional welcome to participants.
IGY Rodney Bay Marina General Manager Sean Deveaux and Loraine Sidonie for Events Company Saint Lucia both spoke, and Lorine Charles St-Jules, CEO of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority gave an enthusiastic speech to acknowledge that the crews will forever be welcome to enjoy the many delights of Saint Lucia and encouraged them to return.
In an emotional end to the evening, retiring World Cruising Club Manging Director Andrew Bishop, spoke about the strong bond between the ARC and Saint Lucia, forged over 33 years of the island offering a Caribbean home to the finish of the ARC.
For Andrew, who has been involved with organising the ARC since 1990, this was his final ARC, and he received a standing ovation from the assembled ARC crews, to bid him farewell.
The Spirit of the ARC award was, as usual, saved for last. Each year it is awarded to the yacht or individual that best displays the spirit of camaraderie that the rally creates amongst the fleet.
For ARC 2022, the award was given to the crew of Aphrodite 1, recognising their selfless actions to help the crew of Take Off immediately following their dismasting; crossing over to Take Off in dangerous swells to provide urgent medical attention, help clear the damaged rig, donate fuel, and then sail alongside them during the night.
The assembled ARC crews rose to their feet and gave the second standing ovation of the evening to the Aphrodite crew.
With the last prize presented, the 2022 edition of the ARC was formally brought to a close, and the bars were opened.
The rally this year has been one of great rewards for overcoming the weather and navigational challenges encountered along the way; unique friendships have been formed, special memories have been made and the ocean sailors of ARC 2022 can all feel rightly proud of their achievements to reach the shores of Saint Lucia.
SOURCE: World Cruising Club
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