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November marks the start of ‘ARC Season’, as over 250 yachts gather in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to prepare for their transatlantic adventure to the Caribbean with the annual ARC rally.
The first wave of 96 yachts will depart on the ARC+ rally on 5 November bound for Grenada via Cape Verde, with a larger fleet of 159 ARC yachts departing on 19 November direct to Saint Lucia.
ARC rallies provide a supportive environment for cruisers, and it is exciting to see increasing numbers of families pursuing the blue water dream. A record number of 65 children will cross the Atlantic with the ARC rallies this year.
Catamarans are clearly a popular option for families, comprising almost two thirds of family boats. More families choose to sail on the ARC+ route, which divides the Atlantic into two legs with a four-to-six-day stopover in Mindelo, creating a more manageable voyage for small sailors.
45 children will sail in ARC+ 2023, aged from 8 months to 16 years, and a further 20 children in the direct ARC route to Saint Lucia.
Children of all nationalities soon make friends within the fleet, with family boats moored together in Las Palmas Marina, and a children’s activity club available to give parents space to provision and prepare for the ocean crossing.
Racing to the Rum
ARC is the only World Cruising Club rally with a competitive racing division, and 14 monohulls will race under IRC from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia.
Boats to watch include the sleek Vismara 62 Leaps & Bounds 2 (MLT) and the pair of CNB 76s SOL (MLT) and Playstation PS5 (MLT) will undoubtedly enjoy a tactical tussle.
The ARC Racing Division is popular with boats heading for a Caribbean racing season, and regular participants EH01 (GBR), Hot Stuff (GBR), Emily of Cowes (GBR) and Escapado (GBR) deliver a taste of competitive ocean racing to amateur crews under the watchful eye of a pro skipper.
Some of the speedier multihulls are likely to challenge the racing yachts into Saint Lucia, with the new Marsaudon ORC50 Ti ana (FRA) a hot tip for line honours. Owner Régis Guillemot was first across the line in ARC 2019 with his previous boat Hallucine, a Marsaudon TS5.
Giving keen competition will be Outremer 51 Piment Rouge (FRA), which previously claimed the ARC+ line honours.
Each rally begins with World Cruising Club’s ‘Yellow Shirt’ team supporting two weeks of preparations, seminars, activities and socials in Las Palmas. Highlights of the programme include lectures on ocean cruising topics from rigging to communications and an excursion to plant trees at the ARC Forest environmental project.
Ensuring their boats are rally-ready, many skippers have undertaken Virtual Safety Equipment Inspections prior to arrival and these will be followed up with checks in port before departure.
These checks provide great reassurance, running through the necessary items to ensure a safe ocean crossing covering over 3,000 nautical miles.
Whichever route they follow, rally participants are ensured of a warm welcome in the Caribbean, every landfall celebrated by the World Cruising Yellow Shirt team and fellow rally participants.
Camper & Nicholson’s Port Louis Marina in St George’s, Grenada is the final destination for ARC+ while the ARC finishes in IGY Rodney Bay Marina in Saint Lucia.
Arrivals enjoy a programme of activities that culminate in a prize giving ceremony for each rally, recognising the achievements of the fastest in each division and class, of seamanship and of the spirit of the rally.
For some, the ARC and ARC+ is the gateway to a grander adventure, sailing around the world with WorldARC, others look forward to a winter of Caribbean racing and cruising before returning across the Atlantic with ARC Europe.
SOURCE: World Cruising Club
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