With one week to go before the ARC 2016 fleet leave Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia, crews from the 205 yachts already berthed in the marina took part in the official ARC 2016 Opening Ceremony. The final 15 yachts are expected to arrive in Las Palmas over the next few days, bringing the fleet total to 220 yachts, for the rally’s 31st edition.
At midday Sunday 13 November hundreds of ARC participants took part in the Official Opening Ceremony for ARC 2016. Flag bearers from 31 different nations representing the countries of the yachts in this year’s rally joined the procession as it made its way around the marina. The grand parade had a real festival atmosphere and many crews took part in the patriotic display by bringing a boat’s mascot or dressing up for the occasion. Following the principal flags of Spain, Gran Canaria and Saint Lucia, the international conga line was led by the Banda Gran Canaria, with Bateria Samba da Ilha beating a salsa rhythm at the back.
A warm welcome to the ARC sailors was made by Saint Lucia Minister of Tourism, Dominic Fedee who promised wonderful hospitality and delicious rum when the crews arrive after their Atlantic crossing, which was met with great applause. He also thanked the people of Las Palmas for over three decades of partnership between Gran Canaria and Saint Lucia during the history of the ARC. Concejal de Ciudad de Mar, Senor Jose Eduardo Ramirez encouraged crews to enjoy their time in the city and Consejera de Turismo del Cabildo de Gran Canaria, Señorita Inés Jiménez then wished them all a safe crossing to Saint Lucia. World Cruising Club’s Managing Director Andrew Bishop then declared the 31st ARC officially ‘Open’ and fireworks echoed around Las Palmas Marina concluding the Opening Ceremony for ARC 2016.
In the first week of ARC activities in Las Palmas, crews have enjoyed daily social events, seminars on cruising topics and the opportunity to plant another 200 trees in the ARC Forest in the mountains above the city. The second week of the pre-start programme is the busiest, as more crew fly in and the yachts start their provisioning and finish off last minute preparations for the Atlantic crossing.
Start day for the ARC fleet is Sunday 20 November and thousands of spectators will line the city shore to watch the boats start. The first start gun will sound at 1230 for the Multihulls, followed by the Racing boats at 1245 and then the cruising boats, making up the majority of the ARC fleet, at 1300.
Photo caption: Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee with ARC Managing Director Andrew Bishop at flag raising ceremony.