After two extra nights in Las Palmas, ARC 2012 cruising boats finally set sail to join the racing division boats already at sea en route to Saint Lucia. A total of 226 boats and 1,269 people are now participating in the 27th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers.
For the first time since the ARC began in 1986, the boats started within the port of Las Palmas, manoeuvring in an area just outside the marina before crossing a line formed by the harbour breakwaters.
Las Palmas Port is one of the busiest in Europe, and the Port Authority worked hard to ensure that the ARC boats could start safely without disrupting the commercial operation.
The port start was a great success, with boats in close proximity before the start guns sounded. The commercial traffic added to the sense of occasion, with several sounding their horns.
A brisk 15-20 knot north easterly wind sped the fleet clear of the city and they were soon heading south away from Gran Canaria. Most boats will continue to sail south until they are within the established tradewinds, when they will turn west towards Saint Lucia.
First of the 17 multihulls across the line at 1045 was the Simpson family’s Catana 431 Intrepid Bear (GBR) with Harry (5), Milly (7) and Thea (9) onboard. The larger cruising boats started with the multihulls, and in this division Oyster 655 Sotto Vento (GBR) lead Oyster 82 Raven (GBR).
The largest ARC division, the cruising boats, started at 1100. There are 155 boats in this division, including family boats sailing with children. First boat to cross the line was Italian XP-44 Ariennta 4.2 (ITA), with Hanse 531 Savarna (NZL) and the Karlsson-Smythe family’s Jeanneau Just Nuts! (IRL) following close behind.
Cruising boats Vendetta (SUI) and Amoress 2 (SWE) were a bit too keen to get underway and crossed the line before the start sounded, but with 2700 NM to go, most boats were more relaxed.
A full list of ARC 2012 boats is available online at www.worldcruising.com/arc. All boats are fitted with Yellowbrick trackers, and can be followed online at www.worldcruising.com/arc/fleetviewer
First Delay Since 1989
ARC organisers, World Cruising Club, took the decision to delay the cruising boat start from Sunday to Tuesday to allow a frontal system to pass through. News of the postponement was met by spontaneous applause from participants, and there have been highly favourable comments about the handling of what has been only the second delayed start in ARC history.
Managing Director Andrew Bishop said: “As a cruising sailor myself, I would not have enjoyed the predicted conditions for my first night at sea, so we made the sensible decision to delay the start for the cruising boats until the low passed through.”
Crews used their extra hours in Las Palmas to relax and enjoy the city, do last minute laundry and re-check their preparations.
The fastest raceboats are expected to make landfall after 12 days, but with favourable winds, Capricorno’s (ITA) ARC crossing record of 11 days, 5 hours and 32 minutes set in 2006 may yet be beaten.
The majority of boats will take 18-21 days to make the 2700 nautical mile Atlantic crossing, arriving in Rodney Bay Marina in time for the prize giving on 21 December.
* Start: ARC 2012 departs from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on Sunday 25 November, with an additional start on Tuesday 27 November for the cruising boats.
* Finish: The finish destination is Rodney Bay Marina in Saint Lucia, a distance of 2,700 nautical miles from Las Palmas and it is a passage that will take most of the yachts between 18 and 21 days.
* The ARC is a fun rally for cruising yachts. Boats are allowed to motor, although motoring times are taken into account when calculating the results.
* The ARC Racing Division is run under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) using IRC ratings. Yachts in the Racing Division are not permitted to use their engines for propulsion.
* Entries: ARC Official Entry list www.worldcruising.com/arc
Tracking: follow the ARC boats online using the Fleet Viewer www.worldcruising.com/arc/fleetviewer.aspx and read their at-sea blogs www.worldcruising.com/arc/dailylogs.aspx
* The first ARC left Las Palmas in 1986 and has run every year
* The current ARC course record is 11 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 30 seconds, held by Italian maxi yacht Capricorno (Rinaldo Del Bono), in ARC 2006
* ARC 2012 is sponsored by the Tourist Board of Gran Canaria, the Port Authority of Las Palmas, the Saint Lucia Tourist Board and is run in association with Yachting World magazine.