With the 27th edition of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) to set sail later this week, preparations are well underway in Saint Lucia to receive the over 200 boats expected to cross the finish line in early December.
ARC boats will make landfall at the popular Island Global Yachting (IGY) Rodney Bay Marina, after making the 2,700 nautical mile journey from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. This distance will take the fastest boats around 12 days and family cruisers 18 to 21 days following their start off on November 25.
Over 230 boats comprising 1,300 crew members, including 42 children aged under 16, will take part in the 27th edition ARC. Eighty-five different boat brands/builders are represented in the fleet this year, making it one of the most diverse for some time.
Deputy Director of Tourism Tracey Warner-Arnold says, “Every boat will be welcomed on arrival (day or night) with much fanfare and treated to a basket of local fruits, chilled beers and rum punches.” This warm Saint Lucian welcome Warner-Arnold says, “Is just the start of the festivities ashore, with the whole community getting involved with the activities planned.”
The 2012 ARC signals Saint Lucia’s 22nd year serving as the finishing line and to commemorate this occasion, several new calendar events have been added on. They include Fete Kweyol on National Day, December 13th from 1pm in the ARC Village at Rodney Bay. According to Warner-Arnold, “this Creole party will feature a mélange of traditional Saint Lucian music, dance, drama, foods and showpieces from Saint Lucia’s rich heritage and will involve groups such as the Eastern Folk Band; Helen Folk Dancers; Masquerade, Toes and Saint Lucian drummers.”
Digicel’s Jazz & Blues Cabaret will kick off on December 15th from 7pm and will highlight Saint Lucia’s jazzy rhythms and jamming blues. The concert will feature performing groups such as Black Antz; the Saint Lucia School of Music jazz band and renowned guitarist Carl Gustave.
On December 16th from 4pm, an ARC Steelpan Playoff will be held at the ARC Village. Pan enthusiasts are being encouraged to join the ARC participants as four top Saint Lucia steel bands (Diamond Steel, Harmonites, North Stars and Babboneau Steel Orchestra) battle for the People’s Choice Award. The popular radio promotion ‘Chart the ARC’ will also take place this year.
The ARC brings significant economic and tourism dollars to Saint Lucia every December, and in return provides participating mariners with the perfect Caribbean getaway destination.
The fun starts in Saint Lucia on the day the boats set-off from Gran Canaria with the annual ARC Flotilla. Annually over fifty boats comprising yachting enthusiasts, the corporate community and sponsors take part in the mock event, which sets sail from the capital Castries to Rodney Bay. The final festivity of ARC 2012 is the awards ceremony on December 21, which rewards the fastest boats and special categories like ‘Spirit of the ARC’.
The current ARC crossing record was set in 2006 at just over 11 days. Follow the ARC 2012 fleet at www.worldcruising.com/arc
Presenting sponsors of the ARC are World Cruising Club, IGY Rodney Bay Marina and the Saint Lucia Tourist Board; Platinum sponsor is Digicel St. Lucia Limited; Gold sponsor are Heineken and the Wave; Silver sponsor is SOL EC Limited and Bronze sponsors are Chairman’s Reserve, Bay Walk Mall, Chrystal Clear, LUCELEC, Mega J’s, Columbian Emeralds, Rhythm FM and Rent A Ride.
For more information about the island of Saint Lucia visit http://stlucianow.ca, call 1-800-869-0377 or become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SaintLuciaTouristBoard.
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