ARC Rally Begins
Over 300 crew began their Atlantic crossing after two weeks of preparation. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has provided a warm welcome for the international crews. Preparing for a long ocean crossing creates quite a jobs list and the support from the local businesses in the marina to get all the yachts shipshape and ready to sail away has been terrific. A series of online seminars, individual Safety Checks, and assistance with local information from the World Cruising Club team has helped support skippers preparations and this year there have been many returning sailors in the fleet to offer advice for those crossing an ocean for the first time.
Easterly winds blowing across Gran Canaria from the Sahara brought the ARC fleet hazy sunshine for departure day, with a light breeze of 8-10 knots carrying through the inshore starting area. A procession of yachts large and small, monohulls and multihulls, made their way out of Las Palmas Marina as crews stowed fenders and lines and began to prepare their sails ready for the start. Horns echoed as they waved goodbye to spectators, some adorned in matching crew shirts and special outfits to mark the occasion, and at 12:35 the countdown began to the first start sound for the Racing Division.
The Cruising and Multihull Divisions began their adventure at 13:00 with white sails set to glide through the line. The light winds gave a bit of a challenge for the skippers to navigate as they jostled to pass the Committee Boat and bid farewell to Gran Canaria. There were big smiles and cheers as they passed over the line to begin their ARC adventure.
From the ARC departure yesterday, the majority of boats will take 18-21 days to make the 2,700 nautical mile Atlantic crossing, arriving in Rodney Bay Marina, Saint Lucia.
Yesterday was the start of the 35th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. Despite the challenges of 2020, an impressive fleet sailed out of Gran Canaria heading for St Lucia.