The official kick off for the annual Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) is this Sunday November 24 in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, when the fleet will set sail for Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia. Las Palmas has been the start port for the ARC since the very first rally in 1986, and to mark the event, this Sunday the Saint Lucia tourist board along with the IGY Rodney Bay Marina will be hosting the annual flotilla from the Castries waterfront to Rodney Bay.
At midday on Sunday November 17, hundreds of ARC participants took part in the Official Opening Ceremony for ARC 2013. Flag bearers representing Gran Canaria, Spain, Saint Lucia, the European Union and 22 of the main nationalities in the ARC fleet paraded behind the Banda Gran Canaria, with the Banda H Mencey beating a salsa rhythm at the back. The grand parade had a real festival atmosphere as participants young and old waved flags and cheered.
Andrew Bishop, Managing Director of World Cruising Club declared ARC 2013 officially “open” and the country flags were proudly hoisted on flagpoles around the marina as the band struck up once again and fireworks were launched in celebration.
The fiesta atmosphere continued with ARC participants and local people taking part in Don Pedro’s Dinghy Race around the marina. Coming out of retirement to host the race, Don Pedro is a long time supporter of the ARC and used to manage the fuel dock in the Marina. The race across the marina encourages crews, dressed in a variety of fancy dress costumes, to use any tactics they like to outwit their opponents.
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 ARC+ fleet that departed Las Palmas a week ago have enjoyed favourable downwind sailing conditions to reach their stopover in Mindelo Marina in the Cape Verdes. They have a few days to explore the islands before they head off across the Atlantic bound for Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia.
The ARC entry list stands at 226 boats, the majority of which are family cruisers, sailed by family and friends on the adventure of a lifetime. Multihulls are again popular, with 22 booked for the crossing.
This Sunday thousands of spectators are expected to line the city shore of Las Palmas to watch the boats start. The first start gun will sound at 1230 for the Multihulls, followed by the Racing Divisions at 1245 and the Cruising Divisions at 1300.
ARC boats will make landfall in IGY Rodney Bay Marina, Saint Lucia after sailing 270 nautical miles. This distance will take the fastest boats around 12 days, and the family cruisers 18 to 21 days.
The final festivity of ARC 2013 is the awards ceremony on December 21, which rewards the fastest boats and special categories like ‘Spirit of the ARC’.
A number of activities are also planned for the IGY Rodney Bay Marina during the month of December as part of the celebration of the ARC.