As the sun set in Saint Lucia on Wednesday December 6, crews of ARC+ 2017 came together to mark the end of a wonderful ocean adventure with a special prize giving ceremony held at Pigeon Island National Park.
The experience of crossing an ocean is one that few ARC+ participants will ever forget, and the focus of the evening’s festivities was not only the achievement of those who placed well in their respective classes, but everyone who shared in the spirit of the ARC+ adventure in 2017.
Their journey began some six weeks ago in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria where the crews of yachts from 21 different nations assembled and a special community has developed ever since. The pre-departure program brought together the fleet for seminars, safety demonstrations and final preparations before setting off on Sunday 5th November.
The rally sailed first to Mindelo, Cape Verde, filling the marina with a special buzz as continual arrivals greeted one another with great enthusiasm following the 850nm passage. The passage took between five and seven days for the fleet, and along the way they enjoyed plenty of special ocean sailing moments of starry nights, playful dolphins, fishing triumphs and riding the rolling waves, as the miles to Mindelo counted down.
Putting the ‘plus’ in the ARC+ name, the stopover included days ashore to explore the delights of Mindelo town, including markets and local handmade crafts. Organised tours to the neighboring island of Santo Antao, the largest of the Cape Verde Barlavento islands, saw participants guided around the
mountainous volcanic landscape and a visit to SOS Aldeias Children’s Home, gave an opportunity to meet local children who are being supported through poverty and difficult situations by the charity.
All too soon for some, it was time for the ARC+ fleet to continue across the Atlantic Ocean on to their Caribbean destination of Saint Lucia. The start of Leg 2 provided “a brilliant afternoon and the perfect way to begin two weeks of blue water rally cruising,” said Holly from on board Hummingbird, as the fleet were whisked away from Mindelo with spinnakers flying.
Already in the trade wind belt, the ARC+ fleet enjoyed favorable, if a little light, winds to help tick down the nautical miles to Saint Lucia. As a cruising rally, use of engines is permitted and motoring hours are provided by the skipper to be factored into the fun results calculated before the prize giving. Declared hours ranged between 0 and almost 200 – showing a wide variation of cruising styles in the fleet. Many took advantage of the calm conditions by fishing, writing blogs for family and friends, and taking a mid-Atlantic swim during their time at sea.