Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia, 20 December 2020
It has been a very special ARC this year, smaller in numbers, but not diminished in spirit. The determination and camaraderie of all those involved, the sailors, supporters, hosts and helpers has combined to make this a unique year. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the ARC has safely brought over 80 yachts on two different routes across the Atlantic to begin their Caribbean season.
On Saturday 19th December on the docks of IGY Rodney Bay Marina, ARC 2020 came to a resounding conclusion with the prize-giving ceremony to mark the end of an unforgettable edition of the annual transatlantic cruising rally. For over 300 crew who have now checked the bucket-list task of sailing an ocean, and the team of staff and supporters who have dedicate months to planning a Covid-secure event, it was an emotional evening to celebrate the achievement of the 35th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers coming to an end.
ARC 2020 has been a rally like no other; it has taken months of planning for the rally to reach Saint Lucia’s shores. Assembling in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a diverse fleet of 56 yachts representing nations from around the world came together to form a unique ocean crossing community. The challenge of preparing for a safe long-distance passage as the Covid-19 pandemic continued was undertaken well by the determined crews, following protocols and advice as start day on the 22nd November approached. An adapted programme organised by World Cruising Club assisted their preparations, and all crew were tested prior to departure. Feeling well-equipped and with peace of mind, the ARC fleet set sail for their 2,700nm crossing with an extra-special sense of achievement.
With Gran Canaria in their wake, there was some serious sailing to be done. Early on in the passage, the weather looked set to deliver full-force Atlantic trade winds along the entire route. In fact, some of the faster racing monos and catamarans where able to scream across in fast times. For the more traditional boats of the cruising fleet, the trade winds abated later on into the passage, giving calmer and easier sailing for the majority of the fleet. Whilst slowing their progress, the gentle pace of the latter part of the route has meant very few breakages or incidents, giving a trouble-free crossing for almost all boats.
This year the prize-giving ceremony was delivered to the fleet from on board Go Tango, a 75ft catamaran, positioned at the end of D pontoon while crews enjoyed the evening’s entertainment from their own boats. MC and local Radio Presenter, Masana Morrison, opened the much awaited celebration welcoming everyone and introduced Andrew Pickersgill, the World Cruising Club host for the evening. Andrew Bishop, Managing Director of World Cruising Club was unable to attend this year but sent a message of congratulations and thanks to all the fleet, sponsors and organisers of the rally. He said, “Tonight is your chance to celebrate your achievements….I am sorry I cannot be with you but I have been closely following you and what you have been up to and enjoyed reading your blogs and learning about your stories of the crossing and have been with you in spirit if not in person.”
ARC 2020 saw several regulars return with JP Dick on Vitale The Kid (FRA) taking Line Honours and being crowned winner on corrected time for Division 2 - IRC Racing. The first arrival and winner of Division 4 - Multihull was the Marsaudon TS42, Banzaï (BEL); Line Honours for Division 1 - Cruising with no motoring hours, and the best family performance, was awarded to Pogo 12.5 Rush (GBR) and winning the Yachting World Line Honours Trophy (including engine hours) was Blue Magic (SWE).
Awarded the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority Trophy for Cruising Class B and Overall Winner of the Cruising Division was Peter von Seestermuhe (GER), another familiar face to the ARC who sails the Atlantic crossing with the rally every two years. RM 13.7 Khelios (FRA) was presented with the Prime Ministers' Trophy for the winner of Cruising Class A. Click here for the ARC 2020 Results
Special awards were also given to the six yachts sailed by a double-handed crew, and the SSB Net Controllers who have been at the heart of the ocean crossing community by running the daily radio net. This year young crews in the ARC included 20 children aged from 4 to 14 years from 7 different countries completing the Atlantic crossing. They all had a fabulous evening dancing on the pontoons and gained great applause when they came up to the stage to get their gifts.
Over the past six weeks the World Cruising Club website has seen over one hundred and fifty thousand unique visitors, reading the latest news and blogs sent in from the fleet while at sea. The award for best non-English Log was won by Suffisant (SUI). They say 'a picture paints a thousand words' and the Best Photos Sent From Sea was won by family boat Blown Away (GBR) for their stunning atmospheric ocean images. For their hilarious daily logs, the creative crew of Moonflower 3 (HRV) were presented with the Best Overall Logs prize.
The evening included many other awards, entertainment and speeches from the Minister of Tourism, Dominic Fedee and the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, The Hon Allen Chastanet. To conclude the evening, the award for "Spirit of the ARC" was presented. This award acknowledges the selfless commitment given by a crew to fellow participants not just for a specific action or event but for their unwavering desire to participate fully in each event and go that extra mile to include and help others whether it is offering hands-on advice and assistance with a repair or hosting individuals at a prize-giving. This year’s Spirit of the ARC was awarded to Bones and Anna Black on Emily Morgan (GBR).
With the conclusion of ARC 2020, the focus now shifts to next year with a bumper rally anticipated. Already a sell-out, over 300 yachts will cross the Atlantic under the ARC banner in 2021 on the route options sailing via Cape Verde as part of ARC+, or on the traditional ARC direct route from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia.