The inaugural edition of ARC+ St. Vincent set sail today from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria marking the second wave of boats in the 2018 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers to begin their Atlantic adventure. They now are on their way to Mindelo Marina, Cape Verde, approximately 850nm south of Gran Canaria. Whilst the number of boats in the ARC+ St. Vincent fleet is the smallest of the three routes, the types of boats and experiences of crews are just as diverse, representing 12 different nationalities and sailors from all walks of life. Heading out today were ocean sailing veterans with many miles of experience and new adventurers heading offshore, all eager to begin the first leg of their two stage crossing.
With the start scheduled for 13:00 for all divisions, not even a passing rain squall could dampen the spirits of the crews on board the ARC+ St. Vincent boats. Just in time, possibly with some intervention from Saint Vincent, patron saint of sailors, the squall passed, the sun came out and a light north-westerly breeze filled in. In true rally spirit none of the boats were early on the start line, and it was some minutes after the starting signal was given from the start boat, the Guardia Civil patrol boat Rio Tambre, that the first boats crossed the line. BellaRose, the American flagged Halberg-Rassy 48, came through the line first, making use of their ample fuel supply to motor with no sails up! Close by, and first sailboat across were the Canadians of Dobro Dani, the Elan 434 Impression.
The light conditions made for an easy start, with Tonia and Tortola 2.0 hosting their light airs reaching gennekers. Forecasted wind for today and during their first night at sea, is staying light as the boats head south along the coast of Gran Canaria. More favourable trade winds are expected around Saturday when the boats will be some 200nm south and well on their way to Mindelo in Cape Verde, with the first arrivals likely on Tuesday.
2018 is the first edition of ARC+ St. Vincent and following the 3-5 day stopover in Mindelo, the yachts will re-group and head off across the Atlantic on 25 November bound for Blue Lagoon Marina in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This new route choice has added extra capacity to meet the growing demand of cruisers wanting to join the rally and has appealed to sailors keen to break the ocean crossing to explore the Cape Verde Islands for a few days before their onward crossing to the Caribbean.
Whilst in Las Palmas, crews have enjoyed a varied programme of events, sharing functions with crews on the other ARC routes, and also bonding together over their shared final destination of St. Vincent to become a close family of boats pioneering the new route. Before departure, the crew of Josefine from Denmark left their mark on the rocks of Las Palmas Marina with a painting of their crew emblem. Other crews praised the staff from the marina and local support companies, who have all contributed to a pleasant stay, and successful preparations before they set sail today.
The rally buzz continues in Gran Canaria
Meanwhile, for the crews still in Las Palmas gathering for the final wave of ARC 2018, the route directly from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia, the busy pre-departure programme is well underway. During the next ten days, ARC Crews can look forward to preparation seminars and social activities with the rally spirit set to continue to buzz around the docks as the build-up continues towards the final start day. On Sunday 18 November, the international flavour of the ARC will be celebrated at the Opening Ceremony with crews parading around the marina with flags of the many nations taking part. With over 1000 sailors, supported by many friends and family, it is always a colourful spectacle.