ARC+ Cape Verde sets sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

The second edition ARC+ Cape Verde set sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria today, Sunday 9 November, bound for Mindelo in the Cape Verde Islands. A brisk northerly wind provided near perfect sailing, with just a one metre swell making it a little rock and roll for some. The 51 boat fleet are set to enjoy some textbook tradewind sailing for the first part of their Atlantic crossing.
The ARC+ route option is part of the 2014 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers and was introduced for the first time last year to give sailors in the world's most popular transocean rally a choice of routes across the Atlantic. ARC+ sees the fleet sail to the Cape Verdes, and following the 3-5 day stopover in Mindelo, the yachts will re-group and head off across the Atlantic on 19 November bound for Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia.
This year there are boats registered from 22 countries around the globe including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, UK, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the USA. Crew on board represent 26 different nationalities and are aged from 8 months to 84 years old. In fact, for the first time, the oldest and youngest participants are sailing on the same yacht, Makena (USA).
There are 9 children under the age of 16 as well as four-legged crew members Perkan the dog on Filizi (GRE) and Boris the cat on Lily (GBR). Regular ARC mascot “Ed the Iguana” will visit the Cape Verdes for the first time and make his annual ocean crossing with the crew of Delphia (NED).
During their time in Las Palmas, crews have enjoyed a pre-departure programme of seminars, safety inspections and social functions. The camaraderie and friendships that has developed between ARC+ sailors was evident today as they slipped their lines to head to the start line and waved their goodbyes to their fellow ralliers.
First boats to cross the start line
Always eager and back for a second year David Smith's Voyage 440 Easy Rider 2 (GBR) was early on the start line. Purr-fect (USA) a Lagoon 380 sailed by David and Linda Witham, lived up to her name with a start that was just that as she sailed over the line closely followed by Makena (USA), Babsea (AUT) and Wipaca (CUB). A total of 12 catamarans make up the Multihull Division of ARC+.

Conditions were rather more rock and roll for the monohulls, with a 1m swell pushed up by an 18 knot northerly breeze making it a little uncomfortable for some crews as they approached the start line. Apollon (CZE) triumphed and crossed the line first, followed closely by Hallberg Rassy 35 Shira (NED) and Dagmar and Jens Garlin on their XP-44 GarliX (GER).

The fleet is are now on their way to Mindelo, 865NM to the southwest of Gran Canaria. The weather forecast suggests moderate north-easterly trade winds for the passage enabling the boats to make good mileage, and we hope to be welcoming the majority of the fleet into Mindelo over Friday 14 and Saturday 15 November.

Although Nauticat 521 Apollon (CZE) took the start with the fleet today, they returned to Muelle Deportivo due to some technical problems. The crew are hoping to restart on Monday and reach Mindelo to join the second leg of the voyage.

The latest YB Tracking Satellite trackers have been fitted on board each boat, allowing family and friends to follow the fleet from the comfort of their own home via the online Fleet Viewer. Boats can also send blogs and photos, posted on to the rally website to share life on board.

A busy schedule begins for the ARC fleet
As the ARC+ fleet left today, the pre-departure programme has only just begun for the crews of the ARC fleet sailing directly to Saint Lucia on 23 November. After a spectacular welcome party hosted by the Las Palmas City Council on Friday night, crews have spent the weekend exploring Las Palmas, and many headed out to wave off the ARC+ fleet.

Before their own start two weeks from today, ARC Crews can look forward to a full programme of preparation seminars and social activities. Safety inspections are already underway and during the next two weeks, there are seminars run daily covering useful topics for ocean sailing including provisioning, communications, weather and sailing techniques. Fully preparing crews for the voyage is an important part of the ARC programme in Las Palmas and the experienced team of 'yellow-shirts' from World Cruising Club provide invaluable advice to help participants prepare for their own start day
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