Gran Canaria bid farewell today to the ARC January fleet for the second edition of the ‘new year rally’ organised by World Cruising Club. Following the first edition in 2022, ARC January 2023 has seen 30 boats gathering to cross the Atlantic, heading for Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia. The boats set sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria today, Sunday 15th January with two starts, the Multihulls departed first at 12:45UTC with the Cruising class following at 13:00UTC. There was much excitement this morning as after months of preparations the boats and crews finally embarked on their 2,700nm journey to the Caribbean.
The smallest yacht crossing with ARC January this year is Middle Island, a Westerly Storm 33 while the largest yacht is Finiens, a Hanse 675. It was a beautiful day in Las Palmas and the skyline was dotted with white sails as the fleet made their way to the starting area. On board, crews from 16 nations were eager to get going. Spirits were high on the pontoons this morning, as the last checks were made and excitement for the start was in the air with the sailors eager to get going on their journeys and paraded out of Las Palmas Marina.
Ahead of the start, the sailors have enjoyed their time in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with the port city providing a warm welcome and a fun place to see in the New Year. Preparing for a long ocean crossing invariably requires a long list of jobs and the local businesses in the marina have supported the yachts ensuring they are shipshape and ready to sail. The programme in Las Palmas has included a series of seminars to assist with the planning for the crossing and every boat has had an individual Safety Inspection from the World Cruising Club team to help support skippers’ preparations. The fun social side of the rally, including a visit to the ARC forest, sundowners and parties, has developed a great feeling of camaraderie amongst the departing crews.
It was a spectacular sight out on the water as the fleet readied to cross the line with a meter-high swell and calm breeze welcoming them to the ocean. The first countdown began from onboard the Committee Vessel for the Multihull Division as a steady wind of 15 knots blew from North-East. Leading the fleet of 12 multihulls, Austrian boat Pantiki, a Lagoon 380 was first across the start line skippered by Albert Pucher, one of two double-handers in the rally. Chee Hoo, a USA-flagged Neel 47, one of the two trimarans in the fleet, was next across the line followed by Te Reva, a French Outremer 45.
The Cruising Division followed fifteen minutes later, featuring 18 yachts at today’s start. First over the line was Finiens, a Hanse 675 and the largest boat in the fleet at 21.1 meters. Cohiba, a UK-flagged Bluewater 476, was second over the line, followed by Another Brick, a Beneteau First 44.7.
The yachts and crews will now adapt to life at sea with quite a change of pace from the pre-departure rush. As the boats get south of Gran Canaria they should pick up some stronger North Easterly trade winds, a lovely start to their ocean crossing. There will doubtless be plenty of discussions onboard the yachts throughout the crossing as each crew decides the route they will take to get the best winds. The classic route of sailing south towards the Cape Verde Islands before heading for the Caribbean is sure to be popular. Their progress can be followed on the YB Races App and Fleet Viewer page of the World Cruising Club website.
From the ARC January 2023 departure today, the majority of boats will take 18-21 days to make the 2,700 nautical mile Atlantic crossing, arriving in Rodney Bay Marina, Saint Lucia at the end of January. An exciting arrival programme is planned with each boat being met in Saint Lucia by the yellow shirt team with some rum punch and local fruit and a wonderful welcoming atmosphere in IGY Rodney Bay Marina.