For sailors on the ARC+ route of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, last night's prize-giving ceremony in Saint Lucia marked the end of their Atlantic adventure that began in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the eastern side of the Atlantic six weeks ago. The second edition of this alternative route to the traditional ARC route saw 50 yachts and over 200 crew enjoy the same great activity programme before and after their ARC crossing, but also an interesting and enjoyable stopover on São Vicente, one of the less visited of the Cape Verde islands.
Crews were full of praise for ARC+, now an integral part of the annual Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. “ARC+ has been a fabulous adventure. We have enjoyed every minute. The group has developed really well and I feel I know almost all the other crews. The stop in Mindelo really helped us to get to know one another and I found the islands of São Vicente and Santo Antão to be really special” said Marian Borde from the Starlight 39 Exody. “We will go on to circumnavigate with World ARC and the visit to Cape Verde is exactly what we were always looking for.“
The ambience at the prize-giving reflected the convivial nature of ARC+. Held beachside at The Mistral Bar at The Royal by Rex Resorts, the venue was perfect size to accommodate all the crews and their guests and provided a really involved atmosphere between the audience and the prize winners. The sound of steel pan music welcomed the sailors in through the door and quickly got them in Caribbean partying mood.
Those visiting the stage to collect their prizes included Marita and Rune Lindberg and the Swedish crew from the Hallberg Rassy 37 Shira, who managed first in Class C on corrected time, and first overall in the monohull Cruising Division. And it was not just crews who were successful in the competitive side of the Rally who received prizes. As it is traditional in the ARC too, they were as many other prizes given out for other happenings at sea, successes and achievements as well as recognising the families and double-handed crews who took part.
2014 is the second year that World Cruising Club has delivered the ARC+ route and it was interesting that this year the places on the cruise reached capacity before long established direct ARC. The two routes offer variations on the same theme of promoting more sociable and safer sailing, and both appeal to a broad range of cruisers. “This year, I've sailed with my father on ARC+” said Daniel Frintrop from the German family boat LaVida. “Next year I want to return with my own boat, but Dad and I are still debating: I want to return to do the ARC but my father wants to do the ARC+ again!” as Henry, his father listened and smiled beside him.
The final prize-giving, whilst marking the official close of the rally, is not quite the last party, as this morning the majority of the ARC+ fleet and their crews have set sail from the IGY Rodney Bay Marina to head a few miles south to the Capella Marina at Marigot Bay. Here there is one final opportunity to socialise before crews start to disperse to explore the Caribbean or further afield. But it has been clear during the last few days of arrivals that friendships will continue and paths are sure to to cross again.