Everyone's a winner as ARC rally wraps up for 2014

The 29th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) wrapped up for another year last night (20th December) with the traditional prize-giving party in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia. Over 1,000 ARC sailors, their friends and families celebrated the safe and successful Atlantic crossing by more than 220 boats. The spirit of the ARC is the spirit of camaraderie and adventure, which makes every one of the 1,250 ARC sailors a winner, not just those on stage to receive awards.

After a 20-hour delay to the scheduled start, caused by strong winds in Gran Canaria, ARC 2014 got off to a flying start for this trade wind classic.

Apart from a small trough of low-pressure that tested the navigators towards the beginning of the route, 2014 was more or less a classic trade wind passage, with steady following winds most of the way across the Atlantic.

“We saw more south-easterly winds than we had in the past,” mentioned one skipper, a four-time ARC sailor. “But otherwise, it was slow and steady; 19 days this year compared to 16 days in 2012. But this year we didn't even encounter a single squall, so I can't complain!”

“It was perfect,” added Sven of Efwa, the second-to-last yacht to finish just a day before the prizegiving. “Yes, it took us 25 days, but we were calm and having fun. We loved it!”

Flying Finns – ARC crossing record

Unprecedented in the 29 year history of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, the ARC course record was broken for a second consecutive year following ideal trade wind sailing. Leopard by Finland, knocked an impressive two days 6 hours off the record, sailing across the Atlantic from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia in a total of 8 days 14 hours, 39 minutes and 51 seconds. The Finnish-led transatlantic record attempt had been over a year in the planning.

One Rally – Two Routes

Leading the fleet across the pond were the 50 boats of ARC+ Cape Verde fleet, who had a bonus of 5 days in Mindelo on Sao Vicente to break up their Atlantic crossing.

Special Achievement Awards

In addition to the competitive prizes in the Racing and Cruising Divisions, some 40+ special prizes were awarded for a number of fun categories. For the second year, random awards were given to yachts, with 7th and 10th place finishers on corrected time in each class called to the stage to receive their special prize. Along similar lines, Matilda, finishing 78th in line honours and with a boat number of 78, received a special award for their luck in matching those numbers.

“Unless you're really clever, this one is next to impossible to plan for,” joked ARC organiser Andrew Bishop before congratulating the crew.

Thalassa received the Smallest Yacht award, Antares the Last to Arrive award and Evolution and Albatros shared the Closest Finish award for crossing the line within 32 seconds of one another.

Special prizes were awarded for web logs in several categories. The KAPRYS award for overcoming adversity at the start was awarded to Ross Applebey of Scarlet Oyster.

“Only 24-hours prior to the start, Scarlet Oyster was without a rudder,” explained Andrew Bishop. “Skipper Ross Applebey remained calm, despite a shipping snag that held up the replacement rudder en route to Las Palmas. They made the start line, and sailed the route faster than any other boat in the Racing Division on corrected time.”

The Most Beautiful Yacht is a notable award in that it's voted on by other ARC participants. Normally there is a clear winner receiving the majority of the votes, but this year was very close, with only 1 vote distinguishing the winner. That went to Leopard by Finland, the Farr 100 that smashed the course record.

The Philip Hitchcock Award for safety was given to the Finnish yacht Dyssel for their excellent preparation in Las Palmas, setting an example for ocean sailors everywhere.

During the crossing

“With the arrival of Antares on Friday evening, I can safely say that the 2014 ARC was notable for the lack of at-sea incidents,” said Andrew Bishop during the proceedings. “We'd like to give a special thanks to the few yachts that did offer assistance at sea, and thankfully it was only to transfer fuel.”

99 Bottles gave fuel to Sanuk, while Wiki transferred fuel to Ripples.

“It's a testament to all of your preparation, in following the advice provided in the rally handbook and in completing a safe passage across the Atlantic. This is what we strive for in the ARC, so a big round of applause for yourselves in completing that accomplishment.” said Andrew Bishop, praising the assembled crews.

Many Winners

After a brief intermission, when a steel pan band played and participants mingled over beer, rum punch and hors d'ouvres, Part 2 of the Prize Giving began with the playing of the Saint Lucian National Anthem, followed by remarks from distinguished guests, including Simon Bryan, General Manager of IGY Rodney Bay Marina and the Honourable Lorne Theophilus, Minister for Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries. For the first time ever, Sr Melchor Camon, President Patronato de Turismo de Gran Canaria was in attendance in Saint Lucia, flying over just for the occasion. He was invited on stage to welcome the sailors some 4 weeks after they had departed his home island.

Part 2 recognized the winners in each class. Despite their record run, Leopard by Finland, winners of IRC Racing Division Line Honours and Class A, were narrowly edged out by Scarlet Oyster for Overall Winner of the IRC Racing Division.

Philocat Ena and Blue Waves took the Multihull Class A and B respectively.

Class G, sponsored by SOL, was won by Little Pea (GBR). Class F, sponsored by SLASPA, was won by Defyr (FIN), who also won line honours for a female-skippered boat. Peter von Seestermühe (GER), the classic 1936 yawl who also won Oldest Boat, took Class E, sponsored by Gran Canaria. In Class D, the Saint Lucia Ministry of Tourism Class, the Italian yacht Bluetaste corrected 1st and took the award, presented by Lorne Theophilus. Class C, sponsored by IGY Rodney Bay Marina and presented by Simon Bryan, was won by Hiera (ITA). Class B, sponsored by the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, was won by Arietta 4.2 (ITA). Finally, Class A, the Prime Ministers Class, much to their surprise was won by the Norwegian yacht CoCo.

Peter von Seestermühe took away the biggest prize in the Cruising Division, correcting on top overall and taking home the Jimmy Cornell Trophy.

The last two special prizes were awarded. Thalassa, also the smallest boat in the fleet, was awarded the ARCH Marez Trophy for their contributions to shoreside activities, recognizing the late Marez' contributions to the success of the ARC. It was his decision to expand Rodney Bay Marina in the early days of the event to accommodate the growing fleet.

Finally, the evening ended on an emotional note with the Spirit of the ARC award. With thankfully no incidents occurring at sea that required the emergency assistance of another yacht, this year's Spirit trophy was given to the yacht and crew that best exemplified the feeling of camaraderie and positivity the ARC team tries so hard to create. 2014's Spirit of the ARC went to the crew of Take Off.

Despite having small children on board, they sailed hard and fast. On their arrival in Saint Lucia, they greeted each new arrival with the same enthusiasm, day or night, and on many occasions asked ARC staff to wake them in the pre-dawn hours to welcome a fellow sailor.

In tears, skipper Jorgen Wennberg and his family accepted the award. Jorgen then offered an impromptu speech, asking that Andrew Bishop and all of the Yellowshirt team take the stage to be recognized for their hard work in making the ARC such a successful event. Andrew and his team were offered a standing ovation, and with that, the evening came to a close.

With the conclusion of ARC 2014, the focus now shifts on next year, which of course marks a major milestone for the rally. 2015 will be the 30th running of the ARC, which started way back in 1986. The boats and technology has certainly changed dramatically, but the ocean and skills needed to cross it safely have not. The 30th ARC planning is already underway with special events, prizes and details in the works.

– World Cruising Club

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