“Marvellous; downwind all the way with the spinnaker,” said Jean-Pierre 'JP' Dick, owner and skipper of The Kid, the first boat to arrive in Saint Lucia on the direct ARC route from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
The JP54 surfed across the Atlantic in just over 11 days to cross the line in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia, at 12:52 hours local time on Thursday 6 December, giving her an elapsed time of 11d 4h 7m and 49s and sailing 3254.5 nautical miles.
The six strong crew – five men and one woman – were in great spirits as they arrived dockside in Rodney Bay Marina and toasted their ARC line honours success – with ice cold Saint Lucian rum punch.
“We had the spinnaker up all the way; it was great fun,” enthused crew member David Hoey, originally from Ireland and the only non-French member of the crew.
He explained some of the challenges of the trip, “We hit a top speed of 25 knots and had to be very careful to keep control of the boat all of the time as the spinnaker is so big.”
Conditions for the ARC this year have been excellent, with consistent trade winds for almost the entire course. “Our lowest winds were around 16-17 knots – and only in the last couple of days.” Hoey said.
At the official welcome ceremony hosted by the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, skipper JP said how much the ARC line honours meant to him, having sailed the course in a boat he designed himself. The boat is very much a child of the IMOCA class, hence its name – The Kid.
“I wanted to bring all my years of experience into the design of a boat that could be a fast race boat, but within 20 minutes be set up as a family cruiser,” JP. explained. The design – a JP54 – encompasses the lessons of JP's career as a solo sailor in some of the world's toughest single-handed races. To prove his concept further, he will be cruising the Caribbean over Christmas with his family.
The Kid is the first of 170 boats arriving on the ARC direct route, with the next closest boat, super yacht G2, arriving around 14 hours behind the leader. Most boats crossing this year are carrying crews of adventurous cruising sailors rather than round-the-world professionals and will take between 16 and 21 days to make the passage to Saint Lucia. Optimum conditions are making for a fast crossing with all boats expected to arrive before Christmas.
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