Thirty-one boats in the World ARC fleet departed Rodney Bay Marina in Saint Lucia on Saturday 11 January, at the start of an epic 26,000 mile adventure around the world in 15 months. World ARC is a circumnavigation rally for cruising boats, with a mix of organized stages and free cruising.
The preparations program in Saint Lucia before the start has ensured crews were prepared and excited for their adventure. “The crews have had a busy but enjoyable program in Saint Lucia,” said World ARC Event Manager Paul Tetlow, “They represent different nationalities, ages, motivations, and crew dynamics and so, in between the serious preparations such as safety checks, seminars and briefings, this week has been about getting to know new cruising friends, who’ll be together for the many months ahead. The start from Rodney Bay was a spectacular end to that program.”
On the start line, there was bright sunshine mixed with a few squally conditions, making for an exhilarating start. 18-25 knots of wind from the East-North-East provided perfect conditions for a fast broad reach down the North West coast of the island to Castries. As first leg of this circumnavigation event got underway, supporters, friends and family came out to cheer the fleet across the line from their tenders including many previous ARC and World ARC participants.
The first yacht across the start line was one of the smallest boats in the fleet, the British flagged Firefly owned by Paul Ellis. This 42ft Humphries Yachting designed boat was once owned by Yachting World Editor Andrew Bray who sailed the ARC in 2001. Firefly glided effortlessly down the coastline before heading West once passed the turning marker off Castries.
Second across the line was the Discovery 55 Hebe (GBR) sailed by Andrew and Jane Lax followed by the X-612 CHIKA-lu (GER) owned by Hubert Hirschfeld. The remainder of the fleet followed in close succession creating an excellent display. Joining them out on the water, committee vessels carried local and international press, as well as local dignitaries and supporting family and friends creating a fitting atmosphere for their departure.
The boats have 1100 miles ahead of them before exploring the San Blas islands of Panama, where another nine boats will join World ARC.
World ARC Route: Classic Tradewind Sailing
The 40-strong fleet will then transit the Panama Canal before setting off across the Pacific for Australia stopping at some of the most idyllic Pacific islands en route, including Galapagos, Hiva Oa, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Niue, Vava’u, Fiji and Vanuatu.
Some boats will leave the rally in Australia, with more joining for the restart of the second half of the adventure from Darwin in September 2014. Avoiding the troubled areas of the Indian Ocean, the World ARC route takes in Bali, Cocos Keeling, Mauritius and Reunion before enjoying Christmas and New Year in South Africa. From Cape Town the boats will visit St Helena, before enjoying carnival in Brazil and then heading back into the Caribbean via Grenada to finish in Saint Lucia in April 2015.
World ARC Fleet
In total 43 boats and over 300 people will take part in World ARC 2014-15; some sailing the full 26,000 miles, others joining for a stage. The largest boat is 19.60m Amel 64 Tulasi (GBR), and the smallest is 10.66m Manta 40_ Free & BrEasy_ (CAN). The fleet includes six catamarans, three of which started in Saint Lucia. The oldest boat is the beautiful Swan 51 Alpheratz (USA) built in 1982 whilst the newest is the brand-new Lagoon 620′ NDS Darwin (ARG) which came out of the shipyard in June 2013. A varied fleet as ever but these differences will lose relevance over time as all crews get to know one another better and all live through this experience together.
World ARC is an international event, with boats sailing under the flags of 13 nations, and crews coming from more than 20 countries. Ten children aged under 18 are sailing in World ARC, and the crews are a mix of families, people taking a couple of years away from work, honeymooners and those who have sold businesses or taken early retirement.
Join the Fun!
It is still possible for boats to join the World ARC fleet in Australia in late August 2014 for the Indian Ocean crossing to South Africa, and onwards to the Caribbean. This route keeps well away from areas of pirate activity, and allows the participants to enjoy experiences as diverse as the remote atoll of Cocos Keeling and the great animals of South Africa.
For the first time, World ARC is now an annual event organised in consecutive years and so far 24 yachts are set to join the next edition of the rally. There’s also the new route choice of a southern “cold water route” taking on the adventure of cruising the Chilean canals and rounding the southern tip of South America.
Route: The fleet will transit the Panama Canal before exploring the Pacific islands of the Galapagos, Marquesas, Society Islands, Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu en route to Queensland Australia. After cruising up the Great Barrier Reef, the rally will visit Bali, then cross the southern Indian Ocean, stopping at Cocos, Mauritius and Reunion before stopping in South Africa for Christmas and New Year. In January they will depart across the Atlantic to Brazil, with a stopover in St Helena. Cruising up the Brazilian coast for carnival, then heading to Grenada in the Caribbean before finishing in Saint Lucia in April 2015. The route avoids the northern Indian Ocean, Red Sea and other areas of pirate activity. Full route information is available here.
Eligibility: Monohull and catamaran sailboats between 40′-60′ (12.19m to 18.29m) LOA are welcome to join the rally. Other boats will be considered on individual merit. World ARC is a fun rally for cruising yachts. Participants will come from a wide range of backgrounds, nationalities and age ranges.