The World Cruising Club’s two-stage trans-Atlantic rally to Grenada set sail November 6 from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, bound for Mindelo, Cabo Verde. Light winds escorted the 90 boats offshore, where they made their turns southwest for the 865-nautical-mile passage to Mindelo. The northeasterly trades are expected to build through the passage, and the majority of the fleet is expected to arrive over the weekend.
This is the first leg of the 2022 ARC Plus, one of three east-to-west, trans-Atlantic routes organized by World Cruising Club under the ARC banner. After a four- to six-day stopover in Mindelo, São Vicente, the ARC Plus fleet will make the 2,150-nautical-mile crossing with a final landfall at Port Louis Marina in Grenada. The ARC, which takes a 2,700-nautical-mile direct route from Gran Canaria to St. Lucia, departs November 20, while the ARC January is scheduled for an early January 2023 departure.
More than 400 crew are taking part in this year’s ARC Plus rally, across a fleet of 69 monohulls, 20 multihulls and one motoryacht. This is the largest and most diverse fleet leaving Las Palmas since the event began in 2013. Great Britain-flagged Ciel Bleu, a Fountaine Pajot Maldives 32, measures in as the smallest boat, while the Oyster 675 Alika is the largest.
The rally’s competitive multihull division was first off the docks Sunday along Gran Canaria’s northeast coast. Balance3, a Finnish-registered Lagoon 42 skippered by Pasi Heiskanen with his family on board, was first over the line, followed by Indrek Prants’ Lagoon 50 Sirocco, another family boat. American-registered Hanuman, a Catana 53 skippered by Steve May, crossed third. French-registered Piment Rouge, Pierre De Saint-Vincent’s Outremer 51, hugged the Aduanas patrol vessel Condor, used by rally control for the start, to get the offshore edge out of the harbor and was soon leading the fleet south.
The 70 sailboats in the Cruising Class and Open divisions followed the multis out of the harbor, with all-Italian crew on the Azuree 46 Enalia, skippered by Alberto Rizzotti, leading the way, followed by Richard Hill’s British-registered Mazi 1300 Kirima. The cruiser-racer Mylius 60 Fra Diavolo with Vincenzo Addessi and crew showed its regatta-racing pedigree and crossed the line third.
Preparations have been ongoing at Las Palmas Marina since late October, including seminars on weather and emergency training for offshore sailing.
“With seminars on weather routing under our belt, and a smattering of celestial navigation, as well as important pointers on rigging and provisioning, it has been so worthwhile being part of the ARC Plus,” said South Africans Darrol and Kathy Martin on Disa, a 1988 Amel Mango. “We’re filled with excitement and trepidation, and have been saying goodbye to the friends we’ve made on Pontoon K. We cannot wait to have the wind in our sails and be heading south to Cape Verde in our beautiful old boat, Disa.”
Celebrating its 10th edition this year, the two-stage Atlantic crossing has once again proved popular with families. Thirty-six children are sailing on 18 boats; the youngest sailor is 3-year-old Herman Habenicht on Swedish-flagged Ballerina. The youngest skipper, 25-year-old Ronja Dörnfeld, is one of four female skippers joining this year’s ARC Plus.
Pre-departure programs have begun for the crews of the ARC fleet sailing directly to St. Lucia on November 20.
World Cruising Club, based in Cowes, UK, organizes a portfolio of international sailing rallies for cruising yachts in Europe, the United States, and around the world. WCC’s ARC rally has taken place every year since 1986.