The 25th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) started in spectacular style as 233 yachts from 26 nations sailed across the start line off Las Palmas de Gran Canaria heading for their final destination, 2,700 nautical miles away in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia.
The early morning rain and dark clouds cleared away, to be replaced by bright sunshine and the light NE wind filled to provide a reaching start. For the thousands of spectators ashore and afloat it was a picture perfect start to the 25th ARC. After crossing the start line in 8-10 knots and light swell, a colourful display of spinnakers were hoisted to help the yachts on their way. The forecast is for the light north easterlies to continue for the next few days.
Racing Yachts Start First
19 yachts competing in the IRC Racing Division, run under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), were first to start, crossing the line towards the south west. The start made for great viewing for spectators ashore, as the yachts passed between committee boat, Spanish naval ship Vancedora, and a laid mark inshore.
The racers made the most of the reaching conditions, and all flew spinnakers for the start. First across the line was Beneteau First 47.7, Alcor V (ITA), followed by Caro (GER), Marisja (NED), We Sail for the Whale (AUT) and Nibani (ITA).
Starting 10 minutes later were the larger boats competing in the 8 strong Invitation Racing Division, also under IRC, and the 6 yachts in the Open Divisions. The Invitation Racing and Open Divisions are for vessels longer than 18.3m (60 feet). Classic 1920s schooner Texel (GBR) crossed the line in stately fashion with multiple sails set, followed by Invitation Racing Division yachts Hagar II (ITA), Venonmous (GBR), Berenice (ITA), Fenix (GBR) and round-the-world veteran Steinlager II (GBR).
Cruising Fleet Make Spectacular Sight
At 1300, the cruising yachts, forming the majority of the fleet, created the now familiar ARC spectacle as 200 boats set off towards Saint Lucia. Almost every popular boatbuilder of the last 40 years is represented in the Cruising Division, including the smallest yacht in ARC 2010, Honningpupp II (NOR) a Comfort 32.
Catamaran First Across the Line
The Cruising Division made a conservative start, hanging back and ensuring each boat had room to manoeuvre. The first yacht to cross the line was catamaran Galop I (FRA), followed by Swan 55 Rita (GER) under spinnaker, Flying Swan (NED), Derbisolar (BEL), Mariposa (GBR) also under spinnaker.
Excitement and Emotion
There was an air of excitement and celebration throughout the marina this morning, as crowds of spectators waved off the fleet. The days of preparations, lists and decisions were finally over, and the crews were ready to do what they came to do; sail across the Atlantic.
The dock was full of well-wishers in carnival mode, cheering and dancing to the loud music blaring out in celebration from Don Pedro’s Texaco dock. Yachts were bid farewell from Las Palmas via loud speakers around the port and Banda Guayadra provided by the Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas (City Hall) marched around the marina serenading every pontoon to add to the festival atmosphere.
Before making their way to the start line the yachts passed through a ‘gate’ so each could be identified. To the delight of the thousands of spectators along the shore, some crews provided entertainment – a Mexican wave from Albatros (GER), bagpipes on Caduceus (GBR), and most popular of all, Croatian yacht Dora left the marina and passed through the ‘gate’ in reverse, while singing Croatian songs accompanied by guitars and maracas.