A spectacular sight as the 2016 fleet set off for Saint Lucia. Credit: James Mitchell/WCC
This year’s trans-Atlantic rally from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria to the Caribbean island of St Lucia is underway. In total almost 300 yachts from 28 countries, crewed by 1,600 people, will make a 2,700-mile Atlantic crossing in the 32nd edition of the event.
A common criticism of the ARC is that it has increasingly been taken over by large yachts, at the expense of those of more ordinary means. This might appear to be confirmed by the largest yachts on the entry list, which includes Giorgio Benussi’s stunning custom built Baltic 130 My Song, plus Bob Eichler’s 100ft Sparkman and Stephens sloop Altair, plus a host of other yachts above 70ft, more than half of them Oysters and Swans. However, a look at the other end of the list tells a different story – the smallest boat is just 30ft (Pierre-Yves Luxey’s Pogo 30 Avel Biz). Among the boats under 35ft there’s also a 1980s Sigma 33 (Edward Clay’s Wam Bam), a Bavaria 32 (Jarmo Koskivuori’s Aava), plus four Hallberg Rassys, while the oldest boat looks to be Grant Jamieson-Hesk’s classic wooden 9-ton Hillyard Trimley Maid.
This year there will be almost 50 multihulls taking part. Credit: James Mitchell/WCC
There were two departures from Las Palmas, the first on November 5 for the smaller fleet sailing in the ARC+ that routes via Sao Vicente in the Cape Verde islands. The second, November 19 for the main fleet, sailing directly to St Lucia. The ARC+ fleet is expected to arrive between November 26-31, while the bulk of the main fleet is expected to finish between December 6-11.
Whatever time of day or night they arrive, each boat is welcomed to Rodney Bay Marina at the finish with rum punches, fresh fruit and chilled beer. Many boats then remain in St Lucia for Christmas, enjoying the beautiful island and famed local hospitality, before continuing on to explore the rest of the Caribbean. In many cases they form small groups in which to cruise in company, and often meet up with friends made on the ARC area’s many anchorages. The event is routinely oversubscribed, but entries for ARC 2018 are now open.