As the year winds down, there are a few last events capping off the season, including this autumn’s Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), the first finishers of which have begun to trickle in to Saint Lucia. This is the 38th edition of the rally which has run annually since 1986. This year’s edition saw 156 yachts departing Gran Canaria on November 19 bound for the Caribbean.
This year’s fleet contained the largest ever contingent of multihulls, totaling 43 and making up nearly a third of the fleet. “It is a beautiful thing to cross the Atlantic this way with the ARC. It is more pleasurable,” says Vincent Henry, crew of one of them, the Outremer 51 Piment Rouge. In combination with the monohull cruisers and a racing division, the multihull division brings the event back to pre-pandemic engagement numbers.
The 900 ARC sailors hailed from 39 countries, ranging in age from one year to almost 90, and including families, charter crews, friends, and ocean hitchhikers. For the ARC’s oldest sailor, 89-year-old Joff Hutchinson this was an unmissable event: “I’ve been sailing for 82 years and have always wanted to cross the Atlantic. Now my sons have retired, there’s no better time.”
The rally’s official dock out was preceded by two weeks of seminars, socializing, and safety inspections. These on-shore elements ensuring each crew is well equipped to do the crossing make the ARC a cruiser’s favorite year after year. As Remi Palandri, owner of the Hallberg-Rassy Serenity, noted, “We’re doing our first transatlantic, and it was better to do it with the safety structure of the ARC.”
The start was marked with gorgeous conditions of 8-10 knots of breeze and calm seas—a gentle start to the crossing. And from there, the next sight of land would be weeks away in the form of the green mountains of Saint Lucia’s Pigeon Island National Park. As Saint Lucia Tourism Authority Director Thomas Leonce explains, the adventure doesn’t stop upon making landfall: “Saint Lucia has something for everyone, sulphur springs, the Piton mountains, our amazing beaches and of course, great parties.”
The first arrivals, a Swan 50 called Berenice and the Marsaudon ORC50 Ti Ana, took 14 days to make the crossing, arriving on December 2. The course record is just 8 days, 6 hours, and 29 minutes, but given this year’s conditions, it was a near impossibility to get close to that. The rest of the fleet is predicted to average 18-21 days to complete the crossing, and the prize-giving ceremony will be held on December 16.
Concurrent to the ARC, the ARC+ was crossing from Gran Canaria to Grenada via Cabo Verde. The ARC+, which is an independent event, saw boats leave from Gran Canaria just two days prior to the ARC departure, making for a busy Atlantic.
For more information on the ARC or the ARC+, visit worldcruising.com/arc.