Sports

Fourth ARC + Sets Sail; 72 Boats Leave Las Palmas

Image: Saphir one of the many participating yachts in this years ARC. [Anthony De Beauville]

THE fourth edition of ARC+ Cape Verde set sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canariaon Sunday bound for Mindelo in Cape Verde. A fleet of 72 boats is set to enjoy some textbook tradewind sailing as they sail south to the island of São Vicente.

The ARC+ Cape Verde route option is part of the 2016 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers and was introduced for the first time in 2013 to give sailors in the world’s most popular trans-ocean rally a choice of routes across the Atlantic. ARC+ sees the fleet sail to the Cape Verdes, and following the 3-5 day stopover in Mindelo, the yachts will re-group and head off across the Atlantic on 16 November bound for Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia.

This year there are boats registered from 19 countries around the globe including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, France, UK, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and USA. Crew on board represent 24 different nationalities and are aged from 3 to 75 years old.

ARC+ has been exceptionally popular with family boats crossing the Atlantic this year with 15 children under the age of 16 taking part. Regular ARC mascot ‘Ed the Iguana’ will make his annual ocean crossing with Lotti Heathcote the crew of Alderman (GBR). During their time in Las Palmas, crews have enjoyed a pre-departure programme of seminars, safety inspections and social functions. “We’ve enjoyed some fantastic hospitality here in Gran Canaria, and it will be a shame to lose these views,” said Colin Charles from the crew of Fleet II before setting off, “We’re as ready as we’ll ever be, fully provisioned and raring to go. The high seas and some sailing await!”

The camaraderie and friendships that have developed between ARC+ sailors were particularly evident today as they slipped their lines to head to the start line and waved their goodbyes to their fellow ralliers. The music blasted out across the marina, creating a party atmosphere as the boats head to sea.

The fleet is now on its way to Mindelo, 865NM to the southwest of Gran Canaria. ARC+ Rally Control expect to be welcoming the first arrivals in four days’ time and the smaller boats, often with double-handed crews should all arrive in good time to enjoy a few days of exploration and relaxation before tackling the longer Atlantic stage to Saint Lucia in the Caribbean.

As the ARC+ fleet left Sunday, the pre-departure programme had only just begun for the crews of the ARC fleet sailing directly to Saint Lucia on 20 November. After a spectacular welcome party hosted by the Las Palmas City Council on Friday night, crews have spent the weekend exploring Las Palmas, and many headed out to wave off the ARC+ fleet.

Before their own start on November 20, ARC Crews can look forward to a full programme of preparation seminars and social activities. Safety inspections are already underway and during the next two weeks, there will be seminars run daily covering useful topics for ocean sailing including provisioning, communications, weather and sailing techniques.

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