SUNDAY 24th November 2019 marked the official start of the 34th edition of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) sea voyage from La Palmas across the Atlantic to Saint Lucia, some 2700 nautical miles.
To coincide with this spectacular event the IGY Marina, the Saint Lucia Sailing Association, and Events Saint Lucia staged the 14th edition of the Flotilla which left the Castries Habour at 12.00 noon headed for the IGY Rodney Bay Marina at the same time as the Las Palmas event sailed off.
Unlike previous years, it was not the type of attendance the organizers would have liked as only 28 boats made the trip compared to 72 last year.
The highlight of the day was onboard the Janna Bout captained by Aldean Louis – Fernand along with his wife Janna Louis – Fernand (cancer survivor) and close family friends who took the opportunity to sail on the Caribbean Sea advocating Breast Cancer Awareness.
Some of the participating boats included Reel Extreme, Moon Fleet, Luna, Grayling, Attitude, Just A Splash, Domino, Janna Bout, Slow Down, Endless Summer, Albaran, Life of Reiley, 11 Short, Jus Sail, Excellency and First Sail.
General Manager for IGY Rodney Bay Marina, Shawn Devaux said, “The yachting industry for Saint Lucia, not just the ARC, in general has been a privotal point for IGY, for the economic benefit to Saint Lucia. We have a facility, more importantly an island, that is privileged to welcome 300 vessels, 1800 sailors, and 4000 visitors to Saint Lucia. So if you take that into account in 2018 it was $7 million spent within three weeks by the participants and that participation is spent at the grass roots level.
“… Saint Lucia is fortunate to have the facility, the comradery, the hospitality, the airlift and the beauty of the island that welcome these people in; we shouldn’t take it for granted and that’s why IGY finds it important along with the private and public stakeholders to make this event successful.”
“It’s a fun time as you saw, starting off with the ARC Flotilla; you saw the IGY team working tirelessly to make this effort possible. We’ve been doing it for a few years, and again you are dealing with mother nature and the wind, no one year is a duplicate of the next, you have to have a plan in place with a bit of flexibility. Our long term clients obviously understand the importance of it; they work with us very hard to allow us to remove their boat to make space for the ARC. We have the private sector that supports the Flotilla, Bernard Johnson and his team; they have worked tirelessly over the years to support it with very little to non-recognition.”
He added, “Last year was our most successful ARC in terms of planning and execution and this year we have planned a lot earlier and we expect the same results.”
In terms of the logistics: “We have had our security meetings, we liaise very much with the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force / Marine Unit, and we have our plan in place. We need to provide national security. Security is a big challenge not just ARC but for the yachting industry, for tourism and for Saint Lucia. The Marine Unit will be stationed here so we can work closely to execute a safe and effective ARC,” he noted.
In terms of entertainment, Devaux said there is a full calendar of events to be put on by Events Company of Saint Lucia along with IGY, Saint Lucia Yacht Club, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority and World Cruising Club.
“This year is very special for us,” he concluded. “We have a youth team participating, more than ever it’s a great experience for Saint Lucia. It is something we should cherish and nurture to show the world what we are capable of. One of these youth sailors is Adonai Modeste who came through the SLYC youth sailing programme which IGY sponsors and a lot of the private sector sponsors. We are elated to boost the talent Saint Lucia has in terms of seamanship.”