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Eamon Crosbie's Discovery 55 Pamela from Dun Laoghaire has headed back to start-point Gran Canaria in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers 2017 writes W M Nixon. According to the current tracker situation, Pamela is heading eastward after a week of racing, but the mantle of Irish hopes has been taken up by Karl Fleming’s Hanse 630 Nereida, IRL 1556.

Karl Fleming is an international developer best known in Ireland for his extensive Pirate’s Cove Adventure Centre in Courtown, Co Wexford, but he also has other international projects. Nereida is a substantial and swift modern performance cruiser in classic contemporary Hanse style which can give a good account of herself in proper sailing conditions. But the wind situation along the ARC 2017 course is currently so frustrating that she is currently shown at just 5.5 knots, lying seventh in Cruising A and 24th overall in the 245-boat fleet.

Race tracker here

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The only Irish registered yacht in this year's Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) is Eamon Crosbie's Discovery 55, Pamela. 

As Afloat.ie reported earlier Crosbie set off from Dun Laoghaire on the adventure with Dublin Bay Sailing Club's Brian Mathews on board. Mathews will be absent from Dublin Bay racing for about a year, having joined Crosbie, a former Round Ireland Race winner, in what is the start of a world cruise.

An international fleet of yachts taking part in the 32nd edition of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) set sail on Sunday from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, beginning an amazing transatlantic journey to the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.

It is a particularly diverse fleet this year with boats from 30ft to 95ft setting off on the same transatlantic course, including 156 monohulls, 28 catamarans and 2 trimarans. The sailors themselves are just as varied, aged from 3 years old to over 80.

While the ARC is a cruising rally, there is a start and finish line, and the boats are split into divisions according to size, type and competition. The first start today was for the multihull division, led over the line by American flagged Lagoon 42-4 Libelula, followed by Seawind 1160 X86 and the fleet's largest trimaran, Rapido, living up to her name coming over the line third before storming off down the Gran Canarian coast.

Following on, 27 boats in the ARC Racing Division were equally eager to stretch their sea legs and sail out into the Atlantic. Regular ARC Skipper and Class winner Ross Applebey brought through Scarlet Island Girl hot on her heels swiftly followed by Valerio Bardi's Swan 46 Mk II Milanto.

The first boats to cross the line in the Cruising Division were Norwegian Arcona 400 Tiffin, Swedish Najad 460 Ellen and British Grand Soleil 56 Mad Monkey.

Of the 186 boats sailing on the ARC direct route, 4 are still in Las Palmas with technical problems delaying their departure.

The majority of boats will take 18-21 days to make the 2700 nautical mile Atlantic crossing, arriving in Rodney Bay Marina, Saint Lucia.

Tracker here

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#ARC - Ripped sails and breakages caused by chafe were the most common repairs required by transatlantic cruisers in last year’s ARC rally.

That’s according to a survey by Yachting World to detail the kinds of breakages experienced at sea — and what solutions skippers recommend to deal with them.

The magazine polled all 290 yachts that took part in the rally from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean last November and December, which also featured a number of Irish skippers and crew.

And the findings were a mix of the expected and the surprising.

More than half the fleet — 167 out of 290 yachts — experienced some kind of breakage or malfunction in last year’s rally.

Predictably enough, some of these are par for the course when it comes to long-distance ocean crossings, from issues with steering and rigging to blocked toilets.

But the magazine also found that “worrying number of yachts” had problems with their kicking straps and gooseneck fittings — issues it sees “time after time”.

Overpowered yachts, sometimes sailing with old sails, led to sail damage in several cases, while lack of routine maintenance was noted as the common thread between a number of generator problems.

Yachting World has much more on the story HERE.

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At least three Irish flagged boats as well as a number of international boats with Irish crew onboard have finished or are nearing the Caribbean finish of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers having crossed from Gran Canaria up to a fortnight ago.

Nicholas Musgrave's Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 50DS Jasmine and Diamuid Good's X–yacht Exhale, both from Cork, are close on the St. Lucia finish line while the home–built yacht Rogue Trader from Newry in County Down is also due to finish this weekend. Rogue Trader's exploits were previously reported on Afloat.ie here.

Storme Delaney from Sandycove in County Dublin and a member of the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire is one of a number of Irish sailors among an international line–up of crews across the 215–boat ARC fleet. 

Delaney, who is a regular competitor at Cork Week and Calves Week completed the 2700–mile trip on board Andrew Middleton's Beneteau First 47.7, EHO1. Delaney previously sailed in Antigua Race Week 2009 and 2010 and sailed in the 2014 Round Ireland Race from Wicklow on board the Sigma 38 State O'Chassis.

More on the ARC here.

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Ireland is well represented by an ambitious young cruising couple in a full house for this year's Atlantic Rally for Cruisers - Both route options are at capacity with waiting lists in place for the first time since the creation of ARC+ in 2013, allowing for a total of 300 boats to sail under the ARC banner this November. It's set to be the biggest migration ever to sail with the rally to the Caribbean shores of Saint Lucia!

Claire McCluskey & Nick Russell are a young couple from Ireland, who admit they “may have gotten a bit carried away”. Not long after they met in 2012, a conversation in the pub grew legs and evolved into a challenge: to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. This was a high provocation, considering at that time, one of them had never even been on a boat before. “But now, four years, 56 feet of boat and countless litres of blood, sweat and tears later, we are almost ready to go!”

Their boat Rogue Trader is a homebuilt, wooden‐hulled ketch. It took twenty years and three different owners to complete the build, until she was finally launched in Newry, Northern Ireland in 2008.

Claire and Nick became her custodians in 2013 and although structurally she was built beautifully, she needed a lot of cosmetic work, and they have worked tirelessly for the past three years cleaning, painting and refitting her ready for the ARC. “We hope to finally achieve what this boat was built for open water sailing and adventure.”

“We have each harboured a long enduring desire to take on a grand adventure, and we both feel incredibly grateful to find ourselves in the fortunate position to finally pursue such a dream. I often can’t quite believe that we have made it to this point and we have barely even started yet! We are tremendously excited at the prospect of getting to experience the sea and distant places in ways we have never known before while all the time building upon our confidence in our new lifestyle.”

31st Atlantic Rally for Cruisers prepares to set sail

ARC sailors have a choice of routes with the introduction of ARC+ Cape Verde, and two starts are planned for 2016: ARC+ will depart Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on Sunday 6 November, with approximately 75 boats sailing to Mindelo, Sao Vincente, Cape Verde for a 3 to 5 day stopover before the restart to Saint Lucia on 16 November.

The larger ARC fleet of over 200 boats will start their own Atlantic adventure on Sunday 20 November sailing directly to Saint Lucia.

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With most of the cruising fleet around the half-way mark, Frank Quinn updates his earlier report on the 30th ARC Rally for cruisers that includes three Irish boats

It was a windy and lumpy start as the fleet in the 30th ARC left Las Palmas on 22 November. 25 knots, gusting 30, would be weather most coastal sailors would regard as their signal to stay in port. In the case of ocean crossings, it's business as usual -- although our skipper did comment that the start was delayed in the past under similar conditions.

Las Palmas harbour was alive with well-wishers and jostling boats for an hour before the off: the racing fleet going first, followed by the cruising division. Aboard Nina, Stephen Cooke's Nordship 43 DS, the sense of anticipation was huge as we reefed down for our first night. A quartering 10 ft swell, coupled with following 25 knot wind, kept the watches busy. With six on board, we have opted for the classic delivery crew pattern of 4 hours on/4 hours off.

Briefings in Las Palmas recommended rounding the island then making straight for St Lucia. Our skipper preferred to head south first, a decision which proved worthwhile. Although we had three days of roller-coaster sailing, we gradually picked up more even seas before we turned to the west. Here at the half way point after 13 days, we expect to make up time now that we are on the rhumb line directly to Rodney Bay.

Sailplan is a poled-out genoa with reefed main, delivering a reliable 7-8 knots. With the exception of one calm day, we have had nothing but steady 17-25 knots on our starboard quarter. On the day the wind died, we flew our cruising chute for a pleasant six hours in the sunshine. On board, life has settled into a routine around sailing, sleeping and eating. Boat systems are working well, particularly the Raymarine autohelm which is flawless -- although it relies on the generator to keep batteries alive. The only thorny issue so far has been a leaky bolt on the Hydrovane self-steering. With following seas, its transom mounting has been under pressure. Yesterday we hove-to, removed the bolts and resealed them: stern cabin floor is dry again.

We learn from the ARC reports that several boats who took the northern route suffered gear damage and diverted to the Cape Verde Islands for repair. One boat had a medical emergency and managed to hook up with a passing freighter for help. 

At 1940 on Thursday (3 December) the skipper of Magritte to advised the yacht was taking on water. The source of the ingress could not be identified or stemmed and the four crew on board indicated that assistance was required as the situation worsened. On the advice of MRCC Falmouth, a MAYDAY was issued and the yacht’s EPIRB activated. The liferaft was readied in anticipation of a possible need to abandon the yacht.

MRCC Cape Verde coordinated the evacuation of the crew. Cargo vessel SCL Basilea diverted to provide assistance, reaching Magritte at approximately 0500 (UTC). The crew were safely evacuated and are all well on board SCL Basileawhich is now en route to Spain. Magritte was abandoned at approximate position 16 44.36N 027 27.82W.

What of the three Irish boats in the ARC?

Alpaire, a Hallberg-Rassy 48 skippered by Des Cummins in 634 miles to go; Crackerjack, Colum O'Sullivan's Oyster 53 has 848 miles; and BAM, Conor Fogerty's HYC-based Sun Fast 3600, among one of the smallest boats in the racing fleet, has just 600 miles to the finish line. 

Reporting in from Crackerjack on December 2nd, Tralee SC's Brian O'Sullivan told Afloat.ie: 'We passed mid way point & running downwind at 7 to 8 kts all day. No sightings other than whales and flying fish for 5 days! Great on board, eta Dec 12th'

The ARC camaraderie pops up every now and again on the VHF, when AIS signals appear on nav station plotters. Not just the ARC boats: a shout came in last night from Nomad IV, a 98' yacht racing a TransAt with a crew of 17. They passed at 18 knots six miles to N, happy to chat and warning of upcoming squalls.

With our target of 150 - 180 miles a day, Nina is looking good for an overall crossing time of 21 days. The trade winds are steady, she is a fine seagoing boat and we have plenty of chocolate HobNobs on board. In the ongoing swell, this definition of the perfect seagoing cook, courtesy of author Theo Dorgan, is particularly apt:

"A fireproof, acrobatic contortionist, with a strong stomach, an ability to work fast and a distinct masochistic streak".

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VO65 Team Brunel has broken the ARC Course Record sailing from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia in an elapse time of 8d 7h 39m 30s. This is the third consecutive year that the Course Record has been beaten; a year ago, Mike Slade's super-maxi Farr 100 Leopard by Finland took over two days off the previous record set by Caro, a Knierim 65 in 2013. 'Near-perfect' conditions for this year's crossing have seen Team Brunel propelled towards Saint Lucia and into the ARC history books for breaking the record on the rally's 30th edition.

The 15 strong crew on the round the world racing yacht consists of 5 professional sailors and 10 experienced amateurs who were chasing a bucket list adventure and they have not been disappointed! From the day ARC 2015 set sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Team Brunel has sprinted to the sun-soaked shores of Saint Lucia, with an average VMG of 13.5kts since the start and top wave surfing speeds of double that at times. Persistent north easterly winds due to the well-established Azores High have allowed them to zig-zag the rhumb line route for much of their crossing. Interestingly, the total distance covered on their transatlantic route is greater than the two previous record holders at 3342NM.

But their ARC experience has not been without drama and on Sunday, On Board Reporter Koen Lockefeer announced a potentially disastrous mainsail tear had occurred during a routine gybe. After a night reefed down, it was all hands on deck for a race ready repair the following morning, "Johnny and Tomas started to organize the ripped sail part, climbing up the end of the swinging boom. They tied the top and bottom end of the sail together with lashes between the sail battens as if the ripped middle part had never been there. All hands on deck again to hoist the sail to max height, about as high as 1.5 reef and carefully sheet in the main again. To everyone's joy the boat started speeding off again ... As the old sailor's wisdom states: before you can win a race you first have to finish it. The broken mainsail and subsequent repair were a very close escape from not finishing at all."

Team Brunel were welcomed to Saint Lucia at 16:24 local time (20:24 UTC) and greeted by representatives from the Saint Lucia Tourist Board and IGY Rodney Bay Marina. The crew were presented with champagne and welcome basket of island gifts to celebrate their arrival.

Celebrations are likely to continue for much of the evening around Rodney Bay. Team Brunel's nearest ARC rivals, Durlindana 3 (ITA) are still some way off reaching their berth in the Marina, and are currently expected to arrive around 20:00 local time on Thursday 3rd December. In the ARC Multihull division, trimaran La Caravelle (FRA) has consistently led the fleet and is expected to arrive on the 5th December if conditions hold. Boats in the Cruising Division will enjoy life at sea for a while longer; over the coming days many will celebrate their own milestones reaching half-way and are enjoying calmer conditions after a breezy departure from Las Palmas just over a week ago.

However the Team Brunel crew will no doubt be embraced by their fellow arrivals from the ARC+ fleet. Departing from their stopover in Mindelo, Cape Verdes five days earlier than the ARC fleet left Las Palmas, and with a shorter distance to sail to Rodney Bay, 18 of the 59 ARC+ boats have made land fall so far.

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22nd November 2015

ARC Rally Sets Sail

Years and months of intense planning and preparation finally paid off today as three Irish yachts were among the fleet taking part in ARC 2015 made their way out of Muelle Deportivo in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria this morning. There was an air of excitement throughout the marina as the ocean adventure truly begins for 1125 sailors and even a few rain squalls throughout the morning could not dampen the spirits of the eager crews.

Friends and families of the sailors as well as local well wishers and staff from the businesses around the marina lined the dock, cheering and dancing to the loud music blaring out in celebration of the start. Traditional folk band La parranda Café-Tin and brass band Banda Canarias marched around the marina serenading every pontoon to add to the festival feel. It was an incredible farewell atmosphere as the harbour gradually emptied leaving bare pontoons for another year. The Tourist Board of Gran Canaria, the Port Authority of Las Palmas and the city government of Las Palmas, have been wonderful hosts to ARC participants for the past two weeks and it is their continued support that makes the atmosphere in the lead up to start day so spectacular.

Boats had to identify themselves as they left the marina and headed through a 'gate' before making their way to the start line. To the delight of the spectators, several crews dressed up for their departure, danced on the foredeck as the gathered their fenders and lines and waved their nations flags to bid farewell to the Canarian hosts.

While the ARC is a cruising rally, there is a start and finish line, and the boats are split into divisions according to size, type and competition. A total of 195 yachts sailing under the flags of 27 nations crossed today's start lines. A strong north-north easterly breeze of 25-30 knots and moderate seas made for a lively welcome to being at sea again.

At 12:30 UTC the gun on the Spanish naval ship Tornado fired for the start of the multihull and open divisions. The first catamaran across the line was the only Mexican flagged boat in the fleet, a Lagoon 450 El Viajero skippered by Eduardo Torres. 20 other multihulls with reefed white sails followed them over the offshore start line. Neel 45 trimaran La Caravelle was thriving in the strong breeze and was soon leading the way to Saint Lucia's shores.

29 boats in this year's Racing Division were led across the start line by Ross Applebey's Oyster Lightwave 48 Scarlet Oyster followed by fellow British flagged charter boat Quokka 8. Both are regular ocean crossers with the ARC, sailing with crews of mixed abilities led by a professional skipper. Third across the line was One & Only, a Jeanneau Sun Fast 3600 from Poland.

It was an impressive scene as the majority of the fleet, over 140 yachts, sailed across the start line for the Cruising Division. Many were heavily reefed following a brief squall that came through as the start sequence began, rocking and rolling over the line. James Agace's Jua Kali, a Grand Soleil 43, was off to a terrific start leading the fleet.

Today's start provided a breezy beginning to the ARC 2015 ocean adventure as the fleet heads out to sea. The forecast is looking good for at least the first part of the crossing with moderate to strong trade winds, and with the established Azores high, a route close to the great circle or a little to the south looks favourable for a quick and comfortable sail. Chris Tibbs poignantly mentioned at Saturday's Skippers Briefing that since the rally began in 1986, "The boats are bigger, the boats are faster, and communications have changed and so has navigation. But the wind and the waves are still the same."

The departure of the ARC fleet sailing directly to Saint Lucia today means a combined total of 254 yachts are sailing the Atlantic under the ARC banner in 2015 - a record number in the 30 year history of the rally. 59 boats in the ARC+ fleet departed Mindelo, Cape Verde for their second leg of their crossing last Wednesday and are enjoying great downwind sailing and fishing triumphs reported in their logs sent in to the World Cruising Club website.

All ARC boats are fitted with YB Tracking satellite trackers, allowing family and friends to follow the fleet from the comfort of home. As well as position, the online Fleet Viewer displays heading, speed and boat information. Wind direction and speed is also shown. Friends, family and fans can follow the fleet online at http://bit.ly/1QClnDr 

The majority of boats will take 18-21 days to make the 2700 nautical mile Atlantic crossing, arriving in Rodney Bay Marina, Saint Lucia. Whatever time they make landfall, every boat will be met at the dock by Saint Lucia Tourist Board and World Cruising Club staff bearing a welcome rum punch and cold drinks. There is a full schedule of events in Rodney Bay for all ARC crews and their friends and families, culminating in the ARC prize giving on 19 December.

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The 30th ARC fleet leaves on Sunday, and here in Las Palmas the atmosphere is keen with anticipation writes Irish Transatlantic debutante Frank Quinn.

Crossing for the first time, I'm on a fine UK-registered Nordship 43 DS called Nina, owned by one-time Dublin resident Stephen Cooke. We're six in all: judging by the provisions we've just stowed, it will be a busy schedule of eating and snacking, occasionally interspersed with sailing.

There are more than 200 boats here counting down to the start. It's a well-run event, with daily seminars and a social programme. The chat in the bars is around prep, prep and more prep. T-shirted Raymarine techies are kept well-busy, and the chandler down the road has started a number system for serving.

Just three Irish boats are registered: Alpaire, a Hallberg-Rassy 48 skippered by Des Cummins; Crackerjack, Colum O'Sullivan's Oyster 53; and BAM, Conor Fogerty's HYC-based Sun Fast 3600. Among the smallest boats in the racing fleet, His target is 14-16 days to St Lucia.

ARC fleetA section of the ARC fleet in Las Palmas

Contrary to the popular plan of 'heading south until the butter melts', he intends to head west early. "We plan to ride as far as possible until it gets light," he says, "then head down to pick up the trades." Downwind rig is an A2 (tricolour!), A5 and a Code Zero. Crewing are Louis Bell, Robert Cooper, and Daragh Heagney.

It's Conor's 29th transatlantic. Once in St Lucia the plan is to compete in the Caribbean 600, then return to prep for the solo Fastnet and the Round Ireland two–hander. He points out One and Only, a Polish-registered sistership. "It will be a good race," he says.

Back to Nina, where the creature comforts include water maker, generator and a fine bank of electronics. As I type, vegetables and fruit are arriving so it's time to get busy.

Signing off... you can track Nina and all the Irish boats on the ARC site here

Irish sailor and artist Pete Hogan spent a few days in Las Palmas as the fleet was assembling before departure to Saint Lucia and you can see his watercolours here

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The 30th anniversary edition of the ARC sets out on Sunday, 22nd November. Irish sailor and artist Pete Hogan spent a few days in Las Palmas as the fleet was assembling before departure to Saint Lucia in the East Caribbean. Here he describes the fleet in words and watercolours.

The ARC, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers is probably the oldest and best known rally of this type. Started in 1985 by Jimmy Cornell, that dynamo of offshore cruising promotion, it was an event which was forming naturally anyway. Many cruising boats were sailing across the Atlantic at that time of year and so an organisation of them was a natural progression.

Cornell sold the ARC concept a few years back, apparently, (and started a rival rally called Odyssey). The Arc is now run by an operation called World Cruising Club which runs cruising rallies all over the world.

40 Footers

forty footers

Las Palmas is very welcoming to the ARC fleet and the event has spawned a vibrant marine and social industry servicing the yachts. The town has a tourist office adjoining the ARC office. The boatyard was full, the marina was full, extensive chandlery operations plied their trade. The Sailors Bar and harbour side restaurants were buzzing. Agents, sailmakers, fix it men, delivery people, courtesy cars rushed purposefully here and there. Flags declaring participation in the ARC and nationality of crew were proudly flown. Impromptu parties and problem solving sessions, seminars and safety inspections, tee shirt sales and car hire were all doing a great trade. And there were still a few weeks to go before blast off.

Bow View

from the bow

Looking at the participants there is a fine mix of nations with three Irish boats listed this year. In addition I met Liam Kavanagh from Tipperary with his girlfriend on their Welsh 40 footer living the dream and there were several other Irish crew in evidence. There is a huge contingent from Scandinavia with the Swedish flag all over the place. Notable by their absence are the French with only 10 entries, a low number for this fanatical sailing nation.
There is a minimum size indicator from the organisers of 27 ft. but in reality the average size of entry is much longer, perhaps 45 ft. The smallest entry I could find this year was a redoubtable Contessa 32.

50 Footers

fifty footers

The size, quality and style of the typical ARC participant is indicative of the nature of the ARC nowadays. A typical entry is big, has a centre cockpit, full furling sails (usually electric), water maker and extensive battery of electronics, refrigeration and safety equipment. Electric auto pilots seem to have superseded the magic self-steering vanes, I was sad to note.

Scooner n Cat

Schooner and cat

Grand Bleu

Grand Bleu

Hard Men

Hard Men

HR 48

HR 48

There is a huge multihull division with in excess of 35 boats. And all of these would be 50 foot type cats, mainly Lagoon brand. I’m not a fan of these big boxy boats.

Of course you do not have to be in the ARC to sail across the Atlantic on the milk run. The anchorage at Las Palmas was full of the more normal mix of world cruising fleet. As the ARC website says; ‘Most people join a World Cruising Club rally for the security and peace of mind of an organised event; for the camaraderie and friendship of a large group of like-minded people; and for the fun of sailing in a fleet of boats. It’s as much fun for experienced sailors as for those new to ocean sailing.’

Bon Voyage to the participants in the ARC 2015.

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