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Robert Rendell's Oyster 565 'Tir Na nOg' from Howth Yacht Club is among over 250 international yachts that have gathered in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria this month for their transatlantic adventure to the Caribbean with the annual ARC rally.

The crew of the Irish yacht Tír na Nóg, who will be starting the ARC transatlantic rally tomorrow, are Mark Mansfield, Anthony Doyle, John Forde, owner Bob Rendell, Thomas Hoey and Paddy Gregory.

As Afloat reported earlier, November marks the start of ‘ARC Season’ with the first wave of 96 yachts departed on the ARC+ rally on 5 November bound for Grenada via Cape Verde, with a more extensive fleet of 159 ARC yachts departing on 19 November direct to Saint Lucia.

Robert Rendell's Oyster 565 'Tir Na nOg' from Howth Yacht Club is  entered in the ARC2023 Cruising division rally from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria across the Atlantic Ocean to the CaribbeanRobert Rendell's Oyster 565 'Tir Na nOg' from Howth Yacht Club is  entered in the ARC2023 Cruising division rally from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean

ARC rallies provide a supportive environment for cruisers, and a record number of 65 children will cross the Atlantic with the ARC rallies this year.

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The ‘ARC season’ began today when 95 yachts departed Las Palmas de Gran Canaria bound for Cape Verde on leg 1 of the ARC+ transatlantic cruising rally.

This is a record-breaking fleet for the event, proving the growing popularity of this two-stage Atlantic adventure and the appeal of the destinations in Cape Verde and Grenada.

As aflaot reported earlier, from Ireland, Robert Rendell's Oyster 565 'Tir Na nOg'  from Howth Yacht Club is among over 250 international yachts gathered in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to prepare for their transatlantic adventure.

Cats and Kids

ARC+ 2023 is a record-breaking year for ‘cats and kids’. With 26 multihulls taking part, a 30% increase on last year, almost a third of the fleet are catamarans, eight of which were launched in 2023. 44 children aged from 8 months to 16 years are sailing with their families on 20 different multis and monohulls.

During the two weeks in Las Palmas the kids have made friends as their parents use the seminars and support on hand to prepare for the ocean crossing. On start day, a group of kids from S pontoon were having fun playing, completely unbothered by the thousands of miles ahead. When asked, 7-year-old Zach McMaster from Outremer 51, Spirit (AUS), said “I’m really sad about leaving as I won’t get to play with my friends on the other boats for a week.”

One of the ‘cats with kids’ is Broadblue Rapier 51 Blue Wonder (GBR). The Griffiths family from Australia have been cruising the Med with a series of multis before settling on the Broadblue, which will take them back to Australia with World ARC. Mum and co-skipper Audrey said: “We’re all set and ready, and just planning which sail set up to run with out of here.”

The ARC+ Start

While ARC+ isn’t a race and there is no racing division, the yachts have a start time to provide fun competition. At 12:45, the starting gun fired on Customs cutter Condor, starting the 26 ARC+ multihulls under blue skies and 12 knots of wind from just west of north. The first three boats across the line were all from Outremer – a 51, Maracuja (FRA) flying her orange gennaker, followed by Outremer 55-2 XIII Treize (FRA) and Nuvem Magica (FRA), an Outremer 5X.

The monohulls were next across the line at 13:00 with a very competitive start. Hanse 455 Infinity of Yar (GBR), Italia Yachts 15.98 Nessun Dorma (ITA), Rustler 44 Sea Hayes (GBR) and Oyster 485 Wild Goose (GBR) crossed the line in close formation. Most skippers opted for a conservative start – after all, it is over 800 nautical miles to Mindelo, 5 to 7 days of trade winds sailing.


From Gran Canaria, the fleet will sail 850 nautical miles to Cape Verde. The passage should be a quick one, as the NE trade winds are already well established. The boats are expecting 20-25 knots of wind with gusts of 25-30 knots and a decent long swell for the next week.

After nearly a week ashore for sightseeing and recuperation, on November 17 the 456 participants will start the second stage of the ARC+ rally, sailing 2150 nautical miles across the Atlantic to Grenada.

World Cruising Club Managing Director, Paul Tetlow, explains the route: “Their first destination will be the beautiful island of Sao Vicente in the Cape Verde islands, where they will be warmly welcomed at Marina Mindelo. It is easy to see why the voyage via Cape Verde is growing in popularity – not only does it make a convenient stop after five to seven days of sailing, but the islands have a unique culture that adds to the whole ARC+ experience.”

Named Yachting Destination of the Year by the Caribbean Travel Awards, Grenada is the final rally landfall. Zara Tremlett, Manager at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, says, “The team and I are so looking forward to welcoming the ARC+ 2023 participants to this beautiful marina and we can’t wait to share our authentic Grenadian hospitality and celebrate your Atlantic crossing achievements together.”

“Grenada is buzzing with excitement to welcome 400 plus international sailors on 95 boats in this year’s ARC+ transatlantic crossing. Grenada has amazing culinary, soft-adventure, diving, hiking, chocolate-making and rum-tasting experiences to choose from, and our warm, friendly people appreciate every visitor interaction,” said Petra Roach, CEO of Grenada Tourism Authority.

Landfall in Grenada isn’t the end of the rally experience. The prizegiving ceremony on 7 December celebrates not only the achievement of sailing the Atlantic, but also good seamanship and the spirit of camaraderie for which the rally is famous. “We wish the sailors in this record-breaking ARC+ rally fair winds for their Atlantic adventure. See you all in Cape Verde and then Grenada,” concludes Tetlow.

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Robert Rendell's Oyster 565 'Tir Na nOg'  from Howth Yacht Club is among over 250 international yachts gathering in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to prepare for their transatlantic adventure to the Caribbean with the annual ARC rally.

November marks the start of ‘ARC Season’ with the first wave of 96 yachts departing on the ARC+ rally on 5 November bound for Grenada via Cape Verde, with a more extensive fleet of 159 ARC yachts departing on 19 November direct to Saint Lucia.

ARC rallies provide a supportive environment for cruisers, and a record number of 65 children will cross the Atlantic with the ARC rallies this year.

Catamarans are clearly a popular option for families, comprising almost two-thirds of family boats. More families choose to sail on the ARC+ route, which divides the Atlantic into two legs with a four-to-six-day stopover in Mindelo, creating a more manageable voyage for small sailors. 45 children will sail in ARC+ 2023, aged 8 months to 16 years, and 20 children in the direct ARC route to Saint Lucia.

Children of all nationalities soon make friends within the fleet, with family boats moored together in Las Palmas Marina, and a children’s activity club available to give parents space to provision and prepare for the ocean crossing.

Racing to the Rum

ARC is the only World Cruising Club rally with a competitive racing division, and 14 monohulls will race under IRC from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia. Boats to watch include the sleek Vismara 62 Leaps & Bounds 2 (MLT) and the pair of CNB 76s SOL (MLT) and Playstation PS5 (MLT) will undoubtedly enjoy a tactical tussle.

The ARC Racing Division is popular with boats heading for a Caribbean racing season, and regular participants EH01 (GBR), Hot Stuff (GBR), Emily of Cowes (GBR) and Escapado (GBR) deliver a taste of competitive ocean racing to amateur crews under the watchful eye of a pro skipper.

Some of the speedier multihulls are likely to challenge the racing yachts into Saint Lucia, with the new Marsaudon ORC50 Ti ana (FRA) a hot tip for line honours. Owner Régis Guillemot was first across the line in ARC 2019 with his previous boat Hallucine, a Marsaudon TS5. Giving keen competition will be Outremer 51 Piment Rouge (FRA), which previously claimed the ARC+ line honours.

Supportive Sailing

Each rally begins with World Cruising Club’s ‘Yellow Shirt’ team supporting two weeks of preparations, seminars, activities and socials in Las Palmas. Highlights of the programme include lectures on ocean cruising topics from rigging to communications and an excursion to plant trees at the ARC Forest environmental project.

Ensuring their boats are rally-ready, many skippers have undertaken Virtual Safety Equipment Inspections prior to arrival and these will be followed up with checks in port before departure. These checks provide great reassurance, running through the necessary items to ensure a safe ocean crossing covering over 3,000 nautical miles.

Destination Caribbean

Whichever route they follow, rally participants are assured of a warm welcome in the Caribbean, and the World Cruising Yellow Shirt team and fellow rally participants celebrate every landfall.

Camper & Nicholson's Port Louis Marina in St George's, Grenada, is the final destination for ARC+, while the ARC finishes in IGY Rodney Bay Marina in Saint Lucia. Arrivals enjoy a programme of activities culminating in a prize-giving ceremony for each rally, recognising the achievements of the fastest in each division and class, of seamanship and of the spirit of the rally.

For some, the ARC and ARC+ is the gateway to a grander adventure, sailing around the world with WorldARC; others look forward to a winter of Caribbean racing and cruising before returning across the Atlantic with ARC Europe.

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Gran Canaria bid farewell today to the ARC January fleet for the second edition of the 'new year rally' organised by World Cruising Club. Following the first edition in 2022, ARC January 2023 has seen 30 boats gathering to cross the Atlantic, heading for Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia. The boats set sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria today, Sunday 15th January with two starts, the Multihulls departed first at 12:45UTC with the Cruising class following at 13:00UTC. There was much excitement this morning as after months of preparations the boats and crews finally embarked on their 2,700nm journey to the Caribbean.

The smallest yacht crossing with ARC January this year is Middle Island, a Westerly Storm 33 while the largest yacht is Finiens, a Hanse 675. It was a beautiful day in Las Palmas and the skyline was dotted with white sails as the fleet made their way to the starting area. On board, crews from 16 nations were eager to get going. Spirits were high on the pontoons this morning, as the last checks were made and excitement for the start was in the air with the sailors eager to get going on their journeys and paraded out of Las Palmas Marina.

Ahead of the start, the sailors have enjoyed their time in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with the port city providing a warm welcome and a fun place to see in the New Year. Preparing for a long ocean crossing invariably requires a long list of jobs and the local businesses in the marina have supported the yachts ensuring they are shipshape and ready to sail. The programme in Las Palmas has included a series of seminars to assist with the planning for the crossing and every boat has had an individual Safety Inspection from the World Cruising Club team to help support skippers’ preparations. The fun social side of the rally, including a visit to the ARC forest, sundowners and parties, has developed a great feeling of camaraderie amongst the departing crews.

It was a spectacular sight out on the water as the fleet readied to cross the line with a meter-high swell and calm breeze welcoming them to the ocean. The first countdown began from onboard the Committee Vessel for the Multihull Division as a steady wind of 15 knots blew from North-East. Leading the fleet of 12 multihulls, Austrian boat Pantiki, a Lagoon 380 was first across the start line skippered by Albert Pucher, one of two double-handers in the rally. Chee Hoo, a USA-flagged Neel 47, one of the two trimarans in the fleet, was next across the line followed by Te Reva, a French Outremer 45.

The Cruising Division followed fifteen minutes later, featuring 18 yachts at today’s start. First over the line was Finiens, a Hanse 675 and the largest boat in the fleet at 21.1 meters. Cohiba, a UK-flagged Bluewater 476, was second over the line, followed by Another Brick, a Beneteau First 44.7.

The yachts and crews will now adapt to life at sea with quite a change of pace from the pre-departure rush. As the boats get south of Gran Canaria they should pick up some stronger North Easterly trade winds, a lovely start to their ocean crossing. There will doubtless be plenty of discussions onboard the yachts throughout the crossing as each crew decides the route they will take to get the best winds. The classic route of sailing south towards the Cape Verde Islands before heading for the Caribbean is sure to be popular. Their progress can be followed on the YB Races App and Fleet Viewer page of the World Cruising Club website.

From the ARC January 2023 departure today, the majority of boats will take 18-21 days to make the 2,700 nautical mile Atlantic crossing, arriving in Rodney Bay Marina, Saint Lucia at the end of January. An exciting arrival programme is planned with each boat being met in Saint Lucia by the yellow shirt team with some rum punch and local fruit and a wonderful welcoming atmosphere in IGY Rodney Bay Marina.

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Ballyronan Boat Club is a small club on the Northwestern shore of Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland, the largest body of inland water in the British Isles, and it was from this small outfit that the Commodore, Elwyn Agnew and four friends embarked on an ambitious adventure in the autumn of 2022.

Ballyronan is an RYA training centre and provides powerboat, sailing and windsurfing lessons from beginner to advanced. In his mission statement, Elwyn Agnew says, “The Club is keen to create great experiences and long-lasting memories”. And this venture has certainly done that.

Ballyronan Boat Club on Lough NeaghBallyronan Boat Club on Lough Neagh

From a throwaway remark developed the idea that the ARC – Atlantic Rally for Cruisers in Elwyn’s aptly named Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45 Optimistic could be a runner. Optimistic is berthed in Carrickfergus Marina, and she was delivered in just under three weeks to Gran Canaria in September in preparation for the 37th edition of the Race. That trip covered 2300 nm and apparently was quite an adventure with sightings of whales and dolphins, fish jumping on board, glorious sunshine and lightning storms.

Optimistic's ARC track across the AtlanticOptimistic's ARC track across the Atlantic

The first stage of the rally sails from Las Palmas to Mindelo Marina, São Vicente on Cape Verde, approximately 850nm. Following the four to six day stopover, it’s on to Port Louis Marina, Grenada. The passage to Grenada in the Caribbean is approximately 2150nm.

The crew consisted of Elwyn and his daughter Emily and Michael Brown from Ballyronan, Anna Richmond from Vancouver, Canada and Matt Ruiz from London.

 The crew in Grenada (l to r) Emily Agnew (Ballyronan BC), Elwyn Agnew (Commodore Ballyronan BC) Anna Richmond (Vancouver) Matt Ruiz (London) and Michael Browne (Ballyronan BC) The crew in Grenada (l to r) Emily Agnew (Ballyronan BC), Elwyn Agnew (Commodore Ballyronan BC) Anna Richmond (Vancouver) Matt Ruiz (London) and Michael Browne (Ballyronan BC)

Michael Browne says that they were blessed with good weather, mostly 20 – 22 knots of wind with a few squally nights, and the voyage to Cape Verde took six days and then a further two weeks to Grenada which they reached on 2nd December.

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The 10th edition of World Cruising Club’s popular ARC+ rally concluded last night with a spectacular prizegiving ceremony held for the 400+ crews from 91 boats taking part in the second 2022 ARC+ to finish at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, Grenada. Over 400 crews from 27 countries, sailing under the flags of 22 nations had completed the two-stage transatlantic 3,000NM rally, from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Mindelo, Cape Verde Islands (850NM), with the final landfall in the Caribbean spice island of Grenada (2,150NM). The ARC+ is a truly international affair, attracting participants from around the world, as well as a highly diverse fleet and demographic of sailors; young and old (aged 3 to 76 years); boats large (21.07m (67’) and small (9.75m (32’), and yachts old (from 1979), and new (six boats built in 2022).

With first arrival Fra Diavolo (ITA) finishing 12 days previously and Earendel (GBR), the only motorboat in the rally (a late starter from Mindelo), arriving just as the final prizegiving was starting, it was time to applaud everyone in this ocean-crossing community with awards for sailing performance and contributions to the amazing rally spirit that has developed over the past six weeks. With the sun setting and a steel pan playing, Prickly Bay Marina was the perfect setting for the final coming together of crew members, including the many children in the fleet; all there to celebrate crossing the Atlantic Ocean and their terrific achievements in the 2022 ARC+ rally.

Paul Tetlow, Managing Director of World Cruising Club (Designate) was assisted by Nikoyan Roberts, Nautical Development Manager at Grenada Tourism Authority, presenting prizes on behalf of the Hon. Lennox Andrews; Minister for Economic Development, Planning, Tourism and CEO Petra Roach, who were unable to attend. Zara Tremlett, General Manager at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina also helped hand out an array of silverware, plaques, Grenadian gift baskets, and a whole host of special prizes and vouchers to the worthy winners.

A packed ARC 2022 Prizegiving in Grenada Photo:  Travis RangerA packed ARC 2022 Prizegiving in Grenada Photo: Travis Ranger

Proceedings began with a sincere recognition of the teams and people in Grenada who play an important part in the rally, and who have put so much into organising ARC+ 2022 once again. All were thanked for their invaluable day-to-day support in the seamless delivery of the rally: Grenada Tourism Authority; especially Nikoyan Roberts, who had been responsible for the GTA input into planning; Zara Tremlett, General Manager, and all her staff at Camper & Nicholson Port Louis Marina who have worked tirelessly to accommodate the ARC+ fleet; the Marine and Yachting Association of Grenada (MAYAG); and last but not least, the amazing participants of ARC+ and their friends and families, some of whom joined them at the awards.

The ARC+ is a rally and not a race, but this does not mean that the crews do not want to make good speed and get the most out of their boat and team’s capabilities as they head across on the long ocean passage. Recognition in the form of prizes and applause was given to the winners in the various divisions and included the first to cross the finish line in the Cruising Division, Vincenzo Addessi’s Mylius 60 Fra Diavolo (ITA). The team sailed a course of 2440NM in 9 days 5h 46m 49s.

Moving on to the results based on WCC handicaps, with a motoring penalty applied, it was time to award those in the Multihull Division. Once again, it was Pierre De Saint-Vincent’s French Outremer 51 Piment Rouge (FRA), who took Multihull Line Honours, and was also first on corrected time for the second year running. Their elapsed time of 11 days 12hrs 20mins 06secs bettered their 2021 time by over 3 ½ days, thus setting a new record for ARC+ multihulls going forward. “Piment Rouge, you and your crew provided so much energy to the ARC+ Rally and were happily up at whatever time in the morning to welcome in several other crews and to get the party started. Thank you for being such fantastic participants,” said Paul Tetlow. In 2nd place, was sister ship, Helia2 (USA), Rob & Ginny Beams’ Outremer 51, followed in 3rd by the Lagoon 42-2 Balance3 (FIN).

The ARC+ Cruising Division was split into four classes based on handicaps; with Hallberg-Rassy 48 MK II Blonde Moment (GBR) topping Class D, Amel Super Maramu 2000 Simoussi (BEL) 1st in Class C, Baltic 51 Alexandra (SWE) 1st in Class B and Mylius 60 Fra Diavolo (ITA) winning Class A.

It was not just the crews who were successful in the competitive side of the rally who received prizes; there were many other awards given out for happenings at sea, the closest finish and longest distance sailed, most beautiful boat, as well as recognising double-handed crews who took part, plus the SSB Net controllers for their great work and assistance during the crossing.

ARC+ always attracts many families and this year is no exception, with 36 children under the age of 16 sailing on 18 different boats; with the youngest, 3‐year‐old Herman Habenicht on Ballerina. It was to raucous applause that the young sailors in the fleet took to the stage to collect their certificates and special ARC+ branded Grenadian chocolates. “Crossing the Atlantic is an impressive feat at any age, but these children have achieved it very early on in their lives!”, said Paul Tetlow.

“Just arriving in Grenada is a huge achievement but we appreciate that it is not always easy, things can go wrong and things don’t go to plan, but you all got here. Along the way, things happened and the spirit of this rally is how people deal with those adversities,” said Paul Tetlow who explained that crews nominated recipients of the next awards to recognise their personal appreciation of extraordinary things that were carried out at sea.

The crew of Swn y Mor nominated and presented Karen on Mistral of Portsmouth for the Bravery at Sea Award after she went up the mast to cut away the Super Zero caught around the forestay in rough conditions, shortly after leaving Mindelo. Deserving more than just bruises in recognition of her heroic work, she was invited to the stage and received a basket filled with Grenadian goodies. The Facing Adversity Award went to the crew of Hanuman (USA), as nominated by Helia2. On the first leg, on their third night at sea, the Catana 53 hit a submerged object. The crew calmly informed Rally Control of their situation that their port hull had been hit and the starboard rudder smashed off. Managing to plug the leaks and later jump into the water to confirm there was no further damage to their saildrive, the crew sailed Hanuman on to Mindelo. They maintained positivity and good humour, and made started leg 2 with the rest of the fleet to Grenada.

Two ‘Standing By’ Awards were presented. The first was presented to Infinity for shadowing Helga all the way to the finish when they reported concerns about excessive movement in their rudder post, as well as a leakage of water into their machinery space. The second Standing By Award went to Alexandra, recognising the seamanship and assistance provided by the crew to Alika following their serious incident on board their Oyster 675, which was the beginning of a 10-day ordeal for the crew. “Alexandra saw the vessel in distress and made several calls by Sat phone to Rally Control which in turn allowed us to inform the MRCCs of the unfolding incident. The crew stood by Alika and transferred medical supplies before being released to continue their crossing to Grenada. They received the second Standing By Award of the evening, recognising the seamanship and assistance provided by the crew,” said Paul Tetlow as the crew accepted the award on stage.

The last, but not least, award of the prizegiving evening was the Spirit of ARC+ awarded to the crew of Outremer 45 One Piece in recognition of their standby support and great seamanship.

“One Piece demonstrated the highest levels of support that sailors are willing to give,” said Paul Tetlow. “They diverted their course to rendezvous with Alika in difficult conditions. The crew provided frequent Satcom updates to Rally Control and email updates. They stood by Alika and gave support and attention on the VHF so that they could help run the boats. They left them when arrangements to sail north to better conditions with a motor vessel had been established. However, that was not the end of their story as they then had a drama to contend with. They lost the starboard rudder, suffered ingress of water and kept Rally Control informed so we could alert the MRCCs. They displayed a great amount of seamanship in their time with Alika and also in getting themselves to safe port. It was a fantastic and well-deserved welcome on the docks when they finally arrived in Grenada.”

Skipper of Alika, Ross Allonby sent a heart-felt message to read out at the prizegiving, highlighting seamanship at the highest level and selfless kindness demonstrated by fellow ARC+ participants: “We are sorry not to be with you at the prizegiving. ARC+ has been a memorable event for us all and we will have more sailing stories. I personally look forward to less stressful passages in the future. The camaraderie, friendship and shared passion for the sea has been a reminder of the goodwill and fortitude of fellow sailors. We thank you all for your warm wishes and wish you safe and happy sailing in the future. Fair winds from Team Alika."

The rally this year has been one of great seamanship, unique friendships have been formed, special memories have been made and the ocean sailors of ARC+ 2022 can all feel rightly proud of their achievements to reach the shores of Pure Grenada, the spice island.

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November has seen some near-perfect trade wind conditions across the mid-Atlantic for the 37th edition of the ARC, which has meant a fast crossing for the fleet of 2022. So far, it has been a true ocean sleigh ride, a little rocking and rolling at times, but the boats have fared well, and crews have shown great spirit as the miles fall away to approach the shores of Saint Lucia.

Regularly covering over 220NM per day it has been hugely exciting to watch the progress of Marsaudon ORC 50 Malolo speeding toward the finish line. Since leaving the shores of Gran Canaria on Sunday, 20 November, Malolo headed well south of the rhumb line to pick up the trades. After a superb effort from the entire crew, the sleek carbon-composite catamaran crossed the finish line in Rodney Bay at 20:42:26 local time on Thursday, 1 December 2022.

Canadian skipper Duncan Gladman and American owner Tom Kassberg along with four further crew, sailed the Marsaudon Composites designed performance catamaran 3,108NM across the Atlantic on what proved to be an adrenaline-filled ride. They were thrilled to lead the ARC fleet into Rodney Bay, realising a long-held dream of Tom’s to complete an Atlantic crossing. Before leaving Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Malolo’s crew had certainly been picked as the ones to watch, bringing racing experience from several regattas on the west coast of the United States and having taken part in a number of ocean races in the Pacific. The ORC 50 was launched from the factory earlier this year, and after Tom and his family had finished cruising in the Mediterranean, the ARC beckoned to really stretch the boat’s performance capabilities.

World Cruising Club’s ‘Yellowshirt’ team were out on the finish line to cheer Malolo on and welcome them to Saint Lucia. After an escort into the marina, Tom and his crew soon tied Malolo up and leapt onto the pontoon to rapturous applause from neighbouring boats and even crew from previous ARCs came along to congratulate them. After big hugs, they were presented with a goodie bag and basket of local fruits and vegetables along with the keenly awaited rum punch. Tom said, “I heard all about the traditional welcome rum punch and I have been looking forward to this moment.”

When asked how the boat fared and what the conditions were like they all agreed that the boat had been 'just great' and as for the weather they had experienced excellent trade wind conditions all the way only seeing squalls on one of the 11 days at sea. Beaming, Tom said, “I am really pleased with the boat and we hit a new record of 28.2kts which was at night with the spinnaker up so it was a big thrill.” The only challenge they experienced was sailing through large clumps of sargasso weed which at one stage got so caught under the rudders the boat started to round up. Thankfully with a bit of clever manoeuvring, they managed to release themselves and nobody had to take a swim.

The arrival of Malolo officially kicks off the ARC programme in Rodney Bay and a presentation for the first arrival will take place in IGY Rodney Bay Marina on Friday to celebrate their success. Malolo’s leads the ARC fleet of 137 yachts due to make landfall in Saint Lucia with around 800 crew onboard. It’s a diverse fleet with boats of all shapes and sizes set to be welcomed to the beautiful island with a full programme of events planned, supported by the Events Company of Saint Lucia, IGY Rodney Bay Marina, and the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority.

The next anticipated arrival is Alchemy, a Nordhavn 72, the only motor vessel in the fleet; they are currently expected in Rodney Bay with an estimated arrival in the early hours of Sunday 4 November after a delayed departure from Gran Canaria.

The Multihull Division is made up of a handsome number of 36 boats this year, including Malolo, and their fellow catamarans and trimarans are also making quick work of the ocean miles so far. “We had some glorious sailing last night and today surfing down big swells at double-digit speeds maxing out at 19 knots!” reported Chet and Jessy on Navasana, a Nautitech 46. They have just passed the half-way point, but the forecast is for lighter winds for the mid-fleet group, who can anticipate a further 8-10 days at sea. Closer to Sant Lucia’s shores, there’s a match race hotting up for a pair of newly built Outremer 55’s Catarsis and Chilli Pepper, diving well south in search of breeze, and the much-loved ARC Rallies regular Minimole a Neel 47 from Italy is currently on a more direct course to the Pitons; with 600nm still to run, it will be interesting to see how tactics pay off, with the next multihull arrival predicted on Monday 5 December.

Meanwhile, who will sail first into the Bay for the monohulls of the Cruising Division? It could be a matter of David vs Goliath for the classic cruisers; Feeling Good, the Southern Wind 82 has dived far south of the rhumb line, joined by Swan 60 Emma, whilst Shipman 63 Fatjax, X-Yachts Xp-55 Paradox and Swan 56 Toucan are all some 150nm north of them with bows firmly pointed at Rodney Bay. The Brits onboard a Dehler 42, Sunbeat VI, fuelled by bacon sandwiches, are leading the smaller cruisers of Class D and doing a sterling job of keeping pace with the bigger boys having sailed over 2000nm of the course so far.

As the excitement following the Fleet Viewer intensifies, so does the atmosphere in IGY Rodney Bay Marina. After a tough couple of years with the arrival programme curtailed by protocols, it is with a sense of relief that the bars and restaurants are brightly illuminated, and music is ringing out around the Marina boardwalk. 

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It was an exciting start to the 37th edition of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) today, Sunday, 20 November, from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, as a north-easterly swell gave the boats a rolling send-off. In total, 138 of the 143-strong fleet took the start for the 2,700nm sail to Saint Lucia, with a long-range forecast promising good tradewinds to whisk them to the Caribbean. Over 800 crew are taking part in ARC 2022 on board a diverse fleet of cruising yachts with monohulls, multihulls and a motorboat leaving Gran Canaria today.

Hosts of the start since the first ARC in 1986, Las Palmas Marina has come alive with the annual event once again for the two-week rally pre-departure programme. Participants have enjoyed exploring Gran Canaria, and the city of Las Palmas has been excellent for provisioning and preparing for the crossing to Saint Lucia, which is expected to take 18-20 days for the average cruiser. Rally organisers World Cruising Club have carried out safety checks for each boat and organised a varied programme of seminars and social evenings in the lead up to the start, fuelling the rally camaraderie evident on each dock of the marina. “It’s been a really slick operation, all the aspects here in Las Palmas,” said Mark Lawrence, crew on board the Australian Dufour 56 Smooth Operator. “The services and facilities have been really good, from the riggers to the provisioners, and it just takes so much stress out of the preparations having all this support. Now we feel, ‘let’s get going’! We can’t wait for some great trade wind sailing to the Caribbean!”

There was an emotional farewell atmosphere as Las Palmas Marina gradually emptied leaving bare pontoons for another year. The Tourist Board of Gran Canaria, the Port Authority of Las Palmas and the Ayuntamiento of Las Palmas, have been wonderful hosts to ARC participants for the past two weeks, and crews said goodbye to the city with waves and cheers as the yachts processioned out of the marina.

Over the past 48 hours in Gran Canaria, as crews made their final preparations for the start of their Atlantic crossing, strong gusting winds from the NE have built up a significant 1.5m swell; ideal for surfers, but causing some discomfort for boats on the start line today. The wind was more easterly than is typical for an ARC start, meaning it was a white sail reaching start in the 18-20 knot winds. The weather forecast for the next 24 hours shows winds around 20 knots, with higher gusts in the acceleration zone to the south of Gran Canaria. The acceleration zone extends 100NM down from the Island, where its 2000m high mountain causes significant increases in wind strengths south of the island. Skippers will need to take precautions, reefing early and navigating a more southerly route away from the strongest winds during the first 24 hours. With daylight tomorrow, they fleet should be moving into more settled trade winds, especially to the south of the rhumb line, a pattern expected to hold for at least the first week of the crossing.

With the committee vessel, the Armada española (Spanish Navy) ship Meteoro on station, the first start was for the Multihull and Open Divisions, just as the sun emerged following a cloudy morning. Despite carrying a reef or two, the performance catamarans streamed over the start making 5-6kts, led by all-electric ITA Catamaran 14.99 Nanomole (MLT) skippered by Ulrik Bjerl Nielsen from Denmark.

Up next, a smaller than usual ARC Racing fleet battled the swell on the inshore line and it was a safe and steady start with many days of ocean sailing ahead. Harmony 52 Sao Jorge (GBR) edged out a lead to cross the line first, followed by Beneteau First 53 Firstlady (DEU), and the smaller Beneteau 40.7 Escapado (GBR) following in third. Sao Jorge and Escapado are both charter boats from the British based Sail Racing Academy, carrying guest crews with a professional skipper and mate onboard.

It was a spectacular sight as white sails of over 100 yachts in the Cruising Division peppered the blue horizon of the harbour of Las Palmas at 13:00. Anthony Auger’s Oyster 665 Patience of London (GBR) was at the front of the fleet, with the steady winds already propelling them towards Saint Lucia.

As the fleet leave Gran Canaria in their wake, a classic trade wind sail is forecast as the boats head south before they turn to point theirs bows to IGY Rodney Bay Marina. From the youngest crew, aged just two years old, to the oldest skipper at over 80, the ARC sailors coming from 35 different nations will soon adapt to life on the ocean waves after a rush of pre-departure preparations. All ARC boats are fitted with YB Tracking satellite trackers, allowing family and friends to follow the fleet from the comfort of home via the ARC website or YB Races App.

The departure of the ARC fleet sailing directly to Saint Lucia today means a combined total of 234 yachts are crossing the Atlantic under the ARC banner in November 2022. The ARC+ fleet of 91 yachts departed Mindelo, Cape Verde for their second leg of their crossing last Friday, bound for Camper and Nicholson’s Port Louis Marina in Grenada. A further 43 yachts will join the second edition of ARC January, setting sail in the new year, in a third Atlantic crossing rally organised by World Cruising Club, sailing from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia.

Published in Cruising

ARC+ 2022, World Cruising Club’s two-stage transatlantic rally to Grenada, set sail today, 6 November, from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with 90 boats spirited away by the gentle tradewinds bound for Mindelo Marina, Cape Verde, for the first leg of their ocean adventure. Over 400 crew are taking part in this year’s rally onboard boats large and small, old and new, and each felt a mix of excitement and anticipation as their ocean crossing began.

With a full programme of preparations running since 26 October in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the crews of 69 monohulls, 20 multihulls and 1 motoryacht have got to know each other well prior to departure. “With seminars on weather routing under our belt and a smattering of celestial navigation, as well as important pointers on rigging and provisioning, it has been so worthwhile being part of the ARC+.” said South Africans Darrol and Kathy Martin and the crew of Disa (GBR), a 1988 Amel Mango. “We are filled with excitement and trepidation and have been saying goodbye to the good friends we have made on Pontoon K. We cannot wait to have the wind in our sails and be heading south to Cape Verde in our beautiful old boat, Disa.”

On the docks of Las Palmas Marina this morning, lines were slipped and the marina slowly emptied as the diverse fleet headed out to the starting area off the Avenue Maritima on Gran Canaria’s north-east coast. From the smallest boat on the ARC+ 2022 start line, Ciel Bleu (GBR), a Fountaine Pajot Maldives 32, to the biggest Oyster 675 Alika (GBR), it is the largest and most diverse fleet to be leaving Las Palmas de Gran Canaria since the event began in 2013. Celebrating its 10th edition this year, the two-stage Atlantic crossing has once again proved popular with adventurous families, with 36 children sailing on 18 different boats, the youngest being Herman Habenicht on Ballerina (SWE), aged just three years old. The youngest skipper, Ronja Dörnfeld, is aged 25 and one of four female skippers to set off on ARC+ 2022 today.

First to start, 20 yachts in the rally’s Multihull Division got into position for the signal at 12:45 local time. Balance3 (FIN) a Lagoon 42-2 skippered by Pasi Heiskanen with his family on board was first over the line, followed by Indrek Prants' Lagoon 50 Sirocco (EST), another family boat, then Hanuman (USA) a Catana 53 skippered by Steve May. Following their rockstar exit from the Marina with music and costumes, Piment Rouge (FRA) Pierre De Saint-Vincent's Outremer 51 sailed close to the Aduanas Patrol Vessel Condor used by Rally Control for the start to get the offshore edge out of the harbour and was soon leading the fleet on the 865nm first leg to Mindelo, Cape Verde.

Then came the turn of Cruising and Open Divisions, a total of 70 boats. On point to cross the line first were the all-Italian crew of Azuree 46 Enalia (ITA), skippered by Alberto Rizzotti followed by Richard Hill’s Mazi 1300 Kirima (GBR). The impressive cruiser-racer Mylius 60 Fra Diavolo (ITA) with Vincenzo Addessi and crew showed its regatta racing pedigree and cross the line in 3rd place.

The ARC+ fleet is now on their way to Mindelo, on 865NM to the southwest of Gran Canaria. The weather forecast suggests north-easterly trade winds building through the passage enabling the boats to make good mileage, and the majority of the fleet are expected to arrive at Mindelo Marina, in Cape Verde on Friday, 11 and Saturday, 12 November.

ARC and ARC Route Map Courtesy World Cruising ClubARC and ARC Route Map Courtesy World Cruising Club

The latest YB Tracking Satellite trackers have been fitted on board each boat, allowing family and friends to follow the fleet from the comfort of their own homes via the online Fleet Viewer. Boats can also send blogs and photos, posted on to the rally website to share life on board.

As the ARC+ fleet left today, the pre-departure programme has only just begun for the crews of the ARC fleet sailing directly to Saint Lucia on 20 November. Before their own start two weeks from today, ARC crews can look forward to a full programme of activities to give them the best possible send off for their own ocean crossing.

Published in Cruising
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A loose grub screw was apparently the reason why a Dutch owner of an X-Yachts X4⁹ experienced rudder failure while taking part in a transatlantic cruising race.

During the ARC January race out of Gran Canaria last month, the rudder stock fell out of the top bearing on the affected vessel.

In addition to the loss of steering, the movement of the rudder stock damaged the GRP tube which encapsulates the bottom bearing and forms a water seal towards the inside of the boat.

The crew contacted X-Yachts Holland via satellite phone for guidance in resolving the issue. They were unsuccessful in their attempts to reinsert the rudder stock not the top bearing and were only able to partially secure the top in position.

While they managed to steady the water ingress to a level where the bilge pump could keep up, the crew feared a worsening situation and the next day chose to evacuate the boat and board two other yachts which were attending the race.

Two days after the evacuation, the boat’s insurance company entered with a salvage company who found the boat afloat four days later via its tracker. The generator had stopped but the bilge pump was running and the water level in the boat was still below floorboard level.

The salvage crew got the rudder stock in place and secured in the top rudder bearing relatively quickly, and they had the leak repaired and the water pumped out, after which they could tow the boat towards Gran Canaria some 1,400 nautical miles away.

X-Yachts’ director of design and engineering Thomas Mielec, was ready to meet the boat in Gran Canaria and along with the salvage company and insurance company began a joint effort to identify the cause of the damage.

Diagram showing the structure of the rudder stock on the X4⁹Diagram showing the structure of the rudder stock on the X4⁹

“The crew from the boat took photos and video in their attempt to repair the rudder, and it appeared that the top bearing had separated, and the rudder stock had dropped down,” Mielec said.

“The rudder bearing union nut, which holds the bearing together, had simply turned off the thread at the bottom of the inner housing, and this meant that the rudder and rudder stock, which are otherwise fixed in the bearing, had dropped downwards and out of the bearing.

”This happened even though the locking screw was in place in the union nut, and that with only one impression mark, ie without traces or burrs, which could indicate that the union nut had been turned off with the locking screw engaged. The other parts of the bearing showed no signs of overload prior to the incident in general.”

X-Yachts says it is still too early to draw a conclusion of the definitive cause of the damage, but Mielec suggests two possible scenarios based on the facts and observations found, with the second assessed as most likely:

  1. If it is established that there is no trace of Loctite on the locking screw, one possible scenario is that, in error, the locking screw was never secured with Loctite during manufacture of the bearing, and that the screw, without being noticed, had loosened over a period of two years, permitting the nut to also unscrew over time.
  2. If tests show that there were traces of Loctite in an expected amount on the locking screw, the cause could be that the safety screw had been removed/loosened by mistake during service work, which was carried out in Spain in November.

X-Yachts notes that the locking screw in question is only intended to be operated during the manufacturing of the bearing itself, and it is not necessary/permitted to touch during either assembly or possibly disassembly of the rudder in the yacht.

Published in X-Yachts GB & IRL
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