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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.

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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.

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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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For the first time, Gran Canaria bid farewell to an ARC fleet in the new year as ARC January 2022 set sail from Las Palmas today, Sunday 9 January. The new route has brought together an eclectic fleet of cruising yachts and eager crews excited to embark on a 2,700nm tradewind sail to the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.

From the smallest yacht Freeway of Penpol, a Freedom 35 returning to an ARC start line 30 years after its Atlantic crossing with ARC 1992, to the largest yacht Oyster 745 Kalia, one of the newest boats in the fleet launched in 2021, the skyline off the port of Las Palmas was peppered with white sails of boats of all shapes and sizes.

From onboard the Committee Vessel, the first countdown began for the Multihull Division as a steady wind of 15-18 knots blew from South South-East. Leading the fleet of 10 catamarans, Outremer 55 Belle Ile powered through the startline under the watchful eye of skipper Thomas Lurton and the all-French crew. The British flagged Catana 53 PolePole were second over the line follow by Fountaine Pajot Helia 44 Yakira.

Fifteen minutes later, they were followed by the Cruising Division, featuring 28 yachts taking today's start, riding the ocean swell. Many of the skippers opted to start with reduced sails - a sensible precaution with many miles of ocean sailing ahead. First over the line was Trumpeter, a Contest 44CS owned by recently retired couple Chris and Mandy Carlisle; their ARC represents 15 years of dreaming and 6 months of planning, having moved aboard in June 2021. Kalia, the Swiss-Flagged Oyster 745, was second over the line, followed by Bounty, NEIT and I Neverland.

Now the yachts are at sea, crews will adapt to ocean life and quite a change of pace from the pre-departure rush. As boats get south of Gran Canaria there should be some nice E-NE trades forming, giving a pleasant introduction for their ocean sail. The classic route of 'sailing south until the butter melts' is looking best for the fleet before pointing their bows to the Caribbean, avoiding an uncertain low pressure system developing along the rhumb line. Their progress can followed on the YB Tracking App and Fleet Viewer page of the World Cruising Club website.

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There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ ARC, and 2021 proved again why sailing the same route at the same time of year can produce so many different experiences. The ingredients of the ARC, the boats and nationalities, ambitions and experience, weather and routing when added together, provide each ARC crew with their own, unique Atlantic adventure.

This time last year, the world was hoping that the pandemic was almost passed, yet sadly it has continued to cast a shadow for the 36th ARC. The success of the 2020 edition added greatly to the smooth running of a second ‘Covid ARC’, with the crews admirably overcoming the challenges of preparing for a long-distance sail whilst following protocols and advice. After the crew-bubbles and mass departure testing for crews in the start port of Las Palmas, which caused 3 boats to postpone their participation, it was a fleet of 143 boats that set out from Gran Canaria on 21st November.

A number of Irish boats participated in both the ARC and ARC + rallies, details here.

This year, the weather has been the talking point on the dockside in Saint Lucia; its impact on routing, crew fatigue, boat gear, and sails. Early calms of week one were displaced by strong, persistent trade winds creating an exciting ride across the 3000NM open ocean. For some, who have loved the waves and the thrills of hand steering down big ocean swells, it was an exhilarating journey. For others, it was a more bruising experience with confused seas and waves kicked-up by an unusual cut-off low pressure system to the north of the Azores sending swells south, to encounter this season’s strong NE trade winds.

Regrettably, for the crew of X-Yachts X4.3 Agecanonix, their ARC ended in tragedy when an involuntary gybe in challenging conditions on the northern route, led to the death of crew member Max Delannoy. A sad loss for them, their families, and the whole ARC community of sailors.

Winds and waves were contributing factors that led to the abandonment of a second ARC boat, after Hanse 588 Charlotte Jane III suffered a catastrophic steering failure, 1500NM out from Saint Lucia. Unable to repair their steering, or steer by drogue in the heavy seas, the crew transferred to Oyster 55 Magic Dragon of Dart, one of several ARC yachts that stood by their fellow ralliers overnight. The combined crews arrived into Rodney Bay to a rapturous welcome 9 days later. Subsequently, both Charlotte Jane III and Agecanonix have now been salvaged, once sea conditions permitted.

It was against this background of challenging weather, drama at sea, and emotions ashore that the ARC crews gathered on the dockside of the IGY Rodney Bay Marina, for the annual prizegiving ceremony which marks the close of this year’s ARC. It was a chance to relive the memories of ARC 2021, to celebrate the achievement of all the ARC sailors in crossing 3,000NM of ocean; and to thank the supporters, the many helpers in Gran Canaria and in Saint Lucia, the customs, immigration, and port health officers, and of course the ARC yellow-shirts, who have worked tirelessly to deliver a Covid-secure event.

Local restrictions on public gatherings in Saint Lucia forced a ‘re-imagined’ prizegiving celebration, with the marina docks becoming one big arena, and crews able to join in from the cockpits of their own boats. The 65ft catamaran Flying Ray became the backdrop, with screens and sound system. Party-bags were delivered to all the boats, and crews from other docks were able to buddy-boat and watch the show as well. ARC Event Director Andrew Pickersgill opened the evening, thanking crews for taking part This year has certainly produced its challenges and we would like to thank you all for your participation in ARC 2021. It has also reminded us that despite advances in technology, the sea and this journey across the Atlantic continues to be real challenge. You should all be extremely proud of your achievement”

At the start of awards for boats in the IRC Racing Division, Andrew Pickersgill invited crews to join together and remember Max Delannoy. The minutes silence broken at the end by an emotional spontaneous round of applause for the crew of Agecanonix.

With the whole dock as an arena, winners were invited from their boats to the podium to receive their awards. 12 Nacira 69, owned by Diego Paternò Castello di San Giuliano and Federico Marchi, and skippered for the ARC by Federico Dosso, scooped the Line Honours for first arrival (Racing) and winners of Racing Division overall. ARC regulars, the crew of Salamander were delighted to win Racing Class B. In the Multihull Division, Gwenael Chapalain’s Marsaudon TS5 Guyader Saveol, took first in Class A, and overall, with Marco Knitel’s Excess 11 Bombarda winning Class B. For the Cruising monohulls, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 52.2, Mizar III sailed by Francesco Da Rios took the overall winner’s spot, making it two-out-of-three for Italian sailors.

Assisting in the presentation of the prizes were Sean Deveaux of IGY Rodney Bay Marina, Taddius Antoine, Chairman of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, and Hon Dr Ernest Hilaire, Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information. Each addressed ARC 2021 participants, commending their achievement for crossing the Atlantic and warmly welcomed them to call Saint Lucia 'home.'

The ARC is a cruising rally, and in this spirit, there were awards for categories not related to the competition. Biggest and smallest fish, radio net controllers, oldest and youngest skippers were amongst the many prizes. One of the biggest cheers was for the ARC family boats – 33 young sailors, aged from 3 to 14 sailing on 15 boats this year. Each young sailor received an award to recognise their achievements.

As we have all become used to socialising at a distance, the ARC SSB Radio Net was a hive of activity in 2021 with creating a thriving community. From quizzes to recipe tips, comparing weather and squall activity to fishing brags, those taking part in the Net find it a real highlight in sailing within a fleet of boats. Arriving in Saint Lucia, the ‘Net-Controllers’ all received the warmest of welcomes and there were big cheers at the prizegiving as the hosts put faces to voices and came on stage.

Friends and family following the boats at home have been able to get a flavour of Atlantic sailing from the blogs sent in from the crews during their crossing. Prizes were awarded for the best non-English log to the Chilean crew of Minga and best photos sent in from perennial ARC participant Emily Morgan. For their amusing daily logs, the creative crew of Maalu IV were presented with the Best Overall Logs prize.

The full list of winners and results are on the ARC website here.

Each year, the highlight of the awards evening is the presentation of the converted ‘Spirit of the ARC’ award. Saved for last in the proceedings, this is given to the crew, or crew member, who, through their extraordinary actions, have demonstrated the spirit of what the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers is all about - safer and enjoyable longer distance cruising, in the company of others. To delighted applause, the crew of Magic Dragon of Dart were called on stage to receive this year’s award, recognising their selfless support of Charlotte Jane III.

Wrapping up the evening, World Cruising Club’s Andrew Pickersgill, thanked all the crews for making ARC 2021 such a special event, and praised Saint Lucia for their welcome and support for all the ARC crews. World Cruising Club will be back in Saint Lucia again in late January 2022, with the first edition of the new ARC January route.

Published in Cruising

Conor Haughey of Malahide’s handsome Moody 54DS Hibernian swept into the finish of the ARC 2021 in Grenada this morning to chalk up a notable international success for Ireland. Hibernian - which sailed the longer ARC + course to take in a brief stopover in the Cape Verde Islands - is currently posted as first in the two main cruiser divisions and fourth overall in Mono-Hulls Line Honours, a remarkable achievement in this mega-fleet event.

Other recent placings of Irish boats still at sea include Nautilus (Lagoon 46 catamaran, Brian O’Sullivan, Tralee) 18th OA, Lir (Lagoon 450S, Brendan Cahill, Waterford) 33rd OA, 9th MultihullA, Ruth II (Oyster 625, 32nd OA in ARC Direct, 13th Cruisers A, Viente (Halberg Rassy 40, David Kelly, Waterford) 112th OA in LH, 7th Cruising E.

Race Tracker here 

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About MGM Boats

MGM Boats is one of Ireland's leading boat brokers now operating internationally as well as throughout Ireland. MGM Boats was founded in 1997 by brothers Martin and Gerry Salmon who were previously worked as a carpenter, joiner and glass fibre laminator in the 1980s. Martin progressed to boat retailing in the late 1980s and Gerry was a service manager in the 1990s. From these many years of experience, MGM Boats was founded in 1997. It started out as a service, maintenance and repairs company based in Malahide, Co. Dublin.

The company grew in 1998 when the Aquador dealership was acquired. Starting as they meant to go on, in 2001 MGM became distributors for Jeanneau Motorboats and Yachts and also opened its second office in Belfast. MGM had begun to create what would be an international and acclaimed brokerage company.

In 2003, MGM Boats moved to Dun Laoghaire Harbour, Co. Dublin. The large office space and yard expanded the service department and paved the way for MGM to acquire the dealership for Sunseeker in Ireland in 2003.

From then, MGM built up its brokerage listings and in 2009 it opened its office in Hamble, UK. This has led to many years of MGM being present at all major UK boat shows, and each year growing their presence and listings.

The success of MGM's brokerage listings spread internationally, leading in 2012 to 2 new offices being opened in the Mediterranean - in Villamoura, Portugal and Mallorca, Spain. The now international brand and team throughout these years received many awards for their enterprising spirit, customer service and international presence, including winning Sunseeker Distributor of the Year in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

This also led to a new Irish office being opened in Kinsale, Co. Cork increasing their presence within Ireland as well as abroad.

At A Glance – MGM Boats Agencies

MGM Boats are Irish agents for the following yacht and motorboat manufacturers

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  • Lagoon catamarans
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