#cruising – The 28th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) set sail Sunday from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, bound for Saint Lucia. Three Irish boats are part of the massive fleet. A fine NNE breeze provided perfect conditions for a downwind start and a swift departure for the first part of the passage across the Atlantic. In total, 224 boats and 1,204 people, including 26 aged under 16, are sailing in this year's edition of the world's most popular transocean rally.
The first catamaran across the line was Gunboat 62 Zenyatta (USA) the largest multihull in this year's fleet. 24 other multihulls, many with families on board waved farewell to the Vela Latina dock this morning to cross the start line and begin their adventure.
35 boats in this year's the Racing Division were lead across the start line by Gran Soleil 43 Quokka 8 (GBR), closely followed by Oyster Lightwave 48 Scarlet Oyster (GBR), and Knierim 65 Caro (GER). Spinnakers were promptly hoisted as the racers gybed out to seaward and away from sailed the coast of Gran Canaria.
The cruising division is the largest group of ARC yachts, with 161 boats. By their start at 13:00, a large rain squall washed over the boats on the start line, but there will be plenty of sunny trade wind sailing ahead for the next 2,700nm to Saint Lucia.
The weather forecast suggests light to moderate north-easterly trade winds for the first few days, which will mean a relaxed sail south towards the Cape Verdes for the cruisers. A developing low in the mid-Atlantic may encourage some of the racing fleet to try for the northern route in the hope of a faster passage.
The ARC crossing record is 11 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 30 seconds, set by Italian maxi yacht Capricorno (Rinaldo Del Bono), in 2006. Several race boats are hoping to beat this, including Volvo 70 Monster Project, Nautor 78 Idea of London, TP52 Balearia and two Pogo 40s given the right conditions.