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A Classic Start for the Largest-Ever ARC+ Cruising Rally Fleet

5th November 2023
95 yachts depart Las Palmas de Gran Canaria bound for Cape Verde on leg 1 of the ARC+ transatlantic rally
95 yachts depart Las Palmas de Gran Canaria bound for Cape Verde on leg 1 of the ARC+ transatlantic rally Credit: James Mitchell

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.

Published in Cruising Team

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