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World ARC Circumnavigation Rally Sets Sail

15th January 2024
The World ARC circumnavigation rally set sail on 13 January from Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia, under bright blue Caribbean skies
The World ARC circumnavigation rally set sail on 13 January from Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia, under bright blue Caribbean skies

The 13th edition of the World ARC circumnavigation rally set sail on 13 January from Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia, under bright blue Caribbean skies.

For the 27 yachts, the first destination is Santa Marta in Columbia, before heading through the Panama Canal and on into the Pacific.

The fleet enjoyed a Force 5 north easterly for the start, with many opting for a reef - there's 26,000 nautical miles to cover over the next 15 months and World ARC isn't a race. Ian and Jacqueline Kirkpatrick's Shipman 63 Fatjax (GBR) was first over the line, followed by Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49 Bahati (GBR) and Sundeer 64 Crazy Horse (USA).

From onboard his Moody 54 Dilema, Tom Ogilvie said: "We were all buzzing as we crossed the line. Pre-start tension behind us and a good breeze in the sails - long may it continue!".

Rally supporters on the water to wave off friends and family included Saint Lucia's Minister of Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information, the Honourable Dr Ernest Hilaire, who spoke to the fleet via VHF radio: "You're looking fantastic out there. I want to say a special thank you to everyone. I wish I could be in your rally, but someone has to be here to welcome you back in 2025!"

Lane Jacobs, owner of Bristol 57 Corsair (USA), sums up the aspirations of many sailors: "I've wanted to sail around the world since 1976, and its taken me almost 50 years to learn to sail, save the money, get the right boat and find the time to do it. I can't tell you how happy I am to be here at last for the start of World ARC".

The first arrivals are expected in Santa Marta, Colombia on the evening of Tuesday 16 January. One-off Roger Hill Yacht Design catamaran Nica (DEU) is leading the fleet, followed by Oyster 62 Skyelark 2 (GBR). The forecast is for strong trade winds, and all boats are making good time on the 815 nautical mile passage.

From Santa Marta the fleet will explore the San Blas Islands of Panama, before a Panama Canal transit in February and on into the Pacific to Galapagos, French Polynesia and Oceania.

Helmut and Babsi Lexen are joining World ARC for a second circumnavigation, this time in their new Nautitech 482 Freya (DEU). "This is the second time we've done World ARC. We love it so much, particularly the camaraderie among the sailors. Our favorite destination, which we can't wait to return to, is Fakarava in French Polynesia".

A total of 37 yachts will take part in the rally over the next 15 months as it sails around the world, with the option of breaking the rally half way in Australia or Indonesia to extend the adventure with independent exploration. 14 yachts will leave the rally in Australia or Indonesia with another 11 joining, the majority of which took part in World ARC 2023.

19 of the yachts starting from Saint Lucia sailed with World Cruising Club across the Atlantic, crossing with the 2022 or 2023 editions of the ARC and ARC Plus rallies.

In the week before the start, the crews assembled in Rodney Bay Marina for safety checks, routeing and weather seminars, and the social events that build the friendships and camaraderie that define the rally. World Cruising Club Managing Director, Paul Tetlow said: "We have an enthusiastic and well-prepared group of sailors, and the World Cruising Club team are looking forward to supporting them of their adventure of a lifetime.

"It's been a wonderful week in Saint Lucia. We couldn't have asked for a better destination to launch the World ARC rally, and we thank the team at IGY Rodney Bay Marina and Saint Lucia Tourism for their marvellous support".

Late starters for leg one include Axonite (NLD), Abide (GBR) and Crazy Horse (USA), all of which are expected to be underway in the next day. Esperanza (USA) will join the fleet in Santa Marta.

Sixteen yachts are already signed-up for the next edition of World ARC, which will set sail from the Caribbean in January 2025.

Published in Cruising Team

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