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The 30th ARC fleet leaves on Sunday, and here in Las Palmas the atmosphere is keen with anticipation writes Irish Transatlantic debutante Frank Quinn.

Crossing for the first time, I'm on a fine UK-registered Nordship 43 DS called Nina, owned by one-time Dublin resident Stephen Cooke. We're six in all: judging by the provisions we've just stowed, it will be a busy schedule of eating and snacking, occasionally interspersed with sailing.

There are more than 200 boats here counting down to the start. It's a well-run event, with daily seminars and a social programme. The chat in the bars is around prep, prep and more prep. T-shirted Raymarine techies are kept well-busy, and the chandler down the road has started a number system for serving.

Just three Irish boats are registered: Alpaire, a Hallberg-Rassy 48 skippered by Des Cummins; Crackerjack, Colum O'Sullivan's Oyster 53; and BAM, Conor Fogerty's HYC-based Sun Fast 3600. Among the smallest boats in the racing fleet, His target is 14-16 days to St Lucia.

ARC fleetA section of the ARC fleet in Las Palmas

Contrary to the popular plan of 'heading south until the butter melts', he intends to head west early. "We plan to ride as far as possible until it gets light," he says, "then head down to pick up the trades." Downwind rig is an A2 (tricolour!), A5 and a Code Zero. Crewing are Louis Bell, Robert Cooper, and Daragh Heagney.

It's Conor's 29th transatlantic. Once in St Lucia the plan is to compete in the Caribbean 600, then return to prep for the solo Fastnet and the Round Ireland two–hander. He points out One and Only, a Polish-registered sistership. "It will be a good race," he says.

Back to Nina, where the creature comforts include water maker, generator and a fine bank of electronics. As I type, vegetables and fruit are arriving so it's time to get busy.

Signing off... you can track Nina and all the Irish boats on the ARC site here

Irish sailor and artist Pete Hogan spent a few days in Las Palmas as the fleet was assembling before departure to Saint Lucia and you can see his watercolours here

Published in Cruising
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The 30th anniversary edition of the ARC sets out on Sunday, 22nd November. Irish sailor and artist Pete Hogan spent a few days in Las Palmas as the fleet was assembling before departure to Saint Lucia in the East Caribbean. Here he describes the fleet in words and watercolours.

The ARC, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers is probably the oldest and best known rally of this type. Started in 1985 by Jimmy Cornell, that dynamo of offshore cruising promotion, it was an event which was forming naturally anyway. Many cruising boats were sailing across the Atlantic at that time of year and so an organisation of them was a natural progression.

Cornell sold the ARC concept a few years back, apparently, (and started a rival rally called Odyssey). The Arc is now run by an operation called World Cruising Club which runs cruising rallies all over the world.

40 Footers

forty footers

Las Palmas is very welcoming to the ARC fleet and the event has spawned a vibrant marine and social industry servicing the yachts. The town has a tourist office adjoining the ARC office. The boatyard was full, the marina was full, extensive chandlery operations plied their trade. The Sailors Bar and harbour side restaurants were buzzing. Agents, sailmakers, fix it men, delivery people, courtesy cars rushed purposefully here and there. Flags declaring participation in the ARC and nationality of crew were proudly flown. Impromptu parties and problem solving sessions, seminars and safety inspections, tee shirt sales and car hire were all doing a great trade. And there were still a few weeks to go before blast off.

Bow View

from the bow

Looking at the participants there is a fine mix of nations with three Irish boats listed this year. In addition I met Liam Kavanagh from Tipperary with his girlfriend on their Welsh 40 footer living the dream and there were several other Irish crew in evidence. There is a huge contingent from Scandinavia with the Swedish flag all over the place. Notable by their absence are the French with only 10 entries, a low number for this fanatical sailing nation.
There is a minimum size indicator from the organisers of 27 ft. but in reality the average size of entry is much longer, perhaps 45 ft. The smallest entry I could find this year was a redoubtable Contessa 32.

50 Footers

fifty footers

The size, quality and style of the typical ARC participant is indicative of the nature of the ARC nowadays. A typical entry is big, has a centre cockpit, full furling sails (usually electric), water maker and extensive battery of electronics, refrigeration and safety equipment. Electric auto pilots seem to have superseded the magic self-steering vanes, I was sad to note.

Scooner n Cat

Schooner and cat

Grand Bleu

Grand Bleu

Hard Men

Hard Men

HR 48

HR 48

There is a huge multihull division with in excess of 35 boats. And all of these would be 50 foot type cats, mainly Lagoon brand. I’m not a fan of these big boxy boats.

Of course you do not have to be in the ARC to sail across the Atlantic on the milk run. The anchorage at Las Palmas was full of the more normal mix of world cruising fleet. As the ARC website says; ‘Most people join a World Cruising Club rally for the security and peace of mind of an organised event; for the camaraderie and friendship of a large group of like-minded people; and for the fun of sailing in a fleet of boats. It’s as much fun for experienced sailors as for those new to ocean sailing.’

Bon Voyage to the participants in the ARC 2015.

Published in Cruising
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Following the launch at the Southampton Boat Show today, World Cruising Club has announced entries are now open for ARC Channel Islands 2016.

More than 50 people gathered at the RYA lounge to learn more about the new rally taking place in August 2016. Run in association with RYA Active Marina, ARC Channel Islands offers a mix of preparation advice and support from a lead boat, combined with a cruise-in-company and social activities ashore.

Premier Marina in Gosport will host the start of ARC Channel Islands 2016 with a welcome supper, safety checks and Skippers Briefing organised before the fleet set sail for the first leg to Cherbourg on Saturday 20 August. Following the full day sail, rally yachts arrive in the French port to celebrate a successful Channel crossing with a welcome reception to share their experiences, and crews will have the following day to explore the town and visit the local market. After the passage to Cherbourg, the distances between stopovers are between 30-50nm as the rally visits Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney; the days are planned to combine pleasant sailing with time to explore ashore and meet up with other crews over a rally meal or sundowner on arrival. The overall route and daily schedule is adaptable for prevailing weather conditions and rally staff will be on hand throughout to deliver the shoreside programme, including an island tour of Guernsey and visit to the WW2 Military Hospital, as well as a ride on the Alderney railway. The fleet will return to Gosport following an overnight sail from Alderney, and conclude the rally with a farewell dinner on Saturday 27 August.

Crews joining ARC Channel Islands will receive the peace of mind of being part of an organised event; enjoying social and sightseeing activities with others in the fleet along with time to independently explore. The entry fee includes all berthing for the duration of the rally, GPS satellite tracking of each yacht, the support of a lead boat and World Cruising Club staff on hand throughout the rally.

Aside from the focus on safety and support, there is a comprehensive social programme encouraging the camaraderie between crews to quickly develop during the rally. RYA membership is included in the entry fee for those not already members and discounts are available for existing RYA members.
Guy Malpas, RYA Yachting Development Manager, said: "The RYA Active Marina scheme aims to help boat owners gain more from their boats, and this rally is an excellent opportunity for both novice and experienced sailors to hone their skills on a challenging but enjoyable passage. We are pleased to be supporting this rally, and hope it is encourages more people to get afloat and use their boats."

Due to space restrictions, ARC Channel Islands is limited to 25 boats and places will be allocated on a 'first come, first served basis'.

Published in Cruising
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#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.

Published in Cruising

#cruisingrally – Three Irish yachts are among over 280 boats and 1400 people, including 25 children aged under 16, will take part in the 28th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, which sets sail on November 24 from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, heading 2700NM across the Atlantic to Saint Lucia.

From Ireland Peter Boylan's Annabella, a Sweden Yacht 45 compete in the cruising division as does the Dufour 34 Shelduck skipperd by Neil Hegarty. A third Irish yacht, Wizard, a Beneteau Oceanis 50 skippered by Brendan Cahill is also  entered.

For the first time in the rally's history, there will be two routes available: 50 boats will sail via the Cape Verdes to Saint Lucia, setting off 2 weeks ahead of the main group taking the direct route.

As always, the ARC fleet represents almost every principle sailing nation. This year so far we have boats registered in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, UK, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, USA and 10 other nations, making 31 in total. ARC crew crossing the Atlantic this year are aged from 22 Months to over 70 years.

Published in Cruising

From the pre-departure programme ensuring crews are relaxed and prepared, to the friendly welcome each boat receives on arrival in Saint Lucia, the unique spirit that surrounds the ARC each year has meant the Rally is firmly on the 'bucket list' for cruising sailors. Since its creation almost 30 years ago, World Cruising Club has built on these key strengths and provides a safe and social event that annually attracts hundreds of cruising boats to cross the Atlantic with the help of their expert organisation.

In 2013, demand to join the ARC has been unprecedented and World Cruising Club have announced the addition of a new route option for the world's most popular cruising rally, to give even more dedicated cruising sailors the chance to join the transatlantic rally of choice and offer a new experience for returning participants keen to expand on their previous crossings. ARC+ Cape Verdes will depart Las Palmas on 10 November, 2 weeks earlier than the traditional start, and feature a 3-5 day stopover in Mindelo, Sao Vincente, before continuing with the trade winds to Saint Lucia. The rally has already proved extremely popular and entries are expected to reach capacity 50 boats in the coming weeks.

The new route retains the pedigree of the ARC whilst offering a new adventure. "We feel like pioneers!" said Gill and Colin Nobbs who quickly signed up their Moody 42 Resolute of Thames to join the first ever ARC+, and many returning crews have welcomed the stopover in the Cape Verdes as a chance to explore somewhere new. The islands are perfectly placed to 'sail south until the butter melts' and an exciting programme of events will be arranged during the stopover to introduce crews to the Cape Verdes culture and scenery. The earlier departure from Las Palmas means that despite the stopover, ARC+ boats are due to arrive in Saint Lucia during the first week of December, allowing time for crews to enjoy the famous welcome celebrations and parties before some extended Caribbean cruising.

Each year, World Cruising Club ensure hundreds of yachts enjoy a safe passage across the Atlantic providing advice and support for skippers and crews from the moment their preparations begin.  ARC participants become a family before the pre-departure schedule even starts; often meeting one another in marinas on the way to the Canaries, where significant discounts are available, or introducing themselves through the radio net, online blogs and dedicated facebook page. The Rally Handbook, available to skippers and crew six months prior to departure, combines cruising and safety knowledge gathered from over quarter of a century of running transocean rallies and the World Cruising Club team, all of whom are passionate sailors, are always happy to talk about any aspect of life at sea at seminars, boat shows and from our offices across Europe, in the USA and Australia.

Published in Cruising
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#ARCrally – Two Irish boat preparing for a trip of a lifetime on the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) have had to delay their plans in Las Palmas but only for 48 hours as gales have postponed the start of the rally for the first time since 1989.

Dun Laoghaire sailor Hugo Karlsson-Smythe together with his family on board the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 39i the just Nuts! will most likely slip their lines on a 4,500 km passage across the Atlantic Ocean from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria to St. Lucia in the Caribbean on Tuesday.

But when Hugo, Annica and children Axel, Louvisa arrive on the other side the voyage is far from over because they intend to sail a little further south to the island of Petit St. Vincent, where on the 8th of January 2013 (and after a brief sixteen year engagement according to Hugo) Annica and Hugo will tie the knot.

The ARC entry list stands at 227 boats, the majority of which are family cruisers, sailed by family and friends on the adventure of a lifetime. Multihulls are again popular, with 19 booked for the crossing.

A second Irish boat, a Dehler 36 Indulgence skippered by Aidan Heffernan is also in the cruising division.

Because of the strong winds ARC Skippers have been offered choice of departure date

It was announced at yesterday's Skippers' Briefing in Las Palmas that the start of the ARC will be delayed for the cruising divisions.

For the first time since 1989, the start of the ARC has been delayed due to predicted high winds.  A low pressure system is predicted to bring winds of 25 knots or more on Sunday night,  making uncomfortable conditions in the wind acceleration zone south of Gran Canaria.

Skippers have been offered two start dates; one as planned on Sunday 25, and one on Tuesday 27 November.

The low pressure system is predicted to bring southerly winds of 25 knots or more, with 35 knots plus in the wind acceleration zone to the south of Gran Canaria. Boats are expected to be in this area for their first night at sea on Sunday night, and whilst not unmanageable, the conditions are likely to be uncomfortable for the majority of the family cruising boats.

The announcement was met by spontaneous applause by the assembled 1250 skippers and crew at the briefing.

Skippers were offered the choice of starts; to take the original start on Sunday 25, or a rescheduled start on Tuesday 27 November.  The majority elected to wait until Tuesday 27, remaining in habour in Las Palmas while the winds blow through.

Stronger winds do provide ideal conditions for the racing fleet, and these boats are expected to take the start on Sunday, as planned.

Published in Cruising

#ARC – The 26th Atlantic Rally for Sailing Cruisers (ARC) finished in fine style on Saturday 17 December with a spectacular prize giving ceremony at the Gaiety Nightclub in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia.  2011 was a vintage ARC, with most boats experiencing fast crossing times - the ARC crossing record almost tumbled after standing unchallenged since 2006.

Classic Crossing

After a downwind start in perfect conditions in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the 217 yachts, including a record-breaking 31 multihulls, headed south and then west across the Atlantic towards Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia.  Classic trade wind conditions provided exciting downwind sailing, with the Franco-Russian team on super-maxi Med Spirit finishing in 11 days and 14 hours; only 9 hours outside the ARC crossing record set by Capricorno (ITA) in 2006.  Following Med Spirit over the line was trimaran Rayon Vert (FRA), Gunboat 66 Phaedo (USA), ex-Whitbread maxi Rothmans (SWE) then Open 40 Vaquita (AUT) - these five boats finishing within 13 days and almost 3 days ahead of the next bunch of finishers.

Most of the fleet experienced a 'wind hole' as they closed Saint Lucia, leaving some boats becalmed and chasing the lightest of breezes or resorting to the motor.  Line honours prizes for boats crossing the line first in their division without motoring were awarded to Med Spirit (FRA), Rayon Vert (FRA), Vaquita (AUT), Hassebas (NED) and Dantés (GER).  The overall Cruising Division prize for calculated results was awarded to Standfast 56 Splendid (NED) skippered by Kees-Jan Baartmans, and vintage Oyster Lightwave 48 Scarlet Oyster (GBR) skippered by Ross Applebey, won the RORC Racing Division.

Spirit of the ARC

While the fastest finishers are always newsworthy, most of the ARC fleet are family cruisers.  The contributions made by a wide range of sailors are recognised during the prize giving, with special awards including the Spirit of the ARC Award.  This was awarded to Stuart Letton and the crew of Time Bandit (GBR) for their enthusiasm for ARC activities and involvement in all aspects of the rally.  Christof Petter and the crew of Vaquita (AUT) won the Eric Jean Trophy for their work in raising awareness for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

There were awards for the youngest skipper, 24 year old Lucy Reynolds on Northern Child (GBR) and the oldest skipper, 78 year old Juan Egido from Peru on Nandina.  The youngest sailor was 5 year old Aksel Skogseth Berg on Perle (NOR).

The most beautiful yacht was voted to be bright orange Gunboat 66 Phaedo (USA) and the prize for oldest was won by 75 year old Cruinneag III (GBR).  The Philip Hitchcock Award for safety was won by Hunny Pot (GBR) for impressing the safety equipment inspectors in Las Palmas.

There were awards for the blogs submitted to the ARC website while the boats were at sea, with 108 boats submitting blogs in 9 different languages; awards for fishing prowess; and prizes for the best wall paintings made in Las Palmas.

Finishers

Of the 217 boats that set off from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on 20 November, 215 crossed the Atlantic successfully (two retired to the Canaries) and 214 crossed the finish line in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia.  Damages were limited to blown sails, a few broken booms and two broken forestays, but all of the damaged boats were able to finish.  The organisers and participants were deeply saddened to learn on 8 December of the sudden death from suspected heart attack of Andrew Nash, who was sailing on Ocean Wanderer.

ARC2011 Prizes

Spirit of the ARC Award: Time Bandit (GBR) Stuart Letton & crew

Eric Jean Trophy for services to humanity and environment:  Vaquita (AUT) Christof Petter

Arch Jean Trophy for contribution to shoreside activities: Chiscos (GBR) John Simpson & crew

Yachting World Trophy for line honours Division I (Cruising):  Dantés (GER) Swan 48

Jimmy Cornell Trophy for overall winner Division I (Cruising):  Splendid (NED) Standfast 56

Line honours Division II (Racing) and winner Class A:  Vaquita (AUT) Akilaria 40

Overall winner Division II (Racing) and winner Class B:  Scarlet Oyster (GBR) Oyster 48

Digicel Trophy for line honours Division VII (Invitation): Hassebas (NED) Shipman 63

Rodney Bay Marina Trophy for winner Division VII (Invitation): Triumph (SWE) Baltic 64

Line Honours Division VIII (Invitation Racing):  Med Spirit (FRA) super-maxi

Overall winner Division VIII (Invitation Racing): One Hull (GBR) Challenge 72

Overall winner Division IV (Multihulls):  Blue Ocean (POL) Lagoon 560

Line Honours Division V (Open):  Rayon Vert (FRA) Lerouge 50 trimaran

Division I (Cruising) Class winners:

Class A - Prime Minister's Trophy:  Gunvør XL (CAN) X-55

Class B - Saint Lucia Tourist Board Trophy:  Chosen One (GBR) Dufour 45e

Class C - Saint Lucia Hotel & Tourism Trophy: Meneldor (NED) Hallberg Rassy 54

Class D - Saint Lucia Ministry of Tourism Trophy:  Capraia III (NOR) Sweden 45

Class E - Gran Canaria Trophy:   Splendid (NED) Standfast 56

Class F - Windward & Leeward Trophy:   Dantés (GER) Swan 48

Class G - Adlard Coles Trophy:  Eagle's Gift (ESP) Swan 42

Class H - Saint Lucia Air & Seaports Authority Trophy: Halcyon of Hebe (GBR) Hylas 44

Published in Cruising
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This year's Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), starting from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on November 20, promises to be one of the biggest ever, as up to 200 crews are planning the 2,700 mile transatlantic crossing to Rodney Bay, St Lucia.
Published in Cruising
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World Cruising Club have announced that from 2014 the World ARC round-the-world sailing rally will become an annual event; starting every January from Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia.

World ARC is currently a biennial event, starting in January and finishing 15 months later. The current event started in January 2010 and the next will start in January 2012.

Demand for Organised Cruising
Joining World ARC provides practical support in port and at sea, the camaraderie of a close group of fellow cruisers, and a structure that provides peace of mind.  Interest in World ARC has increased in the last year, with over 30 boats ready to take part in World ARC 2012.

Demand from sailors for a rally in the 'off' years has lead to the decision to make World ARC an annual event.  This will make it easier for cruisers to sail half the rally, then take a year out to explore on their own, before rejoining the subsequent rally to complete their circumnavigation.  An annual event also enables more people to join the rally.

Who Sails on World ARC?
World ARC is a multicultural event, with participants drawn from all nationalities.  Participants are drawn from many backgrounds: some are taking a sabbatical before returning to work, while others are enjoying retirement.  There are usually family boats sailing with children.

The boats themselves are a cross-section of popular cruising designs, from proven blue-water marques like Hallberg Rassy, Oyster, OVNI and Amel to production cruisers from high volume builders such as Bavaria, Lagoon and Jeanneau.

A Rally with History
World Cruising Club organised the first-ever circumnavigation rally, Europa 92.  Since then, the company has organised seven successful circumnavigations.  The first World ARC was held in 2008-09, and he current edition, World ARC 2010-11, is drawing to a close in the Caribbean after 26,000Nm and 15 months.

World ARC follows a route that makes the most of the Trade Winds and seasonal weather systems, whilst enabling the participants to enjoy some of the most beautiful and remote cruising destinations.  From the first World ARC, World Cruising Club made a decision to follow the classic sailing route around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, avoiding areas of political instability and piracy.

Since 1992, World Cruising Club has enabled over 200 boats and 950 people to realise their dream of sailing safely around the world.

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