After a false start and over 25 days since the official ARC 2011 start in Las Palmas, Pied a Mer, a Belgian-flagged Elan Impression, has crossed the finish line in St. Lucia. And just in time for tonight's festivities.
Pied a Mer was welcomed earlier this morning as they rounded Pigeon Island and the finish line hove into view, some 2,800 miles since leaving the Canaries. They were greeted to a warm welcome on the dock, and the traditional rum punch and Heineken on arrival, provided by the St. Lucia Tourism Board and their tireless staff.
Following a host of problems which delayed them in Las Palmas, Pied a Mer finally got to sea some five days after the official start gun went off. They didn't miss the spectacle, however, and managed to watch the fleet sail away. Thanks to their late start, their crossing time was 21 days.
"So we're not last!?" the crew shouted as they tied up alongside in Rodney Bay Marina. Indeed they were not. Four boats remain at sea, two of which - Annie and Integrity - are approaching the 26-day mark. The two others - Porto Santo and Minaxi - had either started late or diverted en route.
Pied a Mer, meanwhile, has arrived just in time for tonight's festivities on Pigeon Island. The ARC Costume Party has become an annual event. Fancy Dress events are a big part of the ARC programme - the pre-departure costume party in Las Palmas is always a huge hit - and the event on the antepenultimate evening in St. Lucia is always a blast.
In 2009, ARC staff dressed as Christmas presents, recycling some old boxes from the local grocery store and had a heck of a time doing it.
The party, which starts at 1800 on the beach at Pigeon Island, only a short taxi ride away from Rodney Bay Marina, inevitably gets rowdy as the clock ticks on into the evening. Live music and limbo dancing are a sure bet. Hot food and cold beverages are for sale. Partygoers who go the distance can rest assured that they have a day off tomorrow on the ARC programme before Saturday's prizegiving at Gaiety Nightclub.