Two starts today for Leg 2 of the ARC Europe 2012 from St Georges, Bermuda. The ARC Europe fleet have just set off on Leg 2 of the rally, bound for Horta in the Azores some 1800 miles to the east. With an 10-15 knot southeasterly wind blowing inside the harbour, local conditions were ideal for a fine start through the cut. Crews were well prepared leading up to the start, taking on water and getting their boats off the dock in a very orderly fashion. The St. Georges Dinghy & Sports Club provided the committee boat, the classic Chris-Craft Admiral, piloted by local skipper Irvin Hayward. The start was held inside St. Georges harbor, just to the west of the Club. The gun went off on time at 1300 for Class A, which included the first 16 yachts with the highest handicaps. It was a spectacular view from both the Committee vessel, and from the shoreside. Class B started at 1330 with equally great winds and a very photogenic start through the cut. Crews waved and cheered as they passed the photographers shooting from the media boat and on the shore.
Rally yachts First Edition III and Freedom Found did not make the start, as they remain in port effecting repairs. Both yachts plan to leave Bermuda within the next few days and hope to catch up with the rest of the fleet.
The fleet was led out of Town Cut by the Jeanneau 54 Sookie, owned and skippered by Keith Burridge who showed their racing prowess once more as they flew out of the cut, however yacht Gwawr were first across the line, however eased off as they went through the narrow cut. Second was Zingara followed by Nora Simrad. Miss Carol and Aniara II also had a fine start line and kept up with the leaders as they headed out into open water. Nordic Falcon the Knierim 55 owned by Eckhart Gerlinger, once out of cut, flew passed the leading yachts effortlessly taking the overall lead as they headed to the Azores. The photo above captures Sookie's reaction as Nordic Falcon overtook them with ease. As the wind was funneling into the cut, some boats elected to take the conservative route and motorsail through the narrow passage, before setting their headsails once outside and sailing eastwards out the channel and past the spit buoy.
The fleet will now continue east for 1800 miles as they make for Horta in the Azores. The fastest of the boats should make the island in 10-12 days, while the smaller boats expect to be offshore closer to 20 days. From Horta, the rally shifts gears slightly and will cruise the islands until their departure on 10 June. This will give the crews a much needed respite from the round-the-clock demands of ocean sailing while giving them a chance to experience some of the most unique islands in the world. From the Azores, the fleet will split, with several yachts headed to Lagos, in Portugal, a gateway to the Med, while others will sail north to the UK and beyond.
Folks shoreside can follow the fleet's progress, read the daily logs and get updated news and weather reports here on the ARC Europe homepage.