The World ARC fleet set off from Saint Lucia at midday today in exciting starting conditions. There was sunshine mixed with some squally conditions, making for an exhilarating sailing start. Wind conditions on the line gave 18-25 knots from the East-North-East making for a fast reach down the North West coast of the island to Castries. The 31 yachts out on the water made a great spectacle as the first leg of this circumnavigation event got underway. Supporters came out to cheer friends across the line from their tenders and some even followed the fleet down to Castries.
The fist yacht across the start line was one of the smallest boats in the fleet, the British flagged Firefly owned by Paul Ellis. This 42ft Humphries Yachting designed boat was once owned by Yachting World Editor Andrew Bray who sailed the ARC in 2001. Firefly glided effortlessly down the coastline before heading West once passed the turning marker off Castries. Second across the line was the Discovery 55 Hebe (GBR) owned by Andrew Lax followed by the X-612 CHIKA-lu (GER) owned by Hubert Hirschfeld. The remainder of the fleet followed in close succession creating an excellent display. Also out on the water were committee vessels carrying local and international press, as well as VIP’s and supporting family and friends.
The whole fleet exited the start line and continued South following the Saint Lucian coastline to a turning mark that was laid off the harbour in Castries. Once at the turning marking the fleet turned to the West to set sails for the San Blas islands off Panama some 1100NM away. The fleet can expect moderate to strong trade wind conditions for their passage to Panama with occasional and isolated squalls.
The start today marks the end of a fantastic programme for the World ARC crews in Saint Lucia. The programme would not be possible without the support of several local organisations and World Cruising Club, and the World ARC participants would like to thank the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, IGY Rodney Bay Marina and the Saint Lucia Yacht Club for all their generous assistance. Without wishing time away, World ARC looks forward to returning to Saint Lucia’s shores at the end of the circumnavigation in April 2015.