The final evening of the St. Lucia program saw a packed house at the Gaiety Nightclub in Gros Islet Town for the ARC 2011 prizegiving ceremony. The passage this year was a fast one - all boats that did not divert en route made the finish line in time for the festivities. The two still at sea - Minaxi and Porta Santo, who diverted to the Cape Verdes for repairs before restarting - were acknowledged and given a huge round of applause at the outset of the ceremony.
Participants arrived in droves from Rodney Bay Marina on taxi shuttles arranged for the various ARC event during the week, and were greeted with steel drums and rum punch at Gaiety, sponsored by the St. Lucia Tourism Board. After a brief mingle in the garden on a beautiful tropical evening, everyone gathered inside for the beginning of the program.
Part I of included division runner's up and some special awards, including ARC's youngest skipper (Lucy Reynolds, 24 of Northern Child) and oldest skipper (Juan Quierolo, 78 of Nandina), best web logs (the girls on Diamonds are Forever) and the like. Thanks to advancing technology, both internet users at home and participants at sea are able to experience an Atlantic crossing like never before. Thousands of web logs and hundred of photos were submitted online, while several yachts were able to shoot video at sea. One Hull, the Challenge 72 that counted eleven-year-old Ned Geake as a crewmember, shared their video production (which was a school project for Ned) on stage while the ARC children were gathered for a group photo.
The stage was set for the drama of Part II, in which overall winners in each division were announced. Following Part I, a brief intermission was again held outside in the garden, with hors d'ouvres and cocktails distributed by the Gaiety staff. By then, the sun had set and the stars emerged on a crystal clear St. Lucian night. Around eight o'clock, participants were again gathered inside.
Part II began with speeches by several distinguished guests attending the evening, including Louis Lewis, Director of the St. Lucia Tourism Board, Adam Foster, general manager of IGY Rodney Bay Marina and a representative speaking on behalf of the St. Lucia Minister of Tourism. Distinguished guests were later invited on-stage to present several of the awards in Part II.
Vaquita, the Austrian-flagged Akilaria 40, took line honors in the RORC Racing Division as well as the win in RORC Racing Class A. Participants were given a glimpse of what it's like to sail at 20+ knots on a 40-footer, as footage of a movie Vaquita's crew submitted was played on-screen just before their award was presented. Scarlet Oyster took home first in RORC Class B and the Overall in the RORC Racing Division, eclipsing Vaquita on corrected time. One Hull, a Challenge 72, took first place in Invitation Racing.
In the cruising divisions, Blue Oceans took the Multihull Division, Triumph the Invitation Division, and Gunvor XL the Division 1 Class A 1st place.
What's unique about the ARC, however, are the special perpetual prizes, which are saved for the end of the presentation. The ARCH Marez trophy, named for the original founder of Rodney Bay Marina, an American ex-pat who made his home here on St. Lucia following a successful career in the USA working on pacemaker devices, was awarded to the yacht who best helped organize shoreside events. Chiscos received that honor this year, having enthusiastically participated in all aspects of the program both in Las Palmas and St. Lucia, and went above and beyond in organizing events of their own.
The Eric Jean Memorial Trophy is a perpetual trophy honoring the late Eric Jean, a long-time ARC participant and St. Lucian who lost his life in a boating accident years ago. His mother was on-hand to present the award, given to the yacht that best promotes humanity and the environment. This year's award went to the racing yacht Vaquita, for their partnership with the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society. The yacht is named for the vaquita, a small whale found in areas in the Pacific. The WDCS's aim is to preserve the earth's oceans from the top of the food chain - protecting the whale inherently means protecting everything beneath it in the food chain, and thereby protecting the ocean as a whole. Vaquita raced in the ARC in 2010 under a different name - Wesailforthewhale - and was recognized this year for their environmental stewardship.
Finally, the Jimmy Cornell trophy, named for the ARCs founder and given to the Overall Winner on corrected time of Division 1, went to the Dutch-flagged Standfast 56 Splendid, who also took home top honors in Division 1 Class E.
Following the ceremony, participants were again encouraged to enjoy the evening outside. Live local music played into the evening and vendors were on-hand serving cocktails and food in a decidedly festive atmosphere. Full results from this year's ARC will be posted shortly outside the ARC office in Rodney Bay Marina and online.