The final countdown is officially on for this year’s ARC+ and ARC rallies with rally flags already flying high in Las Palmas, virtual safety checks completed and World Cruising yellow shirt team eager to be back on the docks for the 36th edition of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers.
For ARC participants, sailing on the direct route from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia, the pre-departure programme will begin on Monday 8th November. Featuring an organised excursion to the ARC Forest, crew suppers, live seminars and Caribbean-themed Farewell Drinks, crews can expect to set off on start day well-prepared and full of the hallmark ARC camaraderie for their 2,700nm to Saint Lucia.
Approximately 150 yachts and 800 crew will be setting off on this year’s rally on 21st November, making it the most popular route across the Atlantic under the World Cruising Club banner. There is once again an eclectic fleet of yachts and a diverse range of crews, representing nations from around the globe.
Providing support for those undertaking their first ocean crossing, World Cruising Club have been supporting preparations with virtual safety checks and rally checkins, in advance of the organised programme getting underway in Las Palmas. The virtual safety checks offer an opportunity for a one-to-one call with a member of the ARC Safety Team, all veteran ocean sailors, who can guide participants through the rally equipment requirements, covering items like liferafts, EPIRBS, and man-overboard equipment as well as discuss preparations, answer questions, and provide support. Checks will still take place in Las Palmas in a COVID-conscious way with the multi-lingual safety team, but virtual checks have been a popular new offering for ARC skippers to seek reassurance earlier.
It is also fellow participants who provide support ahead of the rally programme getting underway as the ARC yachts make their passages to Las Palmas. As John & Susie Simpson, the crew of Discovery 55 Casamara, reported recently, “The ARC boats are starting to congregate in the Canary Islands. We fly flags in our rigging to identify that we are part of the ARC and wherever we see another boat with the flag we introduce ourselves. The fact that John and I are still in contact with friends made on the ARC in 2011 is indicative of the strength of the bonds made throughout this community,” says Susie. “As John and I worked on the boat during the day there were numerous visitors. Some were also heading to Las Palmas for this year’s ARC.”
Around a third of the boats sailing with the ARC this year have taken part in the rally previously, including some familiar faces who cross annually, back and forth with the seasons and prevailing winds. The ARC is part of their regular schedule and they include several charter boats who offer individual berths, whether for mile building and training, a different type of holiday or just for the experience; plus those who charter the whole boat with an experienced skipper and crew.
Other familiar faces to the ARC this year are some returning speed machines who have claimed the prestige of ARC Line Honours in previous years and will be intent once again to try and reach the rum punch first. Eager multihulls such as Banzaï (Marsaudon TS42), Guyader Mext (Marsaudon TS5), and Minimole (Neel 47) will be battling famed sailing legend Jean-Pierre Dick, who returns with The Kid for Ville de Nice (JP54) sailing fully crewed this year, and new challengers such as 23m 12 Nacira 69, an Italian crewed carbon flyer built on a new generation hull derived from the IMOCA 60.
Whether sprinting across in the Racing Division, enjoying a comfortable crossing on a catamaran, or checking off a bucket-list item sailing an ocean double-handed, ARC 2021 is shaping up to be a great adventure and the World Cruising Club team can’t wait to get started!