ARC Communications Director, Jeremy Wyatt casts his eye over the fleet of almost 300 boats in this year’s Atlantic Rally for Cruisers.
I am often asked “What is a typical ARC boat
?” and I have to admit that this is not an easy question to answer. If we look at ARC 2019 boats built within the current decade, which make up 44% of the fleet, around 34% of these are multihulls – they have an average age of 3 years and length of 15.20m, whereas the monohulls have an average age of 4 years and a length of 16m. When compared to boats built in the previous decade – 2001 to 2010, we see just 8% of the boats are multies, average LOA of 14.40m, whereas the monos in this group average 14.50m long. Perhaps a more telling statistic is that most popular builder in the ‘00 group is Beneteau with 23 hulls (24% of the group), but in the newer group it is Lagoon that takes the crown with 17 hulls (14% of the boats). We can say that the trend towards cruising with multihulls continues in this year’s rally, with multies making up just under 20% of the fleet overall. However, of newer boats (those less than 18 months old) this year, multies make up 49% of the group! Within this there are also 4 trimarans, led by the increasingly popular French built Neel tris, which are developing a new niche in the cruising yacht world.
Radical now becoming mainstream
Composite hulls, trimarans, and Open 60’s – these were technologies and boat designs at the forefront of ocean racing into the 21st century. Now we see these technologies being applied to the evolution of cruising boats. The Neel trimaran offers an unusual layout that combines the performance of a tri with the spacious deck layout of a catamaran. Buyers seem to like them, with 3 in the ARC this year. The awesome Pogos have carved a unique niche as high performance racer-cruisers. What their Spartan interiors lack in creature-comforts, their lightweight and powerful sailplan – think “baby Open 60” - make up for in fast ‘n furious speeds in a compact package. Less compact, but no less fast, are the Marsaudon Composites light displacement fast cruising catamarans – the TS range, of which there are 3 in the fleet. At 15.6m long, and displacing just 8.6 tons these carbon flyers come from a yard with a pedigree in making cutting-edge multihull ocean racers, such as Prince de Bretagne
, which won the Route du Rhum in 2010. Leading the pack into the Caribbean this year should be the impressive Allegra
, a Nigel Irens designed high-performance luxury catamaran. The brief for Nigel Irens Design was to create a 24m (78ft) catamaran that would genuinely out-perform quite seriously refined and longer single-hulled yachts on all points of sailing, while nevertheless retaining the comfort of a fully fitted out cruiser. After an aborted start in ARC 2016, Allegra is back and keen to prove what she can do.
Never too old to be an offshore cruiser
Age is no bar to sailing, at least if you have the right boat. With a superb pedigree of building bluewater cruisers, Amel have a loyal following around the world. Falema
, an Amel Fango, is at 10m long one the two smallest boats in the ARC this year. However, with her hull lines a lineal ancestor of the much loved Amel Super Maramu, she is a pocket cruiser with real salt-water in her veins and proof that you can cruise on a budget 30 year old boat. This year, the title of “grand old lady” of the fleet is shared by two classic designs from the Finnish Nautor yard, both from 1973: the Swan 48 Montana
; and the Swan 65 Vahine
, an ARC regular. Neverland,
an Allied Princess from 1976, is a long-keel 36’ ketch, from the days when this was the most boat that a cruising couple could handle alone. Our history lesson continues with more examples from yards with a long cruising yacht pedigree: Escapade of Plymouth
is a 1977 Hallberg-Rassy 41, a Swedish classic; and Songster
, an Oyster 39 from 1979.
A boat for everyone
As with every year, the ARC spans a wide range boats and budgets, from the Elan 340 Boomerang at one end through to the 32m “super-yacht” Ulisse at the other extreme. The median age of the boats is 10 years, and the size is 14.40m (47ft). There are hulls built from GRP, aluminium, steel, composite carbon and wood. There are monos, cats and tris; sloop, cutter and yes, still a few ketch rigs. There are lifting keels, fin keels, long keels and dagger-boards. Oh, and even one boat with no sails at all, a Lagoon 630 power cat.
So, back to the initial question, can we identify a typical ARC boat? Not really, when you consider that there are almost 70 different boat builders represented in the fleet. What we can say is that every boat is different, every cruiser’s aspiration and budget is different, and there seems to be a boat to match each one of them.