The 2nd leg of ARC Europe 2018 is now underway as 27 boats and just over 100 crew departed beautiful Bermuda bound for Horta, Faial in the Azores. As start day dawned, many or the rally sailors were a little sad to leave Bermuda; the stunning scenery and abundance of friendly people that they have encountered during their stay has made quite an impression and as lines were slipped and the boats made their way into the Atlantic, they have many memories to take with them across the ocean. “It’s been a great stopover here supported by the ARC Europe team and the St George’s Dinghy and Sports Club; they could not have done more to make us welcome and at home.” Said the crew of Firefly as they were departing. “Bermuda is a fantastic and friendly place and we hope to be back sometime.”
The docks of St. Georges Dinghy and Sports Club and the centre of town were a hive of activity as the boats were waved off by Rally Control to head out to the starting area. Lines away and fenders stowed, they proceeded across the bay to the inside of Town Cut. The day before departure, the Skipper’s Briefing outlined the procedure with the start time set for 11:00 and Town Cut clear of ferry traffic for the procession of rally yachts.
At 11:00 from inside St George's Harbour yachts had a staggered start, with Multihulls and Cruising Class A being first across the line, followed by B & C Classes 10 minutes later. This is to allow for a steady flow of boats for the mile or so in the harbour and then out through the Town Cut.
After leading the fleet into Bermuda, it was Devona leading them away as the first boat to cross the line swiftly followed by Lumikki and Spindrift. For the second start, La Capitana timed their arrival at the line perfectly, crossing the signal sounded. Firefly and Himmel were not far behind as they made their way towards the narrow Town Cut channel. Funnelling through two or three abreast, the yachts all made it out of the harbour safely and were soon out into the Atlantic Ocean leaving the turquoise waters of Bermuda behind.
Two yachts, Fanky and Principal Interest, have delayed departure as they await crew members flying in to join the boat, but they plan to be on their way later today or first thing tomorrow and catch the fleet.
A well-established high pressure system is currently haunting the rhumb line to the Azores with a significant area of calm due east of Bermuda. All week, skippers have been comparing notes of their preferred routing plans and many will initially head north in search of breeze. In fact, prior to the rally start the busy harbour of St. Georges had seen an exodus of powerboats, leaving to take advantage of the calm windless seas.
The good news for the rally sailors is that just above the high pressure system are some very favourable air flows and a north easterly course from Bermuda will take the yachts gently into the breeze.
Ahead of them lay the Portuguese islands of the Azores, which is another isolated destination best visited by yacht. It will likely take the fleet 12-14 days to reach Horta and their days will be filled with at-sea banter on the SSB Radio Net, whilst friends and family ashore can follow their progress on the event fleet viewer.
The stopover in Bermuda has received great support from the St. Georges Dinghy and Sports Club, Bermuda Yacht Services, Bermuda Radio and Gosling’s rum who all contribute so much year on year to ensure the rally is welcome and their stay is a success.
Safe sailing and best wishes from everyone in Bermuda; enjoy the Atlantic.