Whilst the first of the ARC+ boats are expected to arrive in Mindelo, Cape Verdes on Thursday evening, here in Las Palmas, the start of a busy two-week pre-departure programme for ARC participants is well underway.
The check-in team were all set this morning to meet and greet skippers and crews who were first on the list to register their arrival and keen to receive their ARC skippers bag and welcome packs. The ARC Safety team, headed by Roger Seymour of Hamble School of Yachting were also busy as they began safety checks on all the boats. The World Cruising Club team have a combined experience of 72 Atlantic Crossings, 13 circumnavigations and over a million nautical miles sailed between them and are happy to pass on useful tips and a little of their helpful knowledge to those taking part in this year’s rally, which is also celebrating the 30th anniversary of its finish to the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.
During the next two weeks, ARC Crews can look forward to preparation seminars and social activities, with the rally spirit set to continue to buzz around the docks as the build-up continues towards the final start day on Sunday 24th November.
The boats taking part in the 34th ARC are berthed right in the centre of the busy city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the docks are already filling up and bursting with activity as crews begin to arrive or return to their boats. There’s a hum around the place as sailors from around the world are busy reuniting and preparing before the start. It’s great to see many familiar faces too, and none more so than ARC veteran Manfred Kerstan who is back for his 25th ARC and fourth crossing with his Oyster 825 Albatros - Mr ARC is back!
After checking in with the ARC yellow shirts, their next stop is often the ARC shop where this year, crews can pick up one of the new ARC re-useable cups made from rice paper. Along with a number of ‘green’ initiatives for the rally, these cups have already proved popular among the ARC+ crews. All are encouraged to bring them along to the ARC Sundowner popular drinks gatherings where each crew member receives a couple of complimentary drinks. This evening sees the first of these early-evening soirées and is sponsored by World Cruising Club. They are a great place at the end of a busy day to relax and unwind, meet fellow ARC participants, to exchange ideas and stories of their sailing adventures so far, and get to know like-minded crews.
Tomorrow is another busy day on the ARC programme and includes a tour of the Juan Sebastián Elcano, the Spanish Royal Navy’s four-masted topsail training schooner which is in Las Palmas as part their round the world sail to celebrate 500 years since its first circumnavigation.