The ARC yellowshirts were ready and waiting this morning to welcome an influx of rally participants as the ARC office ‘doors’ opened, signalling the start of a packed two-week ARC 2021 programme here in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
Swade Pickersgill from the ARC check-in team was delighted to see so many skippers and crews here on the first day to register their arrival, collect skippers packs, book safety equipment checks and to receive a full check-in, if they hadn’t already done so online before their arrival.
“We were really pleased to see so many people on the ARC deck this morning to check-in with us and it’s been a great start with around 50 completed so far! It also means everyone will be able to enjoy the full programme of events laid on by World Cruising Club in the days leading up to the start in less than a couple of weeks.”
Although the 70-boat ARC+ fleet departed for Mindelo yesterday afternoon (Sun 7 Nov), the docks soon started to fill up with ARC boats who had timed their arrival accordingly. Some ARC boats have already become familiar with Las Palmas marina and what it has to offer, having arrived several weeks ago in order to have plenty of time to fully prepare.
There will be around 152 boats of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the smallest - the Finnish flagged Maestro 35 ‘Annina’ at 10.75m, to ‘Helena’, the largest - a fully crewed 38m (125’) schooner run by Sail Training Association, but the average LOA this year is 15.90m long (52ft).
One couple excited to check in today was Kim and Geoff from Ballina, Australia who had picked up their brand new Fountaine Pajot Astrea 42 Sidetrack earlier this summer in La Rochelle, France and had decided to join the ARC following a World ARC presentation at Sydney Boat Show. Among the crew of six will be Royal Marine-turned-mariner, Ross Brady who will help sail the new French-built catamaran across the Atlantic as the Australian owners head home after their sailing adventures in the Caribbean and beyond.
Kicking off the social side of the ARC programme are the optional crew suppers, held at the popular Embarcadero restaurant in the marina. With limited numbers available for each night (Tuesday 9, Thursday 11, Monday 15 and Tuesday 16 November), crews can enjoy a delicious menu of local food and drink, plus it’s a chance to meet other crews (suitably social distanced of course!). Note: it is wise to make a booking for these in the ARC shop & information centre as soon as possible. Despite local restrictions due to Covid-19, there are also two big events, not to be missed, including Welcome drinks at Sotovanto Centre where crews will be seated in their groups at the open-air venue, and Farewell drinks with a Caribbean theme at Tao club, a venue close to the marina.
Wednesday sees the start of a comprehensive series of workshops, seminars and Q&A sessions. Some of them are being held live and others online, plus a few where people can come along to meet each other, such as the Double Handed Workshop on Wednesday. On Thursday this week there’s a chance to watch a hi-line transfer at the Air-Sea Helicopter demonstration, followed by Q & A sessions on satellite communications and provisioning on Zoom.
ARC+ Rally update: After a good start yesterday, the crews heading towards Mindelo are experiencing fast passage to the Cape Verde Islands. Despite a couple of boats returning to Gran Canaria, the French multihull Piment Rouge is leading the fleet and is eating up the 865 nautical miles to the finish of the first leg, with a current speed of 10.7kn. The Norwegian Najad 490 Albicilla is also in the leading pack, with the Luca Sabiu’s Italian Pogo 40S2, Flow, closing in.
To follow the ARC+ fleet, go to fleet viewer - or YB App and to keep up with all the news, please visit the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/arcrally/ and Instagram via Twitter @ARCrally.