At 1200 St Lucian local time, 33 yachts crossed the start line of World ARC 2018 in Rodney Bay St Lucia. The start marked the culmination of a week of preparatory activities as the yachts and crews readied themselves for the adventure of a lifetime. Four late starters will follow on their 815 nautical mile passage to Santa Marta in Colombia shortly once last minute minor technical problems have been resolved.
Early morning activity on the pontoons had already given away that today was somewhat different. As crews prepared themselves for departure there were no signs of nerves at the prospect of the long journey around the world which lay ahead, and surprisingly few indications of sore heads from last night's fabulous Farewell Party hosted by the St Lucia Tourism Authority at the Bay Gardens Resort on the beach a short distance from the Marina. At the event, St Lucia's Minister of Tourism, Information and Broadcasting Hon Dominic Fedee bade the participants farewell and emphasised the economic benefits and other significance of their stay in St Lucia. The atmosphere of the party was testament to the strong sense of community that has already formed amongst the Rally's 138 participants.
World Cruising's Operations Director Andy Bristow thanked the Minister for the hospitality of St Lucia and the support provided to to the World ARC Rally by the St Lucia Tourism Authority and Events Company St Lucia.
After the extensive weather briefings provided to skippers and crew earlier in the week, it was probably no surprise that the Start was conducted in heavy intermittent showers. No-one's spirits seemed dampened by the weather and the cheers and whoops of joy finally to be away could be heard across the water as yachts crossed the line. First across the line was Swiss yacht 'Aranui', closely followed by US flagged yachts 'Madrigal' and 'Smoke and Roses'. By the time of the first and only mark of the course, a turning mark situated near Castries Bay, German yacht 'Lunatix' had showed the fleet her turn of speed and was demonstrating a clear determination to make best speed; achieving 9.5 - 10 knots in a perfect easterly breeze of approximately 16 knots with occasional gusts of 20+ kts in showers.
Next stop for the fleet will be Santa Marta Marina in Colombia - some may get there in a little as 5 days, others may take a day or two longer.