On Sunday 3 December Saint Lucia joyously welcomed the first arrival of the 2017 ARC fleet, TS42 Guyader Gastronomie after a 2900NM passage from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Crossing the finish line at 19:25:03 local time, the crew on board were in great spirits having enjoyed their 14 days at sea and received a fitting welcome as the first boat of the ARC fleet to reach the docks of Rodney Bay Marina.
The French-Belgian crew of the Marsaudon Composites designed performance catamaran were thrilled to lead the ARC fleet into Rodney Bay. They were congratulated on the dockside by ARC Rally Control, together with IGY Rodney Bay Marina General Manager Sean Deveaux, Sean Compton of the Saint Lucia Tourist Authority, Thomas Leonce CEO of Events Saint Lucia and a host of well-wishers from the ARC+ arrivals. As their lines were made fast on the dock, the Events Saint Lucia team were delighted to provide the crew with a glass of ice-cold Saint Lucian style rum punch as the steel pan band struck up a special musical welcome. The yacht’s 4-man crew have enjoyed a decadent menu during their crossing thanks to owner Christian’s luxury catering business, Guyader Gastronomie. To mark their arrival, a special feast had been prepared on board and the crew graciously invited the welcoming committee to celebrate with them.
Having completed some brief interviews and photographs, the crew reported that their crossing had been successful, with no major damage. They focused on sailing tactically rather than pushing the boat too hard, and the crew had clearly enjoyed their experience at sea on the beautiful yacht.
Their closest rival, Outremer Light 64 Saudade
followed them across the ARC finish line some 6 hours behind – a remarkably close finish after almost 3000NM of ocean sailing. At 19.5m, Saudade
is the largest multihull of the ARC fleet, and sailed by previous line honours winner Christof Petter and a crew of Olympians and Volvo Ocean Race veterans. Guyader Gastronomie
have been battling one another throughout the crossing, weaving a rhumb line route through challenging weather patterns which have included some strong headwinds and light airs providing a few tactical dilemmas throughout their two weeks at sea. In the end, Guyader Gastronomie
eased out a lead by heading south, a call made by Belgian skipper Bart Vanhaverbeke, and the gamble paid off as they benefited from good winds to guide them north to Saint Lucia to claim Line Honours. With handicaps and motoring hours still to be taken in to account before the final results are confirmed, the rivalry for the division win is still set to be decided with an anxious wait until the ARC Prize Giving.
By lunchtime on Monday 4th December, the ARCs quick catamarans were also joined by arrival of the first monohull from the direct fleet, Swan 66 Enigma VIII
. The 8 man crew, led by Norwegian skipper Per Arne Nilsen, were delighted to reach Rodney Bay and ready to celebrate ashore with the ARC+ crews to keep them company.
Following the first arrivals from the ARC fleet, only a handful of yachts from ARC+ are left to arrive ahead of Wednesday’s Prize Giving Ceremony at Pigeon Island National Park. ARC+ crews have particularly enjoyed seeing one another again and it’s evident from the buzz around the bars and cafes of the marina that plenty of firm friendships have been formed within the fleet. Crews are now chilling out and enjoying a little Caribbean sunshine (interspersed with the occasional warm tropical rain squall) and have been taking advantage of tips to explore the island from the Saint Lucia Tourist Authority.