Marking the final countdown to the start of ARC 2022 on Sunday 20 November, a colourful Opening Ceremony parade was held today in Las Palmas Marina, celebrating the nations taking part in the 37th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. At 11:30, crews from 144 boats representing 35 nations gathered in the southern corner of the marina to parade their country flag around the docks to be raised. Over 800 crew will be sailing on this year’s rally, and the assortment of cultures, languages and ages was keenly apparent in the ocean crossing community as the parade began.
With a spectacular, colourful carnival parade around the whole marina, crews waved their national flags patriotically and got into the spirit of the event. For many this will be their longest ocean passage and for others, it is a regular trip across the pond, but for all, it has been the culmination of a lot of hard work and preparation in the build-up to this great adventure. Today’s Opening Ceremony recognised the crew coming from multiple different nations who are now forged together with a common goal of crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
The international conga line was led by the Banda Guiniguada, with the Batucada Samba Isleña beating a salsa rhythm at the back. Once the procession had completed its parade around the marina, sailors were welcomed to the ARC by World Cruising Club's Andrew Pickersgill. He acknowledged the support of the Tourist Board of Gran Canaria, the Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and the Port Authority who have supported participants as they prepare for departure. “I’m sure you will agree that Las Palmas Marina have been wonderful hosts for the start of your adventure, working hard to accommodate the myriad of yachts in the marina behind me. Whether this will be your first ocean crossing or you have sailed many before, we hope being a part of the 37th ARC is a great adventure for you. We hope the crossing will be a safe and enjoyable experience for you all and can guarantee that on the other side of the Atlantic, on the island of Saint Lucia, a warm Caribbean welcome awaits you.”
Juan Francisco Martin, Commercial Director of the Port Authority of Las Palmas informed the listening crowd that for the start of their adventure, steady tradewinds had been ordered for a smooth departure from Gran Canaria, and wished them a safe and enjoyable ocean crossing.
The flags of 35 nations were raised on poles overlooking the docks which are now filled with a wide range of boats, as eclectic as the crews on board. Around the marina are examples of almost every kind of ocean cruising boat available, with the ARC bringing together one of the most diverse fleets of any sailing event. From the largest yacht, Oyster 885 Karibu (GGY), to the smallest, French-flagged Vancouver 28 Oberoi (FRA), 105 monohulls, 38 Multihulls and 1 motorboat are set to make their departure with the ARC a week from today, on Sunday 20 November. There has been a significant swing towards multihulls once again this year and 35 catamarans and 3 trimarans will be on the start line and perhaps again be the first to reach the rum punch at IGY Rodney Bay Marina.
As start day draws nearer, preparations for the crossing increase in urgency as provisions are stowed, equipment is checked and re-checked, and further crew members fly in daily to join the yachts. The average cruising boat can expect to be at sea for 18 to 21 days and there are plenty of jobs to be done for the boats and crews to undertake the adventures of sailing an ocean. In week two of the programme laid on by rally organisers World Cruising Club to support their preparations, many will take advantage of the free seminars led by some of the most respected cruising sailors and marine specialists in the industry. There are also social events, including the 70’s Disco costume party and the Farewell Drinks at the Real Club Náutico, plus nightly sundowners.
The Start of ARC 2022 will take place on Sunday 20 November. The atmosphere in Las Palmas Marina on the morning of the ARC start is not to be missed. The pontoons are buzzing with anticipation and final farewells as yachts begin to depart around 1100 to a soundtrack of music and calls of ‘Bon Voyage’ as they head out to the starting area. The sea wall alongside the Av. de Canarias (main road south) provides an opportunity to see the starts and watch the boats sail south from onshore, with the Multihulls leading the charge at 12:30, followed by the Racing Division at 12:45, and 13:00 for the largest Cruising Division fleet.