Orchestrating the departure of such a high number of boats in a two hour timeframe has it’s challenges, but the fleet left Marina Mindelo without incident and lined up for the start of Leg 2 of ARC+. At 1200 local time, the gun went off and the boats slid between the committee vessel and the breakwater in good wind and good spirits.
Whilst in Cape Verde, participants enjoyed a tour of the island on which they were staying (São Vicente), a couple of evening events (including prizegiving), and many took the ferry to neighbouring island Santo Antão, to experience the phenomenal landscape on the north of the island. Lots of families took a taxi to the beach at São Pedro and enjoyed some time snorkelling with turtles, and others opted for a walk up the road from the marina to simply relax by the pool. However, the most recent few days have been filled with last minute repairs and modifications, and taking on supplies.
After seven days in Mindelo for some, there were many crews anxious to get out sailing again, and the buzz of excitement on the pontoons was palpable. Of course, for others, such as the Victorie 42 ‘Caledonia’, they have had slightly less time to prepare for the next stage of their Atlantic crossing as they arrived in Cape Verde later. ‘Caledonia’ were delayed in their departure from Gran Canaria, and arrived in Mindelo yesterday, leaving themselves with a heroic 28 hours to prepare for Leg 2 of the crossing.
The fleet started slipping lines at 1000, and peeled away from the pontoons one by one to assemble in the starting area. In the build up to the starting gun, the more competitive boats jostled for position on the line, and the less competitive hung back a little, presumably considering that in a 12 day crossing, 200m or so will hopefully not be too significant.
First over the line was 'Kirima', a Maxi 1300 skippered by Richard Hill. They were very closely followed by the formidable Mylius 60 'Fra Diavolo', who rapidly pulled ahead. 'Alize' were close behind, with 'Alexandra', the first family boat across the line, in hot pursuit. 'Sirocco' a Lagoon 50 was the first catamaran through the start. The sight of the entire fleet flying out through the Canal de São Vicente was phenomenal.
With the weather systems settled and the wind forecast moderate to strong for the first part of the crossing, the yachts should make good time and enjoy some good sailing conditions on their way to Grenada.