Today the World ARC 2023-24 fleet set off from Saint Lucia at 12 noon beginning their adventure of a lifetime following years of dreaming, thinking, planning and preparations. Departing were a fleet of 19 yachts from the 23 strong fleet and their gathering out in Rodney Bay made a great spectacle as the first leg of the 12th edition of World ARC got underway. On the docks before departure, crews wished one another well for the voyage and said their final farewells to the friendly staff of the businesses around IGY Rodney Bay Marina who have helped prepare them for today’s start. World ARC 2023 crews represent different nationalities, ages, motivations, and dynamics, and so in between the serious preparations such as safety checks, seminars and briefings, this week has been about getting to know new cruising friends, who'll be together for the many months ahead.
Over 40 rally supporters gathered to head out to see off the fleet accompanied by local media and the Race Committee onboard the marine police vessel ‘Protector’. The rally crews gathered their lines and made their way out of The Cut towards the starting area in Rodney Bay. As sails were hoisted ahead of the pre-start sequence, the ‘liquid sunshine’ arrived with a squall adding to the steady 15-20knts of breeze forecasted to whisk the fleet away from Saint Lucia’s shores.
Although World ARC is a rally not a race, friendly competition was already evident as Salt (SWE) and Lover of the Light (USA) were over course start as the horn was blown, and it was Mistral of Portsmouth (GBR) officially leading the way across the start line. The rest of the fleet followed in close succession leaving Rodney Bay keeping the Barrel 'O' Beef to starboard and then making their way along the coast down to Castries. On reaching the mark, the fleet gybed away from the Caribbean island which has hosted the start of their adventure raising their downwind sails to make the most of the glorious trade winds.
The start today marks the end of a fantastic programme for the World ARC crews in Saint Lucia. The programme would not be possible without the support of several local organisations. World Cruising Club and the World ARC participants would like to thank the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Events Company Saint Lucia, IGY Rodney Bay Marina and the Saint Lucia Yacht Club for all their generous assistance.
2023 sees a new face at the helm of World Cruising Club with Paul Tetlow formally taking over as Managing Director and he was out on the water in Rodney Bay to bid the World ARC 2023 fleet farewell, “This is an exciting time for this group of sailors as they set off on their next sailing adventure. From our experiences of leading previous World ARCs, we know these participants are assured of some great sailing, some warm welcomes to new countries and some fun and interesting exploration ashore.”
“These are also exciting times for World Cruising Club as we start the New Year with World ARC 2022-23 just leaving Cape Town, South Africa, making its way to Saint Lucia in April, and the ARC January fleet currently in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, preparing for their Atlantic Crossing to arrive in Saint Lucia at the end of January and early February. As one fleet is leaving, others are making their way here to Rodney Bay!”
Next stop for the fleet will be Santa Marta Marina on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The stopover is one of the most popular on the World ARC route, with plenty of good food, exceptional beaches and warm hospitality awaiting their arrival. They can expect good trade wind conditions along the way with occasional and isolated squalls typical of ocean sailing. The boats should start to make landfall from Wednesday 11 January. Those yet to depart from Rodney Bay, FAR, Hoka Hey, Leviathan and Sara of Stockholm hope to be underway shortly and catch up the fleet.