In gentle easterly breezes of circa 12 knots, 21 boat crossed the start line in Las Perlas, Panama, heading westward to the Galapagos Islands. The World ARC 2023-24 fleet will take just short of a week to sail 850 NM where they will make landfall in San Cristobal. 4 boats remain in Panama City awaiting deliveries and maintenance; however, they hope to depart in the next day in order to catch up with the fleet’s arrival early next week.
The Pearl Islands archipelago consists of over 200 islands and islets, mostly uninhabited. The largest of the islands is Isla Del Rey, but Contadora has been the main base for the fleet where they anchored off Cacique Beach. With over 13 beautiful white sand beaches on the island there has been plenty of opportunities for participants to enjoy excellent snorkelling and take in the well-preserved nature and marine life on Contadora.
During their time in Las Perlas, and as part of the World ARC programme, the fleet gathered on Cacique Beach on Monday evening just before sundown where drinks were served at the Mary & Ora beach bar. The evening kicked off with the all awaited results being announced for Leg 2 - Colombia to Panama. As the sun set and everyone was seated around tables specially arranged on the beach the winners were called up to receive their prizes. The Multihull Hull class was won by Eric and Young on their Outremer 51, Leviathan. Coming in second place was family boat Pachamama who crossed the finish line in San Blass just 4 hours behind the winners.
The applause continued as the results of the Cruising Division, Class B, were announced. Third place went to double handed, Saphir af Sweden. Skippered by Luc Lalonde, second place went to Hallberg-Rassy 46, Solana V. Winner of class B went to Renegade, a Hylas 54 who completed the Leg in 1 day, 16 minutes and 16 seconds (after corrected time).
Winners of Class A in the Cruising Division was won by newly acquired Sara of Sweden. Following hot on their heels was Dufour 52, Salt, coming in just 20 minuets later. Third place went to family boat Blue Sunshine. Many congratulations to all the fleet for completing Leg 2 of World ARC 2023-24.
The awards ended with a unique prize. The idea of a perpetual trophy was first born y the World ARC fleet of 2019. It was thought to be such a special idea that the tradition is now firmly set. The trophy is a Blue Jacket which is firstly awarded by the yellow shirts in Las Perlas to a boat who they decide deserves recognition. This year the team chose Sara of Sweden. Many followers of the ARC rallies will know them well and have been following their challenges. Having been dismasted half way across the Atlantic during the ARC 2022 rally, they were set to join World ARC in January. In the space of less than 1 month, the Wennberg family managed to locate and purchase a new boat and joined the fleet in Santa Marta. In recognition of their triumph over adversity they were awarded the World ARC 2023-24 Blue Jacket. As custodians of the jacket only until the next Leg, it is now up to Sara of Sweden to decide on a category and winner within the fleet which will be awarded at the next prizegiving in Galapagos.
The evening continued with a delicious BBQ feast served on the beach enjoyed by all.
Entering Galapagos in a yacht is quite a challenge. With many years’ experience, World Cruising have been working hard in the background for several months to prepare the fleet for their entry. Prior to their departure in Contadora, a full and informative briefing took place where skippers are advised on how to enter the islands and what to expect from the comprehensive check in process. There will be no less than 11 local authorities inspecting their boats so there is lots to adhere too and prepare for their arrival. One check in, the process is worth it as Galapagos is one of the most eagerly awaited places everyone wants to visit. And with good reason.
With the canal far in their minds the fleet point their bows westward to discover the big blue span of the Pacific Ocean. See you in Galapagos!