The beautiful island of St Maarten plays host once again to the start of ARC Europe. Entries numbers have been full for many months proving the popularity of this rally taking the fleet across the Atlantic west to east. Starting in the northern Caribbean and on to Bermuda, through the Azores towards Europe, finishing in Lagos, Portugal, the fleet will cover a distance of some 3,465 NM over a 7-week period.
31 yachts from over 12 nationalities make up the ARC Europe fleet of 2023. The initial start in St Maarten welcomes 19 yachts with the remaining 12 boats due to join the Rally in Bermuda on 10 May.
Located at IGY Simpson Bay Marina, The World Cruising “yellow shirt” team opened the office today where skippers and their crews received a warm welcome. After checking-in, a formality where crew data and boat information is checked and verified, each boat is visited by an expert safety inspector who run through all equipment onboard. With many of the boats having already participated in a previous World Cruising Club event, check-ins and safety inspections have gone smoothly this year.
Prior to crossing the start line at 12noon on Saturday 6 May, there is an exciting programme of events planned. The entertainment began this evening with drinks and canapes at St Maarten Yacht Club. Overlooking Simpson Bay Lagoon 70 participants and guests enjoyed meeting each other and discussing the journey ahead.
Event Manager, Andrew Pickersgill, said a few words to welcome the fleet and thank the supporters in St Maarten. Special thanks were expressed to IGY Simpson Bay Marina who have not only provided a Rally Office but will also be hosting many of the programme of events during the fleet’s stopover on the island. Additionally, he thanked the Commodore and Committee of the Yacht Club for hosting the evening and allowing the fleet to enjoy their facilities during their stay in Simpson Bay. Great applause was heard across the bar when the “yellow shirt” team were formally introduced, the fleet will be fully supported by the events team on each leg as they cross to Europe.
With a BBQ evening and pizza on the beach to look forward to before the start to Bermuda, ARC Europe participants have a fun few days ahead of them where they can share knowledge and stories from their time spent in the Caribbean.
Whether they are returning home, or for some, just starting out on their journey eastward, the vibes in St Maarten are beginning to increase and the fleet are already enjoying a wonderful start to ARC Europe 2023.