Start Day dawned with clear blue skies and a light breeze. Perfect weather! It is always sad to be leaving the charming and stunningly beautiful island of Bermuda and especially St. George’s Town, but even more so when the sun is shining as it was for today's start of ARC Europe! Boats made their final preparations around 1000 ready for the start at 1100 local time. Due to the inclement weather earlier in the week all the boats were either at anchor or on the Town Quay dock so it was an easy task to make their way to the starting area.
Meanwhile it's a non-competitive leg for the ARC USA fleet making their way to East Coast and some of the boats departed yesterday and some early this morning to get a head start on the 650NM trip. Vela was the first through the cut, and the team and participants wished them a Happy 30th Anniversary as they sailed past! They were quickly followed by Altair and Tianelle.
Initially, two boats, Maria Concordia
, were going to have a delayed start, but just before the 5 minute marker, Amanda glided through all sorted! Maria Concordia
are waiting for crew but hopefully they will be following out tomorrow and most likely catch up with the rest of the fleet long before Horta.
There is always a good crowd watching from the Town Cut as the boats set off on their 1800NM trip to the Azores. This year is the first time that we will have a virtual start line with YB as well as the visual. It’s calm in St George’s Harbour and the Cut which means a slightly slower start, but a great photo opportunity to get up close with all the fleet!
At precisely 1100, the competitive Carolina crossed the start line first followed closely by Mad Monkey and then Oyster Blew as they made their way towards the narrow Town Cut channel. Funnelling through two or three abreast, the yachts all made it out of the harbour safely and were soon out into the Atlantic Ocean leaving the turquoise waters of Bermuda behind.
All week, skippers have been comparing notes of their preferred routing plans. The weather forecast for the transatlantic crossing to the Azores is looking set for following winds along the entire route. As is typical at this time of year, low pressure systems coming off North America will bring some periods of stronger winds during the crossing, after an initial period of lighter winds off Bermuda. All in all a good sail across the pond!
Ahead of the fleet lies the Portuguese islands of the Azores, which is another isolated destination best visited by yacht. It will likely take the fleet 12-15 days to reach Horta and their days will be filled with at-sea banter on the SSB Radio Net, whilst friends and family ashore can follow their progress on the event fleet viewer.
The stopover in Bermuda has received great support from the St. Georges Dinghy and Sports Club, Bermuda Yacht Services, Bermuda Radio and Gosling’s rum who all contribute so much year on year to ensure the rally is welcome and their stay is a success.
Safe sailing and best wishes from everyone in Bermuda; enjoy the Atlantic.