Saint Lucia woke to cloudy skies this morning but this did not dampen spirits in Rodney Bay for the start of World ARC 2021-2022. With an easterly breeze of around 14kts in the bay and calm waters the boats departed leg 1 of their circumnavigation from Saint Lucia to Panama today, Saturday 9 January 2021, at 1200 hours.
With full admiration, a flotilla of well-wishers congregated outside the Saint Lucia Yacht Club to bid the intrepid World ARC crews farewell. Led by the IGY Rodney Bay marina RIB, the fleet were followed by well over 10 boats made up of crews from the Yacht Club, local supporters and those who have just completed ARC 2020. Thank you to all those supporters for making such big efforts to create a fabulous atmosphere and provide the fleet with a tremendous and well deserved send off.
This year’s fleet includes boats and crew from the UK, France, USA, Argentina and Brazil and features three family boats. Kaizen is an Oyster 49 and is owned and skippered by Kean Chung. Kean is joined by his wife Nyree and two children, Kyla aged 11 and Kaeden aged 7. The Chung family purchased Kaizen in 2017 and have since taken part in ARC 2020. Taking considerable time and efforts to prepare for their adventure ahead they will be starting the rally from the Grenadines and look forward to meeting up with the rest of the fleet on route to Panama.
Another Oyster and family boat, Pearl, joins the fleet in Panama and they too are looking forward to meeting the rest of the fleet. Michael and Yhaira are sailing with their children Lauren aged 8 and Lillian who turns 11 tomorrow. They have enjoyed a year sailing around the Caribbean and are keen to continue their adventures and are especially looking forward to seeing the Galapagos Islands and Pacific Islands beyond.
The third family boat is a USA flagged Fountain Pajot 59 named Ohana. Recently purchased, Roberto and his wife Corina start their adventures on board Ohana with 6 children! We welcome Maria aged 15, Lourdes aged 13, Mercedes aged 11, Roby aged 9, Milagros aged 6 and Candelaria who celebrates her 4th birthday next week.
In-line with local COVID restrictions the General Manager of IGY Rodney Bay Marina, Sean Devaux, along with Marketing Manager Shane Macauldy and Chairman of the ARC Committee in Saint Lucia Anthony Bergasse hosted a small gathering in the local bar and restaurant La Mesa to officially welcome and congratulate the World ARC fleet. In addition to this special arrangements were made for the boat in quarantine to hold a socially distanced meet and greet on the pontoon giving crews the chance to say hello in person. Having spoken to each on several occasions in the past few months over Zoom, skipper Henry Gazay on Eldorado said “it’s great to be able to finally meet you all.”
For Henry, the start today sees the culmination of ambitions he has had for over a decade to sail in the World ARC to achieve his boyhood dream of crossing the Pacific. Henry said “While this year is a smaller fleet than usual I am honoured to be part of this group heading off on this circumnavigation. It is not only the tenacity of the participants, but also organisers that should be congratulated to keep the event going against such odds.”
The next stop is the Caribbean side of Panama where the fleet will gather prior to their transit through the Canal. Completing their Canal preparations in Shelter Bay Marina the marina staff look forward to welcoming and offering their continued support to this year’s World ARC.
Planning and organising events in the current climate takes a lot of understanding and ingenuity. The World Cruising Club would like to specially thank Sean Devaux and his team at IGY Rodney Bay Marina for their continued support and enthusiasm to ensure this year’s rally began smoothly. We would also like to thank Robin on Shaddow for providing the start line boat and all the well-wishers who turned out for the start.
Managing Director of World Cruising Club, Andrew Bishop, remarked "after what was a challenging year it is great to see World ARC 2021 depart from Saint Lucia today as planned, albeit with a much reduced fleet converging in Panama ready for their canal transit. This epic group of determined circumnavigators plan to get as far as they can into the Pacific with our help and guidance, and dependent on smaller Pacific island nations opening their borders as the year progresses. We are proud to be helping them achieve their dream of starting their circumnavigation despite all the challenges that lay ahead".
The World ARC events team fly ahead to Panama next week to make preparations for the incoming fleet which after a sail of a little over 1100nm they will be expected to start making landfall around 15 January.