The final countdown is officially on for this year’s ARC+ and ARC rallies with rally flags already flying high in Las Palmas, virtual safety checks completed and World Cruising yellow shirt team eager to be back on the docks for the 36th edition of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers.
In just over one week’s time, the doors will open on the Rally Office and Information Centre and the ARC+ programme will get underway for a special edition of the two stage Atlantic crossing. ARC+, which first sailed in 2013, has a new Caribbean destination this year; Camper and Nicholsons Port Louis Marina on the idyllic island of Grenada. A fleet of around 80 yachts, carrying friends and families from 22 different nations will gather in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for a programme of events to support their preparations, from seminars to sit-down meals, compliant with local protocols. Start day, on 7th November 2021, will see the rally depart for Marina Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicente, Cape Verde for a 4-6 day stopover to explore the cultural melting pot and stunning fauna of the archipelago. Following time to re-stock and refuel, the second ocean passage is expected to take around 12 to 16 days for the average ARC+ cruising boat and crews can expect only the warmest welcome from the Camper and Nicholsons Port Louis Marina team as they reach Pure Grenada’s shores.
This year’s ARC+ is a fully-fledged family affair with no less than 44 children taking part and the youngest participant will be just 19 months old on start day. A quarter of the boats in the fleet are sailing with under 16s on board which will no doubt create an excitable atmosphere amongst the fleet. The families are already in touch via a dedicated Whatsapp group, and special activities will be arranged for the children in Gran Canaria before start day.
The ARC+ 2021 fleet boasts an eclectic range of cruising yachts, from classic ocean-crossing Swans from the 1970s through to new-build multihulls set to put their first Atlantic miles under their keels.
Given the impact of the pandemic on the cruising plans of many ARC+ sailors, some have delayed their crossing for 12 months and will be even more eager to get out on the open ocean. Ensuring that skippers are well prepared, World Cruising Club has offered Virtual Safety Inspections in advance with the experienced Safety Team available to check equipment on board during a video call, discuss preparations, answer questions, and provide support before the programme begins. Inspections will still take place in Las Palmas in a COVID-conscious way with the multi-lingual safety team, but virtual checks have been a popular new offering for skippers to seek reassurance earlier, and free up time to enjoy the ARC+ programme.
Following last year’s significantly adapted programme due to the pandemic, restrictions in Gran Canaria have eased to enable crews to enjoy more pre-departure activities including an organised excursion to the ARC Forest, crew suppers, and live seminars, supporting them to set off on start day well-prepared and full of the hallmark ARC+ camaraderie.