For the sailors of ARC+ 2021, last night’s Prizegiving ceremony marked the end of their Atlantic adventure that began in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the eastern side of the Atlantic six weeks ago. The docks of Camper and Nicholsons Port Louis Marina on the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada have come to life with arrivals over the past ten days following their ocean crossing. Warm welcomes, emotional reunions, and rum punch celebrations for every boat have fittingly marked the achievement of making landfall after sailing over 2,400nm from Mindelo, Cape Verde on the second stage of their ARC+ adventure.
Held in the stunning beachside setting of the Aquarium Restaurant, the ambiance at last night’s prizegiving reflected a large family party, everyone knowing each other so well within the fleet. 64 of the 66 boats sailing under the ARC+ banner have made landfall in Grenada, with the final arrivals who departed late from Mindelo expected in the coming days. With stunning views on Magazine beach, facing the Caribbean sea, and a mountainous backdrop, the setting was perfect for the final coming together of nearly 300 participants, including the many children in the fleet. With the sound of a traditional steel pan band providing an unforgettable musical experience as a reminder of their Caribbean landfall, ARC+ children played on the sand and their parents shared stories of their great Atlantic adventure and their memorable rally experience. As the sun started to set, the prizegiving commenced celebrating everyone in this ocean-crossing community with awards for sailing performance and contributions to the amazing rally spirit that has developed over the past six weeks.
Assisting in the presentation of the awards, ARC+ Event Manager Suzana Tetlow and Mark Burton were joined by Petra Roach, CEO of the Grenada Tourism Authority, Nikoyan Roberts, Nautical Development Manager and Marketing Manager for the Grenada Tourism Authority, and Lexi Fisher, co-author of Doyles Cruising Guides.
Proceedings began with a hearty recognition of the teams that have put so much into organising ARC+ 2021 with the rally arriving in Grenada for the first time. “It has been an absolute pleasure for Grenada Tourism Authority to be involved in this very prestigious ARC+ event," said Petra Roach, “I want to say a big thank you for choosing Grenada and for us choosing you as well, and to Port Louis Marina as this is a team effort and I’m really pleased about the collaboration that we have ongoing and we really lend our commitment so that going forward we get better and better, because we believe in this event.” Zara Tremlett and the staff at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina have worked tirelessly to accommodate the ARC+ fleet and Charlotte Fairhead & Karen Stiell from the GTA service partner BroadReach were thanked for their invaluable day-to-day support in the seamless delivery of the rally.
Those visiting the stage to collect their prizes included Arya (NOR) awarded Line Honours, followed by the Multihull Division topped by Neel 47 BigBird (USA) on corrected time, with family catamaran Tortuga (DEU) in 2nd place and Scat Cat (GBR) in 3rd. Already back in their native France, two of the crew of Outremer 51 Piment Rouge (FRA), who were the first boat to arrive, sent a special message played out to their fellow participants, before the party anthem ‘Everybody Needs Somebody’ by the Blues Brothers upped the party atmosphere as the awards continued.
The Cruising Division was split into three classes based on handicaps, with Najad 490 Albicilla (NOR) topping Class C, Beneteau First 456 Daisy (DNK) 1st in Class B, and Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 50DS Adelante (NOR) 1st in Class A. It was not just the crews who were successful in the competitive side of the rally who received prizes; there were many other awards given out for happenings at sea, the closest finish and longest distance sailed, as well as recognising SSB Net and double-handed crews who took part. The young participants of ARC+ have been a prominent feature of the rally with the 33 children under the age of 16 sailing across with the rally this year all invited to the stage to receive special certificates and sweet treats from the Grenada Tourism Authority.
Numerous participants took the opportunity of being on stage to say a few words to the assembled group, praising their own crew, congratulating all the participants as having crossed the Atlantic, and thanking the team of yellow shirts for their contribution to the success of ARC+ 2021. The final participants to be called to the stage were the crew to be presented the Spirit of ARC+. Saved for last in the proceedings, this is given to the crew, or crew member, who, through their extraordinary actions, have demonstrated the spirit of what the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers is all about - safer and enjoyable longer distance cruising, in the company of others.
Oceans can be testing environments for even the most accomplished sailors. And sometimes things can go wrong. On the 5th December, a single-handed sailing yacht on passage from Guyana to Martinique was dis-masted. The skipper was alone with no communications [and no engine]. In his own words, the skipper thought his time had come. However, after 3 days, fortunately for him, a boat from the ARC+ was passing nearby. The crew took the time to check on the yacht and see what assistance they could provide. The crew established communications, relayed the distress to the authorities, and set about towing this poor single-handed sailor to port. The actions of the crew arguably saved the life of this captain and he eventually made safe landfall in Grenada. The 2021 Spirit of ARC+ was awarded to the crew of Coco (GBR) - Alfie, Ceylan, Adele and Stuart - in recognition of the support this ARC+ crew provided over 24 hours, and their fellow participants erupted in cheers and applause.
The rally this year has been one of great rewards for those who have delayed plans and overcome challenges encountered by the pandemic. Unique friendships have been formed, special memories have been made and the ocean sailors of ARC+ 2021 can all feel rightly proud of their achievements to reach the shores of Pure Grenada. “I am so grateful to have experienced the family-like environment that the ARC organisation provided for us. Not only did they go above and beyond to make sure we were prepared for the crossing, but they did a great job of bringing everyone in the rally together by hosting multiple events and parties,” said Megan Simonson from Helios (USA). “Tonight’s ARC+ prizegiving was beautifully put together. After the celebratory award hand-out, we got to catch up with fellow ARC+ sailors under the palm trees; the background sound of crashing waves was also wonderful. It was the perfect way to end the ARC+ rally.”