The ‘ARC season’ began today when 95 yachts departed Las Palmas de Gran Canaria bound for Cape Verde on their 850nm journey on leg 1 of the ARC+ transatlantic rally. This is a record-breaking fleet for the event, proving the growing popularity of this two-stage Atlantic adventure and the appeal of the destinations in Cape Verde and Grenada.
Just after 11am, Lady Ellen led the 95 boats in the ARC+ 2023 fleet out of Las Palmas Marina, amid well-wishers who gathered on both sides of the eastern and northern breakwater.
Under blue skies and a carnival atmosphere with music playing, crowds – along with the yellow shirt team - gathered on the breakwaters, waving flags and cheering the boats on as they left. Many of the participants lined up on the front of their boats waving back and taking video footage of their departure as they headed towards the start line.
The ARC+ Start
While ARC+ isn’t a race and there is no racing division, the yachts have a formal start time to provide fun competition. At 12:45, the starting gun fired on Customs cutter Condor, with the 26 ARC+ multihulls getting underway in 12 knots of wind from just west of north. The first three boats across the line were all from Outremer – a 51, Maracuja (FRA) flying her orange gennaker, followed by Outremer 55-2 XIII Treize (FRA) and Nuvem Magica (FRA), an Outremer 5X.
The monohulls were next across the line at 13:00 with a very competitive start. Hanse 455 Infinity of Yar (GBR), Italia Yachts 15.98 Nessun Dorma (ITA), Rustler 44 Sea Hayes (GBR) and Oyster 485 Wild Goose (GBR) crossed the line in close formation. Most skippers opted for a conservative start – after all, it is over 800 nautical miles to Mindelo, 5 to 7 days of trade winds sailing.
The destinations ahead
From Gran Canaria, the fleet will sail to Cape Verde. The passage should be a quick one, as the NE trade winds are already well established. The boats are expecting 20-25 knots of wind with gusts of 25-30 knots and a decent long swell for the next week.
After nearly a week ashore for sightseeing and recouperation, on November 17 the 456-participants will start the second stage of the ARC+ rally, sailing 2150 nautical miles across the Atlantic to Grenada.
World Cruising Club Managing Director, Paul Tetlow, explains the route: “Their first destination will be the beautiful island of Sao Vicente in the Cape Verde islands, where they will be warmly welcomed at Marina Mindelo. It is easy to see why the voyage via Cape Verde is growing in popularity – not only does it make a convenient stop after five to seven days of sailing, but the islands have a unique culture that adds to the whole ARC+ experience. We wish the largest-ever ARC+ fleet fair winds for their Atlantic adventure.”
Named Yachting Destination of the Year by the Caribbean Travel Awards, Grenada is the final rally destination. Zara Tremlett, Manager at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina says, “The team and I are so looking forward to welcoming the ARC+ 2023 participants to this beautiful marina and we can’t wait to share our authentic Grenadian hospitality and celebrate your Atlantic crossing achievements together.”
“Grenada is buzzing with excitement to welcome 400 plus international sailors on 95 boats in this year’s ARC+ transatlantic crossing. Grenada has amazing culinary, soft-adventure, diving, hiking, chocolate-making and rum-tasting experiences to choose from, and our warm, friendly people appreciate every visitor interaction,” said Petra Roach, CEO of Grenada Tourism Authority.
Every ARC+ boat is fitted with the latest YB trackers, so the fleet can be followed on the YB Races app or on the Fleet Viewer on the rally website.