It’s week two of the ARC programme in Las Palmas and it’s all systems go. Every crew here has a story to tell about why they are sailing with the rally and their future cruising aspirations. On the docks today, we caught up with a selection of sailors on board who shared their stories about what has brought them to Las Palmas.
After the excitement of the official Opening Ceremony, it’s now down to the final week of preparation. Crews are flying in to join their boats and press from around the world will also be arriving throughout the week to report the build-up to the 30th ARC
Musical interlude - Aquaryd’s Swinging Reggae Orchestra
Aquaryd, Forgus 52, Leif Ryd (SWE)
“I am reaching the age when you have to start to live your dreams before it’s too late,” explains Leif Ryd, the Swedish owner of Aquaryd, a Forgus 52. This is his first crossing with the ARC but it is something he has been planning to do for many years. The crew of six is made up of “Four old guys and two youngsters,” and up until now, most of Leif’s sailing experience has been in the Baltic along with a cruise to Russia with his previous yacht. Leif is looking forward to living his dream, but much of his time is taken up with making sure his crew have fun aboard:
“I have been thinking a lot about how to keep my crew’s spirit up and everybody happy. What I’m concerned about most is how you make sure six people have fun on board in what is a pretty close environment,” explains Leif.
“Aquaryd is 52ft so is not so small, but every boat is a small boat when you get out there on the vast ocean. To keep up the spirit, we will play games and we will form a band during the crossing. It should be interesting as none of the crew are musicians, but I have told them I have instruments for them to learn on board: I have a guitar, tamborines and a harmonica. We do have three weeks to learn after all! We will call ourselves the Aquaryd’s Swinging Reggae Orchestra.”
Leif is not making any promises about performing on arrival in Saint Lucia when his wife and friends visit for Christmas!
Fishing with friends - 270 years sailing experience between Irish sailors
Alpair, Hallberg Rassy 48, Des Cummins (IRL)
A group of lifelong sailing friends from the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire near Dublin, Ireland will be on board the Hallberg Rassy 48, Alpair. They are aiming to catch lots of fish with their prized new equipment.
“This is the first Atlantic crossing for all of us and we’ve all been sailing since we were five, so it’s a bit of an adventure that we’ve been preparing for over 40 years,” jokes Skipper Des Cummins. “With about 270 years sailing experience between the six crew (all men), it was something that was on our ‘bucket list’. We just had to do it. The boat was built in Sweden in 2008/9 and we sailed it down to the UK then from Southampton to Galicia, the Med to Malta and with a couple of years in Croatia, here we are!”
Alpair’s sistership took 18 days to complete the crossing in 2013, so Des and his crew would be happy with around that time. Plenty of time to perfect their fishing skills:
“We’ve got a load of fishing gear on board Alpair,” explains Des. “My friend Peter Hogan actually manufactured it himself. He’s written a couple of books on sailing and he’s sailed round the world twice in a boat that he built himself and he’s given us some tips on fishing so we hope to catch some.”
Aiming to maintain energy and endurance on Team Tigress
Sirens’ Tigress, Reflex 38, Susan Glenny (GBR)
Susan Glenny is co-owner of the British Reflex 38, Sirens’ Tigress. The boat is usually raced as an all-female crew called The Sirens, but for the ARC she will be skippering a mixed crew known as Team Tigress. Following a full RORC racing series, the boat was placed 16th out of 120 boats racing in IRC 2.
“Passaging as a fleet is a good idea and we’d always do it in a race format. The ARC is obviously well established and we’ve got three people on board who very specifically wanted to do the ARC so we said ‘yes’, we’ll do it. There’s a range of experience amongst the crew, probably five regular sailors, two newer to sailing and then three very experienced people. It’s a nice mixture and most people have raced before, bar two,” explains Susan.
“We’ve had a very extensive offshore racing year already, including the Rolex Fastnet Race and will compete in the whole of the Caribbean regatta season,” says Susan who took a diversion from the corporate business world into sailing as a profession, five years ago.
“I met two other girls who wanted to expand their sailing and we all decided to buy a boat together, so it’s a three-way share. I run the boat and the other two girls work fulltime and we compete in pretty much everything. We haven’t done the ARC before and we are looking forward to being part of the ARC Racing Division as we will compete against a lot of our regular sparring partners from the Solent, which is good. In Las Palmas we are all moored on Pontoon ‘T’ which has become the Hamble pontoon (although I am from Cowes but have been adopted!).
“With less than a week to go before the start, I think the preparations have been fairly easy because I’m used to prepping boats for racing and the safety categorization and everything that has to go on, so I was fairly well set up for that. I’ve done a number of longer races before, but I think obviously the big thing about the ARC is the length and it’s the duration of time at sea. That and keeping crew morale up and sailing the boat as best as we can will be the greatest challenge. We want to try and compete as well as possible and work as hard as possible. So, it’s maintaining that energy and endurance basically that will be the hardest thing. Also, it’s the routeing and I’m looking at that very closely and getting it right and making sure that we are in the right place to maintain our speed all the time, but so as not to get caught out. So I think they are all challenges that are a really good expansion of my time sailing to date, so it will be good. We are looking forward to the rum punch on arrival. You’ve got to understand why we do these things!” joked Susan.
New liveaboards loving ARC camaraderie
Ruby Rose, Southerly 38, Nick Fabbri and Terysa Vanderloo (GBR/AUS)
The whole ARC experience has been a revelation for new bluewater sailing partners Nick Fabbri and Terysa Vanderloo who bought their much-loved Southerly 38, Ruby Rose specifically for the purpose of living aboard and sailing into the sunset.
After mainly weekend sailing on the East Coast of England and a shakedown trip to Brittany, Nick sold off his dental practice and Terysa quit her job as a paramedic. The years of planning and preparation paid off and they purchased their ideal boat for a first Atlantic crossing. Proudly flying their ARC flag at every marina en route, they have forged lasting friendships already.
Nick explains: “Now that we’ve been here in Las Palmas for almost two weeks we’ve realised what fantastic value for money the rally is. We are really impressed with the way it’s been done. We just thought we’d get a series of lectures, but it’s that and all the other events, along with the ARC camaraderie that is unbelievable. Then you kind of feel safer knowing that there are people we’ve been friends with for months that will be within a hundred miles of us when we cross. A lot of it comes from what some would consider to be a secondary benefit, which is we are asked to fly our ARC flags when we go into any marina. We found our best friends here in Las Palmas in Portugal as they were flying an ARC flag, so we’ve made some really good friends.”
“We used to have a 32ft boat and it was five years ago that we decided we were going to do this and we went through the process of choosing and buying the boat. We then spent three years kitting her out and reading all the WCC information religiously and spending long winter months doing the research. We then sold the business and rented our house out and this is our home now so we made a massive commitment,” says Nick.
The duo will be sailing across with two very good friends who are experienced sailors: “We left the UK in May and we crossed Biscay which was the longest crossing up until that point and we slowly made our way down here and are about to cross the Atlantic which is overwhelming. We hadn’t done any sort of sailing on this scale and this is the first time we’ve done anything like this. It’s very new to us so that is why we wanted to have extra crew with us who were experienced. This is by far the most adventurous sailing we’ve ever done,” says Terysa who is also equally enthusiastic about her first ARC experience:
“We knew that there would be a lot of social activities doing the ARC and that there would be 200 other boats doing the same thing, but I don’t think we were prepared for the atmosphere and it’s really starting to rev up now and with less than a week to go. We’ve slowly seen more and more boats come in and now everyone is flying the ARC flag and its beautiful. A fantastic sight!”
Follow the new longterm cruisers on their sailing adventures via their sailing website named after Winston Churchill’s quote about the British Navy and Nick’s love of The Pogues album of the same name: www.rumsodomyandthelash.com