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Competitive spirit in ARC Racing Division



This year’s rally will see one of the largest groups ever choosing to sail across in the ARC Racing Division, raced under IRC. A diverse fleet of 35 racers will be lining up in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria as part of the 220-boat ARC fleet headed for Saint Lucia. For spectators, it will be an impressive sight as some of the world’s most competitive race boats strive for position on Sunday’s startline at 1245 (local time). For the cruising boats in the fleet, its a great opportunity to share a startline with Olympians, world record holders and professional crews. 

George David’s professional crew racing on board the American all-carbon fibre Maxi, Rambler 88, includes highly experienced America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race sailors who will be following the position of potential rivals such as Trifork and Sanya, two Volvo Open 70s.

Several race charter boats cross the Atlantic each year in order to enjoy a Caribbean regatta season, and competing in the ARC Racing Division once again will be ARC regulars such as EH01, Arthur Logic, Quokka, Scarlet Oyster, Olympia’s Tigress and the Tall Ships Sailing Association’s three Challenge 72s.

Hot favourites

Stuart Wilson, Boat Captain on Rambler 88, who recently took line honours in the Rolex Middle Sea Race, and will be in charge of 18 sailors flying into Las Palmas de Gran Canaria from all over the world to race on this impressive Maxi. With a 10-day crossing in sight, he’s not expecting a record run looking at the current forecasts, but all that could change and the crew will be ready to push the boat to its limits as usual.

Rambler 88’s Project Manager, Mick Harvey says: “It’s been a really good experience dealing with the organisers of the ARC. Everyone is very helpful and it’s quite an eye-opener for someone coming from the racing side, which can be quite combative. Our boat came from Malta where we had a good result. George David, Rambler 88’s owner really wanted to join in with the ARC because he really enjoys these transatlantic crossings and scheduling-wise, this worked well. Everyone is really looking forward to the ARC.”

Crew back to defend record
Rokas Milevicius from Lithuania is racing on Trifork, one of two VO70’s competing in the ARC Racing Division. Skipper, Jens Dolmer will lead the team of 50% professionals and 50% guests. Gerdjan Poortman is also on board and he was skipper on the record-breaking VO65, Team Brunel that set the record in ARC 2015 of 8 days 7 hours, 39 minutes and 30 seconds.

“We love this race and especially so because half of the crew racing on Trifork this year also raced on the VO65, Team Brunel which broke the ARC record last year. We are now the record holders, so we will try to beat it on this boat, or at least try to protect it against Rambler 88. There’s also another VO70 Sanya, but it is Rambler that is the faster boat and big competition for us.”

Racing boss turned family bluewater cruiser
Knut Frostad, the Norwegian former CEO of three editions of the Volvo Ocean Race stepped down at the end of 2015 after eight years at the helm. He also competed in three events as crew aboard Intrum Justitia (1993-94) and then as skipper aboard both Innovation Kvaerner (1997-98) and then Djuice Dragons (2001-02).

“After almost half of my life and a lot of passion invested in the race, it was time to dedicate more time to my young family,” said a relaxed-looking Frostad whilst making final preparations on board his Outremer 5X, Nemo sailing in the ARC Cruising Division.

“I bought Nemo about a year ago and after I stopped working on the Volvo Ocean Race we decided to take a break and sailing was one of the options, so here we are in the ARC. We live in Alicante and sailed in the Med and up to Norway with our children aged 2 and 7 who have been on board for eight months now. They are absolutely loving the ARC as they have lots of friends on other ARC boats and we are all on the same pontoon; it’s great. The children will not do the crossing with us as my daughter has to go back to school in Spain, but they will join us after the finish in the Caribbean when we will continue our two-year sailing adventure.”

“I have to say that am very impressed with the ARC, as I am used to the professional racing circuit and this is a much more friendly atmosphere,” says Frostad.

Hoping for 6th class win

Ross Applebey’s Oyster Lightwave 48, Scarlet Oyster will be going for their 6th consecutive race win in the ARC Racing Division and is a seasoned ARC competitor.

“The last five years we’ve won our class and it’s worked very well for us so far. The ARC tends to be a bucket-list type of thing for our crews and it’s something people like to tick off. They then come back with us and do another race and become lifelong sailors. This is obviously a race, but at the same time we’ve got to get across in one piece and it’s all about risk and reward and trying to find that balance.

“The Grand Soleil 43, Quokka, skippered by my friendly rival Philippe Falle rates similar to us, as does the Baltic 50, Gordon’s and she’ll be quick and fast in light winds. There’s always a few boats we don’t know in the ARC Racing Division and we’ve had some very close races over the years, which is fun.”

Youthful ambition on board Volvo 70 Sanya

Ysbrand Endt, Co-skipper of Sanya has sailed in the ARC Racing Division previously on an X-55 and a Class40. This year he will be skippering the Volvo 70, Sanya along with 17 crew, made up of two professionals, eight young sailors and the boat’s owner and friends. All will be participating in order to race the boat well and as quickly as possible against opponents, Rambler 88 and Trifork.

“It’s hard to say anything about our expectations for the ARC as there is only myself and my co-skipper and then we have four very good amateur sailors who are growing into professional sailors, but who are not there yet. We started this whole project in order to attain the ARC record, but with the weather forecast of light winds, this is now not looking so good at the moment.

“We’ve done a lot of training with young sailors this winter in our home port of Breskens,” says the Dutch skipper. “We’ve trained up 15 crews under 30 years of age and eight of them will be racing on board Sanya for the ARC crossing. They’ve learnt how to sail a Volvo 70 and competed in a few races, so are now ready for their transatlantic crossing.”