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An emotional finale to ARC 2014

Last evenings Prize Giving ceremony marked the close of ARC 2014. Despite it’s finality however, it also marked the start of the winter cruising season for many participants. 

Taxis began running from the marina just after 4pm, taking participants to the Beausejour Cricket Ground, a new venue for the ARC prizegiving in the Rodney Bay area and just a few minutes from the marina and situated in the hills inland from the marina itself. Horses meandered around the lawn out back, lending a local flair to the area.

Upon arrival participants were offered another ice-cold rum punch, and were greeted with the sounds of Caribbean steel pan music. At just after five, the 600-plus people in attendance took their seats while Andrew Bishop took the stage.

“The ARC is always about much more than the competition,” said Andrew Bishop as last night’s proceedings got underway. “Which is why we’ll get started by recognizing many of you with our annual special prizes.”

Some 40+ special prizes were awarded last night for any number of fun categories. For the second year, random awards were given to yachts, with 7th and 10th place finishers on corrected time in each class called to the stage to receive their special prize. Along similar lines, Matilda, finishing 78th in line honours and with a boat number of 78, received a special award for their luck in matching those numbers.

“Unless you’re really clever, that one is next to impossible to plan for,” joked Andrew Bishop before congratulating Matilda.

Thalassa received the Smallest Yacht award, Antares the Last to Arrive award and Evolution and Albatros shared the Closest Finish award for crossing the line within 32 seconds of one another.

Special prizes were awarded for web logs in several categories. The KAPRYS award for overcoming adversity at the start was awarded to Ross Applebey of Scarlet Oyster.

“Only 24-hours prior to the start, Scarlet Oyster was without a rudder,” explained Andrew Bishop. “Ross remained calm, despite a shipping snag that hung up the rudder en route to Las Palmas. They made the start, and sailed the route faster than any other boat in the Racing Division on corrected time.”

Mark Burton, co-skipper of Scarlet Oyster, accepted the award on behalf of Ross.

“I hope they’re giving you an appearance fee,” joked Andrew Bishop as mark took the stage. Having done the ARC for many years now, Mark has gotten to know a lot of the repeat participants, and accepted at least five other awards during the course of the evening last night on behalf of folks not in attendance. His smiling face will appear often on the gallery pages of the ARC 2014 website!

The Most Beautiful Yacht is a notable award in that other ARC participants vote it on. Normally there is a clear winner receiving the majority of the votes, but this year was very close, with only 1 vote distinguishing the winner. That went to Leopard by Finland, the Farr 100 that smashed the course record.

The Philip Hitchcock Award for safety was given to the Finnish yacht Dyssel for their excellent preparation in Las Palmas, setting an example for ocean sailors everywhere. Despite losing a blade of their propeller some 200 miles from Saint Lucia, they displayed excellent seamanship by sailing the last bit across the line, and arrived into Rodney Bay Marina, appropriately, each crewmember still wearing their PFDs.

An Incident Free ARC.

“With the arrival of Antares yesterday evening, I can safely say that the 2014 ARC was notable for the lack of at-sea incidents,” said Andrew Bishop during the proceedings. “We’d like to give a special thanks to the few yachts that did offer assistance at sea, and thankfully it was only to transfer fuel.”

99 Bottles gave fuel to Sanuk, while Wiki transferred fuel to Ripples. In a bit of foreshadowing, both 99 Bottles and Sanuk had diverted to the Cape Verde’s for quick repairs, and happened to meet each other shoreside to share a meal.

“A few thousand miles later, we just happened to be near them again when we got their email saying they needed fuel,” said Martin, skipper of 99 Bottles. “So we rendezvoused offshore, they launched their dinghy and we traded 120 litres of fuel for a 12-pack of beer! A fair swap I think!”

Thankfully, the fuel transfers at sea were the only notable incidents, aside from the normal wear and tear that a 3,000-mile passage will put on any boat.

“It’s a testament to all of your preparation, in following the handbook guidelines and in completing a safe passage across the Atlantic. This is what we strive for in the ARC, so a big round of applause for yourselves in completing that accomplishment.”

Children of ARC 2014 on stage.

Winners Announced in Part 2.

After a brief intermission, during which a steel pan band played and participants mingled over beer, rum punch and hors d’oeuvres, Part 2 of the Prize Giving began with the playing of the Saint Lucian National Anthem, followed by remarks from certain distinguished guests, including Simon Bryan, GM of IGY Rodney Bay Marina and the Honourable Lorne Theophilus, Minister for Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries. For the first time ever, Melchor Camon, President Patronata de Tourismo de Gran Canaria was in attendance in Saint Lucia, flying over just for the occasion. He was invited on stage to welcome the sailors some four weeks after they’d departed his own country.

Part 2 recognized the winners in each class. Despite Leopard’s record run, Scarlet Oyster narrowly edged the Farr 100, winners of IRC Racing Division Line Honours and Class A, for Overall Winner of the IRC Racing Division. Mark Burton took the stage yet again to accept the award.

Philocat Ena and Blue Waves took the Multihull Class A and B respectively.

Class G, sponsored by SOL, was won by Little Pea (GBR). Class F, sponsored by SLASPA, was won by Defyr (Fin), who also won line honours for a female-skippered boat in Part 1. Peter von Seestermuhe (GER), the classic 1936 yawl who also won Oldest Boat, took Class E, sponsored by Gran Canaria. In Class D, the Saint Lucia Ministry of Tourism Class, the Italian yacht Bluetaste corrected 1st and took the award, presented by Lorne Theophilus. Class C, sponsored by IGY Rodney Bay Marina and presented by Simon Bryan, was won by Hiera (ITA). Class B, sponsored by the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, was won by Arietta 4.2 (ITA). Finally, the Norwegian yacht CoCo won Class A, the Prime Ministers Class, much to their surprise.

An emotional conclusion.

It was the German classic Peter von Seestermuhe that took home the biggest prize in the Cruising Division, correcting on top overall and taking home the Jimmy Cornell Trophy, named in honour of the ARC’s founder.

The last two special prizes were then awarded. Thalassa, also the smallest boat in the fleet, was awarded the ARCH Marez Trophy for their contributions to shoreside activities, recognizing the late Marez’ contributions to the success of the ARC. It was his decision to expand Rodney Bay Marina in the early days of the event to accommodate the growing fleet.

“I’m glad it’s the last night,” said William, one of Thalassa’s three co-skippers, at the Boardwalk Bar after the prizegiving late last night. “We have to live up to this party boat reputation now, and I think we’ve all had enough rum this week to last the rest of the year!”

Finally, the evening ended on an emotional note with the Spirit of the ARC award. With thankfully no incidents occurring at sea that required the emergency assistance of another yacht, this year’s Spirit trophy was given to the yacht and crew that best exemplified the feeling of camaraderie and positivity the ARC team tries so hard to create. 2014’s Spirit of the ARC went to the crew of Take Off.

Despite having small children on board, they sailed hard and fast. On their arrival in Saint Lucia, they greeted each new arrival with the same enthusiasm, day or night, and on many occasions asked ARC staff to wake them in the pre-dawn hours to welcome a fellow sailor.

In tears, skipper Jorgen Wennberg accepted the award and offered an impromptu speech, asking that Andrew Bishop and all of the Yellowshirt team take the stage to be recognized for their hard work in making the ARC such a successful event. Andrew and his team were offered a standing ovation, and with that, the evening came to a close.

Until Next Year!

With the conclusion of ARC 2014, the focus now shifts on next year, which of course marks a major milestone for the rally. 2015 will be the 30th running of the ARC, which started way back in 1986. The boats and technology has certainly changed dramatically, but the ocean and skills needed to cross it safely have not. The 30th ARC planning is already underway with special events, prizes and details in the works.

For the full results for each class, click here. For a complete list of winners and special prizes, click here.

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