Following their blast off departure from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on Sunday, the fleet of ARC 2015 continue to be propelled into the Atlantic and towards the shores of Saint Lucia. The echoes of ships horns, blaring music and serenades of local brass bands have faded away since start day, but settling into life at sea has offered new excitement for the crews as they get used to life at 30 degrees!
As was forecasted, confused seas provided some discomfort for the first night at sea, and wind in one of the infamous Canarian Wind Acceleration Zones to the southeast of Gran Canaria delivered some strong gusts which the fleet were well prepared for following the Skippers Briefing. After 12 hours of rock and roll, Jeremy Wyatt on yacht Taistealai admitted that “If the ARC is a milk run then we've been churned! Full on Atlantic sailing from day 1!”
Day two at sea and conditions had moderated to closer resemble what the crews had signed up for – “Steady as we go, winds dropped back to around 20 kts as we sail directly towards St Lucia. We have a couple of other ARC yachts just in sight...Currently goose winged (main one side, genoa poled out the other) with a long swell following sea and sunshine!" said yacht Isabel.
Many increased their sail area as the winds stabilised, hoisting spinnakers and cruising chutes, and surfed the waves clocking up record speeds even at this early stage of the 18-21 day crossing.
So far, persistent north easterly winds have allowed much of the fleet to stay closer to the rhumb line route than in previous years due to the well-established Azores High. The outlook is similar until this weekend where a low pressure system north of the fleet is expected to disrupt the strong north easterly winds creating lighter and more variable conditions – Skippers and tacticians of boats in the IRC Racing Division are continuing to study the developing weather and wind patterns ahead. As can be seen on the Fleet Tracker, Team Brunel is currently sprinting away leading the racing fleet.
Within the ARC fleet, a number of boats have postponed their course for Saint Lucia to affect repairs, including Magritte, Jolly Red and Calypso who are currently diverting to Mindelo, Cape Verde. 4 Ocean’s Dream, Oberon, and Hanse Sailor have all left Gran Canaria and are gaining on the main fleet, and Southern Child has restarted following repairs in Tenerife.
ARC Rally Control was contacted at 11:00 this morning (25 November) by the skipper of Dufour 34, Duffy (IRL) to report that the yacht had been dismasted during a strong gust and broach. All crew are well and a nearby ARC yacht, Marlene F has transferred extra fuel to allow Duffy to motor to the Canary Islands, where they plan to make landfall in El Hierro.