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Special celebrations in Saint Lucia bring ARC+ 2016 to a close

For sailors on the ARC+ route of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, last night's prize-giving ceremony in Saint Lucia marked the end of their Atlantic adventure that began in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria six weeks ago. The alternative route to the traditional direct ARC saw over 250 crew enjoy the same great activity programme before and after their ARC crossing, but also an interesting and enjoyable stopover on São Vicente, in Cape Verde.

The ambience at last night's prize-giving reflected a large family party, everyone knowing each other so well within the 72 boat fleet. Participants were served ice cold fruit punch on arrival at the Pigeon Island National Park and relaxed to enjoy the evening in the magnificent setting.

Enjoying the warm evening, crews were invited to listen to the prize-giving under the covered grass area, providing cover from occasional tropical rain showers. Welcoming them to the ceremony, World Cruising Club's Andrew Bishop recounted a few tales as he worked his way through numerous awards. Donalyn Vittet from the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, kindly assisted in presenting prizes to all the lucky winners.

Those visiting the stage to collect their prizes included Division winners Fruit Salid 3 sailed double-handed by Australians Mark Drobitko and Joseph Wetzels to top Class A, the Russian crew of Celebrity sporting their coordinated crew shirts claimed the prize for Class B, and British boat Arcanum, an Arcona 400 skippered by John Strickfuss, won Class C.

 Fruit Salid 3Celebrity  Arcanum

As is traditional in the ARC too, it was not just crews who were successful in the competitive side of the rally who received prizes; there were many other awards given out for happenings at sea, successes and achievements as well as recognising the families and double-handed crews who took part. Drawing much amusement from the crowd, a special prize was awarded to Commedia who sailed the longest distance from Mindelo, Cape Verde to Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia of 2259.3NM – 160NM more than the rhumb line route!

The last participants to be called to the stage were the crew of Somnium, who were presented with the Spirit of ARC+ award. Each year, this prize recognises the crew who contribute in a special way to the rally, and this year Somnium provided assistance to fellow ARC+ yacht, Scallywag. “They were close by and radioed us one morning. We had a nice chat, exchanged experiences and impressions of the last days and talked about the weather.” Said Dorothea Paulowitsch from Somnium, “Additionally they told us that unfortunately their gennaker halyard ripped and it was quite difficult for them to fix with just two people on the boat of their size. So our crew offered to help and the two boats came together in the middle of the ocean. In calm seas, Sven and Mart swam over to Scallywag to help them fix the problem and go up the mast for them.” After 5 days without flying their gennaker, the crew of Scallywag were extremely grateful of the assistance, and there was rapturous applause as Somnium were presented with the prize on stage.

Somnium with their Spirit of ARC+ Award

Andrew Bishop made a special point to mention two ARC+ who are still at sea; Baroness and Great Days are currently due to make landfall on the 9 December, and will no doubt receive a wonderful welcome on arrival after over 23 days at sea.

After the awards were complete, the bars were opened and ARC+ participants celebrated together to the rhythm of a steel pan band. But the evening's excitement did not end there as participants from thirty-five boats sailing with the ARC direct route started to arrive for their Welcome Party.

Reinforcing the importance of the rally's visit to the island, the Minister for Tourism, the Honourable Dominic Fedee, attended the party and gave the keynote welcome speech. He extended a warm welcome and encouraged participants to enjoy their time on the island, including a visit to the Anse La Raye Fish Fry in a small fishing village to the south of Marigot Bay. Sean Devaux, General Manager of IGY Rodney Bay Marina, the host marina, echoed the welcome and promised to be at the participant’s service during their stay in the marina.

With that, an awesome performance from tribal dancers including fire eating and dancers on stilts towering over delighted crews rounded off a wonderful welcome to Saint Lucia!


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