It was an early start to the day but crews have been preparing a long time to get ready for the off and were all eager to slip lines and head south. By around 0815 only two of the rally boats were still on the docks and they were busy getting lines ready. Even with the start set for 1000 it's about an hour and a half to get out the Elizabeth River and into the bay.
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Without fact checking and looking back into the archives, this was the first time in about five years that the ARC Caribbean 1500 & ARC Bahamas started on the scheduled day. In the past the rallies have either departed a couple days late or even a day early in order to get a favorable weather window to get across the Gulf Stream. It has really been a beautiful week in Portsmouth, VA with pleasant weather almost every day. The boats have a pretty light forecast for the first couple of days until the next system brings in some NE winds. As we know when sailing the wind is often not enough or too much, but when crossing the stream I think most people would prefer not enough and to motor sail across in comfortable seas.
The sun did break through the overcast skies and wind picked up to around 5-8 knots from the East, enough to sail the start line. Our thanks to Mike onboard his SeaRay 27 for being the Committee Vessel today. Once the line was set it wasn't long before the countdown begun. At the pin end and right on the starting horn, first to cross the line was the J/42 'Merlin', closely followed by the Morris 46 'Cotinga'. Closer to the committee vessel 'Avanti' crossed in third place making a nice silhouette with his black sails.
In all there are 22 boats now at sea, 4 headed to the Bahamas and 18 headed to the BVI's loaded up with boxes of supplies to aid in the relief efforts down there. Keep looking out for the blogs which are starting to come in from the boats at sea to find out what life is like out there and follow the fleet using the fleet viewer or download the 'YB races' app. Safe sailing to all of the crews and have fun at the other end:) Rally Control standing by 77, Aloha!