Things are hotting up in Las Palmas as the first of three route departures moves closer every day. Seminars and socials have been
exceptionally popular with ARC+ participants, with great attendance and enthusiasm
for each of the events on the pre-departure programme creating quite a buzz around Muelle Deportivo. On Wednesday, crews transformed
themselves with creative carnival outfits for the ARC+ Costume Party which is always one of the social highlights, themed
this year for ‘A night in Rio’. With prizes on offer for the best costumes, crews
arrived adorned in feathers and sequins as the Club Maritimo Varadero was
transformed to reflect Brazil’s capital city carnival.
Returning the focus to their transatlantic sail ahead, Thursday
saw a day of safety demonstrations with Roger Seymour from Hamble School of
Yachting providing crews with a great opportunity to get hands on experience
with equipment that all ARC+ boats carry but hopefully never need to use. Being
prepared should the worse happen whilst out at sea and knowing how to cope in
an emergency is really important for yacht crews and the experienced Safety
Team were on hand to answer any questions and demonstrate the practicalities of
using some of the key items.
Opening proceedings, the rumble of SASEMAR helicopter echoed
around the marina as they circled around the ‘victim’ vessel off the Northern
Breakwater. Participants watched as the diver was lowered, and then saw the
procedure for removing a casualty by hi-line transfer.
A flare demonstration was then conducted to enable any crew
that had not experienced the use of flares or seen them ignited before to get
some hands on experience with these safety devices. Demonstrations of the safe
ignition of the orange smoke and the red handheld flare were provided and
participants were then invited to fire off some recently expired flares, a
great practice exercise, as you never know what conditions you might be in when
you have to do it for real!
With the temperature rising, crews were then only too happy
to cool off with the liferaft demonstration at the rooftop pool of the Club
Varadero. Guided through the demonstration, they were shown how to deploy a
liferaft, board it (easier said than done) and recover the liferaft should it
capsize. Participants enjoyed the morning of safety information, and were very
happy to have either their memory jogged on important safety issues or for
some, learning some vital safety techniques for the first time.
On Friday morning, supporters of the ARC from the Cabildo de
Gran Canaria, Patronato de Turismo de Gran Canaria, Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas
de Gran Canaria and the Autoridad Portuaria de Las Palmas gathered to present
the 2018 edition of the rally to the local press. Assembling on the ARC
platform, journalists from over a dozen publications came to hear about the
importance of the ARC to the local community of Las Palmas and the wider
promotion of Gran Canaria as a tourist destination attracting sailors and
holidaymakers from all over the world.
Speaking on behalf of ARC World Cruising Club, Andrew Bishop
made the point that the City has built a solid reputation in the global sailing
community as ‘the’ place to start an Atlantic sailing journey, and this opinion
was regardless of whether yachts sailed in the ARC rally or of their own
accord. In 2017, the direct revenue of the ARC in Las Palmas exceeded 3.2m€ and
Señor Juan Jose Cardona, Presidente
del Autoridad Portuaria de Las Palmas (President of the Port Authority), explained
that these financial benefits were felt across all industry sectors, from the
marine and port industries to the hospitality industry, and the Rally’s
presence here provided long-term promotional benefits for the City of Las
Palmas and the island of Gran Canaria to an amount far greater than the direct
income during the ARC’s physical time here. He stated that these strong economic
benefits of ARC’s presence City over the years has been directly responsible
for the continued evolution and technological advancement of the Port of Las
Palmas and its now extensive marine servicing facilities.
Señorita Inés Jiménez, Consejera de Turismo del Cabildo de Gran Canaria (Tourism Minister for the Local Govt), said that the ARC is a world-class
event and thoroughly enjoyed by all the people of Las Palmas who feel a strong
sense of pride to be able to host thousands of foreign crews each year.
As the backdrop to today’s Press Conference, it was evident
to see that the marina is certainly filling up. Final preparations are underway
for the ARC+ fleet's departure on Sunday 11th November, and the continuous arrival
of boats from the ARC fleet, who set off two weeks after them. Participants
pioneering the new ARC+ St. Vincent route will continue their preparations for
a few more days ahead of their departure for the Cape Verdes, scheduled for
Thursday 15th November.