Whilst many people are packing away the tinsel, wrapping up the Christmas tree lights, and saying farewell to the festive holidays for another year, the air of excitement and anticipation is just beginning as 29 yachts from 13 different nations gather for the start of World ARC 2019 at IGY Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia. Family boats, cruising couples and groups of friends will be setting out on a long-held dream to set sail around the world, navigating the oceans together on the ultimate sailing adventure.
The World ARC office opened this morning, Saturday 5 January 2019, whereupon the team of enthusiastic yellow shirts welcomed the first participants to the rally and commenced safety equipment inspections. Each boat collected their World ARC flag to proudly fly during their voyage as well as their welcome pack with rally information for the exciting months ahead. The Simmonds family on Hallberg-Rassy 42F Aurora B were first to check in for the rally followed by doublehanders Lars and Laura on Sweet Dream. By the end of the day, thirteen boats registered with the team and safety checks are well underway.
A fun and informative event programme starts this evening with World Cruising Welcome Drinks held at the IGY Marina Swimming Pool. This is the first opportunity for all the crews to meet each other as the rally begins with a nice sundowner and a chance to ‘break the ice’ for those new to World Cruising Club events. Several of this year’s circumnavigators left Europe in November with the ARC, sailing either direct or via Cape Verde, and so there is already a pleasant feeling of reunion as they meet back in Rodney Bay after cruising independently, swapping stories of where they have spent Christmas and seen in the New Year. Those arriving in Rodney Bay for the first time have been warmly welcomed too and tomorrow’s Tree Top Canopy Adventure Tour with be a fun opportunity to get to know one another and see some of Saint Lucia’s beautiful rainforest.
During the lead up to the start on Saturday 12 January, there’s also plenty of information shared by the World Cruising Club team to put participants in good stead for the adventure. A number of useful briefings and seminars include an introduction to the Rally Route, giving a place-by-place look at the destinations on the whole rally and especially the first few stopovers taking the fleet to Colombia and San Blas then through the Panama Canal to Galapagos. Meteorologist Chris Tibbs will also be giving a Weather Briefing looking at typical weather patterns on the tradewind route, plus tips for Downwind Sailing and Navigating in Coral – essential once they reach the glorious Pacific atolls. On Friday, the day before departure, there will be a comprehensive Skippers’ Briefing for the exciting first Leg to Santa Marta.
Across on the other side of ‘the pond', the World ARC 2018-19 fleet have been having a fabulous time in Cape Town during Christmas and New Year. Although, several crew members took the chance to fly home to see family and friends during the festive season, there has been plenty of activity for those staying behind. The rally programme there is also underway ahead of their next leg start sailing via St. Helena and on to Brazil, setting off on 9 January.