Today, Saturday 4 May, start day arrived for 35 boats taking part in the 2019 editions of ARC Europe and ARC USA setting off from Tortola. After a week of pre-departure preparations and social events, over 100 crew taking part in the rallies were eager to put to sea and enjoy the first leg of the ocean sail. 31 boats are now bound for Bermuda, and 4 will sail to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida via the Old Bahama Channel.
It was a pretty relaxed morning on the docks in Nanny Cay as all of the boats, except two with late crew flying in, had managed to clear Customs & Immigration the day before and also checked out with the rally office. All that was left to do was pick up some long sleeve tech tees (but not to be used for navigation!), and wish one another well on the passage. Several crews were spotted enjoying a last big breakfast ashore in Genakers cafe - best on the island!
Conditions for the start were pretty ideal with a nice breeze from the East of around 12-17 knots coming across the Francis Drake Channel. Boats began to slip lines around 10am as the start was just outside the entrance to the marina. The start line was set in a north-south direction with boats crossing from east to west heading down the channel before routing to the north between the USVI and BVI and into the open ocean. Many boats buzzed passed the committee platform (hard to miss the giant crane on shore) to identify themselves and get a cheer and a wave. There was also a RIB out taking photos.
The countdown on the VHF helps identify the starting sequence and add to the atmosphere and when it came down to the final minute boats were approaching on port tack. First over the line was ‘Amanda’ followed by ‘Mad Monkey’ and ‘Carolina’ with lovely colourful sails. With boat after boat crossing the line it wasn't too long before they were all across and making a great panoramic photo against the backdrop of the green islands and blue sky. With a farewell and thank you for a great week and fun times, the boats were soon making miles and so Rally Control wished them all fair winds and safe sailing.
The fleet can expect some great sailing with steady winds to whisk them away from the British Virgin Islands, but those heading to Bermuda may need to use the 'iron sail' later in the week with a high pressure system sitting over the middle of the course. Two yachts have remained a little longer in Nanny Cay Marina but hope to join the fleet at sea later this afternoon. All boats in the rally are fitted with YB satellite trackers and positions displayed on the rally website and via the YB Races app.
Our hosts in Nanny Cay have been a great support once again, going above and beyond to kick off the rally in style and give all the participants memorable final days in the Caribbean.
Those sailing with lead boat Karina with rally veterans Mile and Anne Poor will receive a warm welcome into Ft. Lauderdale at Bahia Mar Marina and the Dark'n'Stormys will be on ice in Bermuda for the ARC Europe fleet's arrival.