Heading out into a cloudy Plymouth Sound this morning, seventeen boats have now begun their three week adventure sailing to sunny southern Portugal. This morning, the docks of Mayflower Marina were buzzing with anticipation as ARC Portugal crews prepared to cast off and said their farewells to one another and their friendly hosts in Plymouth.
In the past three days, predeparture checks from the rally team and a supported preparation programme has put them in good stead for today’s departure. At yesterday’s Skippers Briefing, Rally Meteorologist Chris Tibbs provided an update on the anticipated weather, which had been of much discussion this week. Models have improved slightly and although there maybe a short period of challenging headwinds overnight on Monday and into Tuesday morning, crews hope to head quickly across the Channel following today’s departure to avoid the worst of the approaching front. Whilst it may be a little wet and windy for their introduction to Biscay, the fleet are well prepared and have the promise of some sunnier sailing in the Portuguese trades later in the rally; certainly an enticing thought as the waved goodbye to England’s rather damp shores!
There was a steady S-SW breeze of 10-15knts blowing through the Sound this morning as the fleet assembled for the starting sequence off the Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club line, providing a spectacular sight for the early risers walking along Plymouth’s historic Hoe. Thankfully despite overcast skies, the rain held off for the start itself as Rally Control counted down to the signal at 0900. Plucky Moody 34 Sea Orchid and Regina af Vindö 43 Angelina, jostled for position to lead the fleet over the line. After a clear start, the fleet were whisked away past Drake Island and soon making good progress along the coast before the head across the Channel.
This first leg of the rally will see the boats heading to Bayona and our friendly hosts at the Monte Real Club de Yates. Rally Control will be continuing to monitor the forecast and provide the fleet with information about the conditions they can expect for the Biscay Crossing. Along with Rally Control, friends and family can also follow the fleet via the YB Fleet Viewer. First arrivals are expected to reach Bayona on Thursday where a warm welcome awaits.
Thank you to our hosts at Mayflower Marina, the Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club, Plymouth Albion Rugby Club and Horizons Children's Sailing Charity who have all played a part in participants' preparations and helping them happily set sail from Plymouth. Now the 25th edition of the rally is officially underway!