The countdown is on before the ARC fleet departs Las Palmas and skippers and crew alike are getting stuck into final preparations. Seemingly every boat has someone aloft and each dock is an obstacle course of drink crates, shopping carts and sail bags. Anticipation is building by the second and the days are jam packed for many between seminars and the last minute preparations.
Fortunately the nights allow a break from the intensity of the final few days. Sundowners on Monday and Tuesday, sponsored by Admiral Insurance and Yachting World respectively, were both met with a terrific turnout and provided a nice relief for those who just hours before were deep in bilges and sweating in cramped engine compartments. For those wanting to get another meal in that wasn’t made on board, the ARC crew suppers took place on Monday and Tuesday. Participants enjoyed a three course meal and drinks at the Embarcadero restaurant and the final count was well over three hundred attendees over the two evenings.
This morning there was a rush of skippers visiting the ARC platform to collect their YB Trackers – these GPS units will mean friends and family can follow the boats on the ARC Fleet Viewer and via the YB Races app. They’ll also be under the watchful eye of ARC Rally Control and provide ETAs as the boats approach Saint Lucia.
Also well underway this week are the ARC seminars, covering everything from Rigging and Provisioning to First Aid and Managing Emergencies at Sea. One of the most popular seminars on the programme was Chris Tibbs’ Route & Weather Overview and Jenelle Ernest from the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority shared what delights await on arrival in the Caribbean. If crews were not already excited to head to the Saint Lucia, they certainly are now after hearing about the sulphur springs, sandy beaches and of course the famous Pitons.
Back to focusing on the final preparations in Las Palmas, tomorrow’s Safety Demonstrations are a highlight for ARC crews. It’s a great opportunity to see what happens in an Air-Sea Rescue, experience holding a live flare and climb aboard a liferaft – all things that no sailor wants to experience for real, but should be prepared for. These interactive demonstrations, led by Roger Seymour – chief ARC Safety Inspector and Senior Instructor at Hamble School of Yachting – will see hundreds of crews refreshing their knowledge gleaned from previous courses.
Leading up to departure the clock is certainly ticking down but tonight will be one of the most legendary parties of the ARC social programme – the costume party with this year’s theme ‘Once Upon a Time
’. Great fun for all ages, there’ll be an array of characters from children’s stories gathering in the Sotavento Centre for a night of drinks and dancing.