After a successful start and a good send-off for the ARC+ fleet who are making steady progress to Mindelo, Cape Verdes, it was time for the check-in desks to open for those taking part in the 37th edition of the ARC starting on Sunday 20th November. After months of preparation, the time has finally come to kick start their Atlantic adventure and it is an exciting time for all.
Crews are settling into life on the docks in Las Palmas following their arrival in Gran Canaria, and the ARC ‘yellow shirt’ check-in team were at the ready to explain the contents of the special ARC Welcome pack, give out rally numbers and to offer a wealth of advice in the build-up to the start.
As ‘doors’ opened today, there was a flurry of ARC participants waiting for their check-in where the World Cruising Club yellow shirt team can explain the Programme ahead. There are plenty of activities organised over the coming days - the aim of the programme is to help crews prepare and also relax before the voyage, so come start day everyone's in the best possible shape for the crossing. For crews already in Las Palmas, information about the programme is available in the Shop, via daily emails and morning broadcasts and in the pack of information provided at check-in.
Checking in this morning was ARC 2022 participant Anna Black from Emily Morgan (GBR). Together with husband Bones, and a crew of guests joining their Bowman 57, this will be their eighth consecutive crossing with the ARC, their first being the 30th edition of the rally in 2015 and then each year since. As very experienced sailors and ARC participants, Anna was relaxed this morning when asked about preparations, ‘As long as you can keep the water out and the people in and you’ll get there, you’re ready!’ Bones and Anna are well known for making their guests’ experiences memorable, and are some of the most popular faces on the dock in Las Palmas as they share their decades of experience with their fellow ARC crews. They were recognised in 2020 for their support of ralliers by being presented with the Spirit of the ARC Award. If you’re new to sailing in the ARC this year, check out their detailed ‘Top Tips’ article here for some great advice.
The Hamilton family on board Fountaine Pajot Elba 45 Starry Knight (GBR) arrived in Las Palmas two days ago and were eager to begin the rally programme after seeing the ARC+ fleet depart yesterday. It’s their first time on the rally and so far, they have been finding their way around the marina, with children Skye (6) and Oscar (8) picking out the best restaurants for ice cream. Before checking in with the rally team, they visited the ARC Shop, with Oscar proudly sporting the first ARC 2022 kids T-Shirt to be sold!
Before the final countdown to the start begins, crews are encouraged to explore beyond the marina. Participants are invited plant trees in the ARC Forest (Friday 11 November), supporting a local initiative Foresta that has seen thousands of trees planted by crews over the past decade. They can also arrange tours to discover the mountains of Gran Canaria, hire a car, and enjoy the best of the island with the Tourist Information representative in the ARC Shop.
The ARC is known to be a very social rally, and there are parties and events for crews almost every night. The first ARC Sundowner takes place this evening with crews meeting one another and sharing stories about their trips down to the Canary Islands over a drink or two. There are Crew Suppers for all boats, and special suppers for the family boats and those sailing with just two people, and a Yacht Club Dinner on Saturday night. In week two of the programme once most of the crews have arrived there is a 70’s Disco themed Costume Party and a Farewell fiesta on the Friday before the start.
The extensive ARC seminar programme begins on Thursday and covers topics from provisioning to rigging, electronics to downwind sailing. Held at the Real Club Náutico during the first week, and Club Metropole in week two, these seminars provide plenty of practical information for the crossing and top tips from the experienced ARC team with thousands of ocean miles of knowledge to share.#
Younger ARC participants aged between 6 and 16 years are welcome to join a week-long kid's club in week two. This gives parents a chance to get the boat ready in peace and quiet, and the youngsters something interesting to do outside the marina. The kid's club is run by professionals, and takes the children dinghy sailing, on excursions around the island, visits to museums and to fun parks.
On the morning of Thursday 17 November safety demonstrations take place, where the local rescue helicopter demonstrates high line transfers, and the ARC safety team demonstrate how to fire flares, and run a 'get wet' session with a liferaft in the swimming pool. In the mean time, the Safety Team, with a plethora of knowledge and expertise, will be out in force visiting boats in the marina to carry out safety inspections and follow-up checks. Mark from the Safety Team visited the double-handed crew of Talisman of Ipswich (GBR), a Bowman 50 sailed by Mark and Pamela Adams, a well-equipped and set-up boat which should enjoy a great sail to Saint Lucia. Those who have just arrived are able to book an appointment with the check-in team so that they have plenty of time to make any minor adjustments to boat or equipment before the start.