Today saw the start of the ARC 2022 seminar programme, a series of lectures and presentations on topics relevant to Atlantic sailing. The series, which runs over 7 days in the build up to the start of the ARC, is planned to help ARC sailors prepare themselves and their boats for the ocean passage ahead.
The first sessions today focused on sharing knowledge gathered from 35 years of running the ARC. Chris Tibbs, a veteran ocean sailor with 300,000 nautical miles of experience both as a professional yacht skipper and racing tactician, and also as a bluewater family cruiser, was first up sharing his views on planning for emergencies at sea. A problem shared is a problem halved, and the ARC crews were able to hear Chris’ top-tips in areas such as coping with steering loss, water ingress, fire and crew-overboard. “I knew that I was going to get nervous listening to the Management of Emergencies presentation said Maria on Vitamin Sea, one of 11 double-handed couples in the ARC this year. “But I found out that I am not the only one feeling that way, and it was really useful listening to Chris” she continued. “We’ve picked up some tips that we are going to apply on our own boat, a Beneteau Oceanis 43.
Another area of concern for many crews is the huge task of planning and provisioning for a transatlantic crew. Clare Pengelly has been interviewing ARC crews for the last 10 years and brought together a compendium of ‘what works’ for food selection, management and storage at sea. Her tips on all things from which vegetables to choose for longest ‘boat life’, to how to manage your fridge and freezer in hot climates were very popular and prompted lots of questions, both from the in-person audience, and the online viewers. Continuing the theme of sharing knowledge for safety, Andrew and Swade Pickersgill lead a discussion workshop focused on best-practice for safe and enjoyable double-handed sailing.
Patrick from Tethys commented after “We’re sailing the ARC with crew but plan to spend our season double-handing around the Caribbean after, so we found this very useful. The ARC is a ‘test sail’ for us to see if we enjoy bluewater cruising and want to go further.”
Weather for the ARC is always a ‘hot-topic’ for discussions on the dockside, and whilst it is too early to realistically say what this year’s crossing will be like, ARC ‘met-man’ Chris Tibbs delivered a popular presentation on how the Atlantic weather systems work, some of the weather hazards to be aware of, and ways to obtain weather forecasts whilst at sea.
Neil Brinsdon of Advanced Rigging and Hydraulics is out here in Las Palmas offering rig inspections and guidance to ARC skippers. His well-attended lecture today covered the key areas to check and inspect on a yacht rig whilst at sea; best-practices for skippers to do their own rig checks, and guidance on how to cope with rigging failures ranging from a broken wire strand, right through to a complete rig failure. Other top tips included why skippers should know and understand their own rigs fully, giving a complete picture of why and how different components can fail.
Our final session today, and always a popular one, was downwind sailing. Once again Chris Tibbs was able to share his thoughts and tips for safe and trouble-free downwind sailing based on his own many thousands of ocean miles. With a wide variety of boats in the ARC fleet, the best choice of downwind rig is widely debated amongst skippers, so having a clear view about the impact of crew numbers, weather conditions and skill levels on a chosen sail plan was well received, with many questions from the floor about different ways to set up ARC boats for the transat.