November has seen some near-perfect trade wind conditions across the mid-Atlantic for the 37th edition of the ARC which has meant a fast crossing for the fleet of 2022. So far, it has been a true ocean sleigh ride, a little rocking and rolling at times, but the boats have fared well, and crews have shown great spirit as the miles fall away to approach the shores of Saint Lucia.
Welcoming the first arrival
Regularly covering over 220NM per day it has been hugely exciting to watch the progress of Marsaudon ORC 50 Malolo speeding toward the finish line. Since leaving the shores of Gran Canaria on Sunday 20 November, Malolo headed well south of the rhumb line to pick up the trades. After a superb effort from the entire crew, the sleek carbon-composite catamaran crossed the finish line at 20:42:26 local time on Thursday 1 December 2022.
Canadian skipper Duncan Gladman and American owner Tom Kassberg along with 4 further crew sailed the Marsaudon Composites designed performance catamaran 3,108NM across the Atlantic on what proved to be an adrenaline-filled ride. They were thrilled to lead the ARC fleet into Rodney Bay, realising a long-held dream of Tom’s to complete an Atlantic crossing. Before leaving Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Malolo’s crew had certainly been picked as the ones to watch, bringing racing experience from several regattas on the west coast of the United States and having taken part in a number of ocean races in the Pacific. The ORC 50 was launched from the factory earlier this year and after Tom and his family had finished cruising in the Mediterranean the ARC beckoned to really stretch the boat’s performance capabilities.
World Cruising Club’s ‘Yellowshirt’ team were out on the finish line to cheer Malolo on and welcome them to Saint Lucia. After an escort into the marina, Tom and his crew soon tied Malolo up and leapt onto the pontoon to a rapturous applause from neighbouring boats and even crew from previous ARCs came along to congratulate them. After big hugs they were presented with a goodie bag and basket of local fruits and vegetables along with the keenly awaited rum punch. Tom said “I heard all about the traditional welcome rum punch and I have been looking forward to this moment.”
When asked how the boat fared and what the conditions were like they all agreed that the boat had been 'just great' and as for the weather they had experienced excellent trade wind conditions all the way only seeing squalls on one of the 11 days at sea. Beaming, Tom said, “I am really pleased with the boat and we hit a new record of 28.2kts which was at night with the spinnaker up so it was a big thrill.”
The only challenge they experienced was sailing through large clumps of sargasso weed which at one stage got so caught under the rudders the boat started to round up. Thankfully with a bit of clever manoeuvring they managed to release themselves and nobody had to take a swim.
As the rum slipped down the first question from the crew was, “Where is the best bar?!” followed by “What is the best local food to seek out?” With the support of Mario from Events Company Saint Lucia (ECSL), he was able to give them a guide to the local dishes such as Green Fig and Salt Fish along with grilled chicken and pork which is especially good on Friday nights at the street party in Gros Islet. Despite eating well onboard the crew were drooling at this point!
The arrival of Malolo officially kicks off the ARC programme in Rodney Bay where the WCC ‘Yellowshirt’ and ECSL teams, along with the IGY Marina staff, are ready to welcome the rest of the fleet over the next coming days. For now, celebrations will continue into the night for Tom and his crew. Tomorrow an official presentation for the first arrival will take place in IGY Rodney Bay Marina to celebrate their success.
Much more to come
Malolo’s arrival leads the fleet of 137 yachts due to make landfall in Saint Lucia with around 800 crew onboard. It’s a diverse fleet with boats of all shapes and sizes set to be welcomed to the beautiful island.
With the Open Division being exactly what it says on the tin, the next boat predicted to cross the line is the only motor vessel in the fleet, Alchemy a Nordhavn 72. Being able to take the most direct course along the rhumb line, they are currently expected in Rodney Bay with an estimated arrival time of 0800hrs on Sunday 4 November after a delayed departure from Gran Canaria.
The Multihull Division is made up of a handsome number of 36 boats this year, including Malolo, and their fellow catamarans and trimarans are also making quick work of the ocean miles so far. “We had some glorious sailing last night and today surfing down big swells at double digit speeds maxing out at 19 knots!” reported Chet and Jessy on Navasana, a Nautitech 46. They have just passed the half-way point, but the forecast is for lighter winds for the mid-fleet group, who can anticipate a further 8-10 days at sea. Closer to Sant Lucia’s shores, there’s a match race hotting up for a pair of newly built Outremer 55’s Catarsis and Chilli Pepper, diving well south in search of breeze, and the much-loved ARC Rallies regular Minimole a Neel 47 from Italy is currently on a more direct course to the Pitons; with 600nm still to run, it will be interesting to see how tactics pay off, with the next multihull arrival predicted around lunchtime on Monday 5 December.
Meanwhile, who will sail first into the Bay for the monohulls of the Cruising Division? It could be a matter of David vs Goliath for the classic cruisers; Feeling Good, the Southern Wind 82 has dived far south of the rhumb line, joined by Swan 60 Emma, whilst Shipman 63 Fatjax, X-Yachts Xp-55 Paradox and Swan 56 Toucan are all some 150nm north of them with bows firmly pointed at Rodney Bay. The Brits onboard a Dehler 42, Sunbeat VI, fuelled by bacon sandwiches, are leading the smaller cruisers of Class D and doing a sterling job of keeping pace with the bigger boys having sailed over 2000nm of the course so far.
As the excitement on the Leader Board intensifies so does the atmosphere in IGY Rodney Bay Marina. After a tough couple of years with the arrival programme curtailed by protocols, it is with a sense of relief that the bars and restaurants are brightly illuminated, and music is ringing out around the Marina boardwalk. The people of Saint Lucia are certainly ready to roll out the red carpet to ARC sailors with the warmest of welcomes to the shores of the Caribbean.