Reaching the shores of Saint Lucia in just 11 days, 12 hours, 12 minutes and 26 seconds it was the Marsaudon ORC 50 Malolo and her crew of 6 experienced sailors who were the first to cross the ARC 2022 finish line under the cover of darkness on Thursday 1 December at 20:42hrs local time.
To mark their achievement and officially kick-off the annual ARC arrival in Saint Lucia, a gathering was held on the boardwalk of IGY Rodney Bay Marina on Friday, attended by a host of local partners, which provided a fitting welcome to Malolo. Master of ceremonies and ARC Event Manager, Andrew Pickersgill, opened the proceedings firstly by welcoming the crew of Malolo and all those who have been working hard to ensure ARC 2022 programme in Saint Lucia is going to be a great success.
Andrew continued, “This year’s ARC was certainly back to its pre-pandemic spirit in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and with 137 yachts, almost 800 crew from 36 different counties, IGY Rodney Bay Marina is sure to be alive with the unique post Atlantic buzz fuelled by Saint Lucia’s inspirational hospitality and with the majority of boats likely to arrive by the weekend of 10th/11th December the crews will have lots of time to explore and sample the local area before the Prize Giving in two weeks’ time.”
Following the welcome, General Manager of IGY Marina Rodney Bay, Mr Sean Devaux was invited to say a few words as hosts of the ARC fleet in Saint Lucia. He said, “We are proud to welcome the first of the fleet and it is an honour to host the ARC. We welcome the crew on Malolo and thank you for choosing ARC to cross the Atlantic and I hope you enjoy Saint Lucia and all the events planned for you over the next couple of weeks.”
The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority have been welcoming ARC sailors for over 30 years, with the annual arrival an important part of their events calendar. To represent the SLTA, CEO, Mrs Lorine Charles-St.Jules attended the event to say a few words. After welcoming and congratulating the first over-the-line boat she said “The arrival of the ARC makes an imaginable difference to the people of the island and greatly supports marine tourism. I hope you have a wonderful time in Saint Lucia.”
It was a great honour to welcome Saint Lucia’s Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information, the Hon. Dr. Ernest Hilaire to the stage. A great supporter of the ARC, the Minister was delighted to be able to attend the event and to mark the start of the ARC arrivals. He said “Welcome everyone and the staff of the ARC. One year on, we are grateful to be past all the COVID restrictions which allows all the celebrations to happen in true local style We are delighted to see you here this afternoon and that you can enjoy the wonders of Saint Lucia. The ARC brings tremendous revenue and coverage for the island and we are delighted you can enjoy the celebrations without any restrictions this year.”
After saying he would never be brave enough to cross the Atlantic in a sailboat, having spoken with previous ARC participants he continued “I realise and acknowledge the excitement and I have the hugest respect for those who achieve the crossing.”
And Malolo’s crew are certainly worthy of respect, completing the epic 3108 NM journey from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Realising a lifelong dream for Malolo’s owner Tom Kassberg, the crossing began with a flying start, despite the challenging swell off Las Palmas. The wind and swell stayed with them for the next 11 days with the classic trade wind conditions producing a very impressive crossing, averaging over 220nm per day and keeping their average speed in double figures with blasts up to an incredible 28kts, even at night.
Tom arrived on stage and addressed the crown saying, “I am so excited to be here and our arrival has far exceeded all of our expectations. I have had the opportunity to sail in many rallies and races all over the world and this is by far the best welcome I have ever received.”
For Tom, this has been a dream for 20 years to join the ARC. With great sentiment, he mentioned his father always wished to cross the Atlantic and never got the chance so it was also an important personal journey for him.
Sharing a little humour onboard during the crossing, Tom recalled how his crew member Nigel Oswald really hates fish and even requested the crew didn’t catch any during the trip. Rather amusingly Nigel was the only one who kept getting hit by flying fish in the cockpit and whilst off watch one night, unbelievably Nigel even managed to get a fish coming through the vent just above his bunk and woke him by flapping around.
Tom finished his kind words by saying, “We are excited to be staying here for a few weeks and we are very touched and appreciate everyone making us feel so welcome.”
Tom was then presented with a bouquet of local flowers by the CEO of Events Company Saint Lucia, Mrs. Lorraine Sidonie.
After this, the crew of Malolo, Duncan Gladman (skipper), Gavin Bracket, Brandon Davis, Sidney Gorman IV and Nigel Oswald were asked to join them and they were presented with a plaque from the Hon. Dr. Ernest Hilaire. The presentations continued with each crew member recieving a goodie bag from SLTA and a basket of local rums awarded by Kayode Francois, Production Manager from the ECSL.
To complete the proceedings, Andrew declared ARC 2022 officially underway in Saint Lucia and concluded the event by saying “Congratulations to Malolo on a fantastic crossing!”