13 January 2024 – Under clear blue skies and perfect conditions, the World ARC 2024-25 set sail today, when 23 yachts departed Saint Lucia bound for Santa Marta, Colombia on their 815 nautical-mile journey on Leg 1 of this aspirational round-the-world rally.
Rally supporters on an array of motorboats, yachts, ribs, dinghies and even a kite surfer gathered in Rodney Bay to send off the ARC Fleet and wish them well on their way. Out on the water to watch the start was the Minister of Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture, and Information, the Honourable Dr. Ernest Hilaire.
Prior to departure, there was an air of excitement on the docks as crews wished one another well for the voyage, with hugs and kisses for their newly made friends, and calls of ‘see you in Colombia’.
At midday, the Race Committee team, onboard the marine police vessel ‘PO11’, sounded the start signal of Leg 1. For those out on the water, there was a feeling of euphoria and emotion as boats joyously joined in the excitement, sounding their own horns with the crews cheering loudly.
Although World ARC is a rally not a race, friendly competition was already evident as the boats made for the start line under full sail. With 17 – 21kts of north-easterly wind, many of the boats had a reef in the main, but there were those who were going for it with everything up. It was a very close start with just seconds between the boats.
Fatjax (GBR) a Shipman 63, owned by Iain and Jacqueline Kirkpatrick, was first across the start line, closely followed by Bahati (GBR) a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49 and Crazy Horse (USA), a Sundeer 60. The rest of the fleet followed in close succession as they left Rodney Bay, keeping the Barrel 'O' Beef to starboard and making their way along the coast down to Castries.
Commenting on the rally start from his boat Dilema, a Moody 54, skipper, Tom Ogilvie said, “We were all buzzing as we crossed the line; pre-start tension behind us, a good breeze in the sails and the satisfaction of crossing the line without mishap put us all on a high. Long may it continue!”
While on Bluemoona, a Jeanneau Yacht 54, owner Antonio Armas said, “After years of preparation and anticipation, it marks the beginning of a dream. Very overwhelming!”
On reaching the turning mark, some boats were still sailing close together, jostling for position as they gybed away from the island that had hosted the start of their adventure. Raising their downwind sails, they made the most of the glorious trade winds.
From his viewpoint on the official spectator boat which followed the yachts to the yellow buoy marking the turning point, the Minister of Tourism, Dr Hilaire spoke to the fleet on the VHF Radio. He told them, “You’re looking fantastic out there. I want to say a special thank you to everyone. I wish I could be in your rally, but someone has to stay here to work, and to also welcome you when you come back in 2025. I wish you all the very best.”
The World ARC rally will head to Colombia, San Blas and Panama before going through the legendary Panama Canal. Once in the Pacific Ocean, they will sail to far flung islands such as Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal in Galapagos and onwards to French Polynesia – and that’s all just in the first few months
Paul Tetlow, World Cruising Club’s Managing Director said, “It’s been a wonderful week in Saint Lucia. We couldn’t have asked for a better destination from which to launch the World ARC. I would also like to thank the marina management and staff at IGY Rodney Bay Marina for being so accommodating once again to the rally. And also to Saint Lucia Tourism Authority and Events Company Saint Lucia for their marvellous support to this year’s fleet.
Our time in Saint Lucia has proven we have an enthusiastic group of intrepid world sailors, who are excited and well-prepared to set out on their epic adventure with World ARC. We have a friendly community building, and World Cruising Club looks forward to supporting the crews along the way to ensure this is a trip of a lifetime.”
Next stop for the rally will be Santa Marta Marina on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The stopover is one of the most popular on the World ARC route, with plenty of good food, exceptional beaches and warm hospitality awaiting their arrival.
World ARC is a 15-month round-the-world sailing Rally, covering 26,000 nautical miles, visiting 17 different countries and enjoying stopover programmes in 28 different locations.