ARC 2022 preparations in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

ARC+ 2022, World Cruising Club’s two-stage transatlantic rally to Grenada, set sail on Sunday, 6 November, from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with 90 boats spirited away by the gentle tradewinds bound for Mindelo Marina, Cape Verde for the first leg of their ocean adventure.

Over 400 crew are taking part in this year’s rally onboard boats large and small, old and new, and each felt a mix of excitement and anticipation as their ocean crossing began.

With a full programme of preparations running since 26 October in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the crews of 69 monohulls, 20 multihulls and 1 motoryacht have got to know each other well prior to departure. “With seminars on weather routing under our belt, and a smattering of celestial navigation, as well as important pointers on rigging and provisioning, it has been so worthwhile being part of the ARC+.” said South Africans Darrol and Kathy Martin and the crew of Disa (GBR), a 1988 Amel Mango. “We are filled with excitement and trepidation and have been saying goodbye to the good friends we have made on Pontoon K. We cannot wait to have the wind in our sails and be heading south to Cape Verde in our beautiful old boat, Disa.”

On the docks of Las Palmas Marina this morning, lines were slipped and the marina slowly emptied as the diverse fleet headed out to the starting area off the Avenue Maritima on Gran Canaria’s north-east coast. From the smallest boat on the ARC+ 2022 start line, Ciel Bleu (GBR) a Fountaine Pajot Maldives 32, to the biggest Oyster 675 Alika (GBR), it is the largest and most diverse fleet to be leaving Las Palmas de Gran Canaria since the event began in 2013. Celebrating its 10th edition this year, the two-stage Atlantic crossing has once again proved popular with adventurous families, with 36 children sailing on 18 different boats, the youngest being Herman Habenicht on Ballerina (SWE) aged just 3 years old. The youngest skipper, Ronja Dörnfeld is aged 25 and one of four female skippers to set off on ARC+ 2022 today.

First to start, 20 yachts in the rally’s Multihull Division got into position for the signal at 12:45 local time. Balance3 (FIN) a Lagoon 42-2 skippered by Pasi Heiskanen with his family on board was first over the line, followed by Indrek Prants’ Lagoon 50 Sirocco (EST), another family boat, then Hanuman (USA) a Catana 53 skippered by Steve May. Following their rockstar exit from the Marina with music and costumes, Piment Rouge (FRA) Pierre De Saint-Vincent’s Outremer 51 sailed close to the Aduanas Patrol Vessel Condor used by Rally Control for the start to get the offshore edge out of the harbour and was soon leading the fleet on the 865nm first leg to Mindelo, Cape Verde.

Then came the turn of Cruising and Open Divisions, a total of 70 boats. On point to cross the line first were the all-Italian crew of Azuree 46 Enalia (ITA) skippered by Alberto Rizzotti followed by Richard Hill’s Mazi 1300 Kirima (GBR). The impressive cruiser-racer Mylius 60 Fra Diavolo (ITA) with Vincenzo Addessi and crew showed its regatta racing pedigree and cross the line in 3rd place.

The ARC+ fleet is now on their way to Mindelo, on 865NM to the southwest of Gran Canaria. The weather forecast suggests north-easterly trade winds building through the passage enabling the boats to make good mileage, and the majority of the fleet are expected to arrive at Mindelo Marina, in Cape Verde over Friday 11 and Saturday 12 November.

The latest YB Tracking Satellite trackers have been fitted on board each boat, allowing family and friends to follow the fleet from the comfort of their own home via the online Fleet Viewer. Boats can also send blogs and photos, posted on to the rally website to share life on board.

As the ARC+ fleet left today, the pre-departure programme has only just begun for the crews of the ARC fleet sailing directly to Saint Lucia on 20 November. Before their own start two weeks from today, ARC crews can look forward to a full programme of activities to give them the best possible send off for their own ocean crossing.