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Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: 31st Atlantic Rally for Cruisers prepares to set sail

By World Cruising Club — last modified Oct 26, 2016 08:29 PM
It's a full house for this year's Atlantic Rally for Cruisers - Both route options are at capacity with waiting lists in place for the first time since the creation of ARC+ in 2013, allowing for a total of 300 boats to sail under the ARC banner this November. It's set to be the biggest migration ever to sail with the rally to the Caribbean shores of Saint Lucia!

Published: 2016-10-25 23:00:00
Topics: Atlantic Crossing , Rallies
Countries: Canary Islands , Cape Verdes , St Lucia

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria: 31st Atlantic Rally for Cruisers prepares to set sail

Las Palmas Marina courtesy of Graham Van't Hoff

ARC sailors have a choice of routes with the introduction of ARC+ Cape Verde, and two starts are planned for 2016:

ARC+ will depart Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on Sunday 6 November, with approximately 75 boats sailing to Mindelo, Sao Vincente, Cape Verde for a 3 to 5 day stopover before the restart to Saint Lucia on 16 November.  75 boats from 19 different countries make up the  ARC+ fleet this year.

The ARC fleet of approximately 225 boats will start their own Atlantic adventure on Sunday 2 November sailing directly to Saint Lucia.

Entries in the bumper fleet include two Comfortina 32s at the smallest end of the fleet, Anakin (BEL) sailing with ARC+ and Mosaikk (NOR) sailing the direct route. At the other end  of the scale is Ron Holland designed luxury aluminium superyacht lemanja (MEX), measuring  in at twice the size of a typical family cruiser that joins the ARC.  Alongside production boats  are wooden schooners and carbon fibre racers, and multihulls have proved extremely popular with an impressive total of forty catamarans sailing this year.

The “grand old lady” of the ARC fleet is Christophe von Reibnitz’s 1936 Henry Gruber designed yawl, Peter von  Seestermühe, which has been sailing with the ARC regularly since 1990, whilst twenty newly  built boats from manufacturers including Beneteau, Lagoon, Oyster and Catana will be  joining the fleet.

After the ARC Course Record has fallen for the past three years, it will be interesting to see if any of the 37 boats in the Racing Division, particularly cutting edge  pocket supermaxi Rambler 88 (USA) and two duelling Volvo 70s, Trifork (MLD) and Sanya  (NLD), can mount a challenge on Team Brunel’s record of 8 days 7 hours, 39 minutes and 30  seconds set in 2015.

Start from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Las Palmas has been the start port for the ARC since the very first edition of the rally in 1986. Around one third of the boats are already in the marina, with the remainder arriving over the next two weeks.   Official activities begin on Friday 4 November when the ARC Information Centre opens for  registration. The first social event is the Welcome Fiesta on Friday 4 November (participants only) and from then until the start there are parties, seminars and all kinds of activities for  ARC sailors young and old.

Start day is Sunday 20 November, and thousands of spectators will line the city shore to watch the 
start. The first start gun will sound at 12:30 for the Multihulls, followed by the Racing Division at 12:45 
and the Cruising Division at 13:00.

Landfall in Saint Lucia

ARC boats will make landfall in IGY Rodney Bay Marina, Saint Lucia after 2700NM of sailing.   This distance will take the fastest boats around 12 days, and the family cruisers 18 to 21 days.   Every boat will be welcomed on arrival (day or night!) with a basket of local fruit, 
chilled beers and rum punches. This warm Saint Lucian welcome is just the start of the festivities ashore, with the whole community of Gros Islet getting involved with the visiting sailors. 
The ARC brings significant economic and tourism dollars to Saint Lucia every December, and in  return provides the perfect Caribbean destination.

The fun starts in Saint Lucia on the day the boats set‐off from Gran Canaria with the annual ARC Flotilla.  
Fifty boats from the local community and visiting cruisers will sail from the capital Castries to Rodney Bay.  
The final festivity of ARC 2016 is the awards ceremony on 17 December, which rewards the 
fastest boats and special categories like ‘Spirit of the ARC’.

ARC+ Cape Verdes

Departing Las Palmas on Sunday 6 November, ARC+ Cape Verde includes a 3 to 5 day stop‐ over in Mindelo, Sao Vicente, which lies 850nm south west of Gran Canaria. The Cape Verde  Islands are ideally placed for the fleet to sail 'south until the butter melts', and will also  provide crews with an opportunity to discover the enchanting local culture, lively nightlife  and bustling food markets that make this group of islands a fascinating destination in their  own right.

Whilst below the rhumb line, the island's latitude at 16º50'N is right in the path  of the trade wind belt, promising a great sail for the 2,150nm passage on to Saint Lucia,  setting off from Mindelo 16 November.

ARC+ will have a week long programme of activities in Las Palmas beginning on 28 October, 
and includes parties and preparation lectures, as well as an exciting social events  programme in Cape Verdes and Saint Lucia. A separate prize‐giving party will wrap‐up the fun on 9 December, just as the earliest arrivals from the second start make landfall, giving  ARC+ yachts more time to head south and enjoy some Caribbean cruising before Christmas.

Economic Impact

The ARC has a positive impact not only for boat builders and marine equipment suppliers, but also for the economies of Gran Canaria and Saint Lucia. In 2015, ARC crews and families spent over €1 million ($1.10m) in Las Palmas, on berthing, marine services and supplies,  provisioning, restaurants and hotels. 
Over 690 hotel nights were booked in Las Palmas and over 1,400 flights booked to and from Gran Canaria.

Key Dates ‐ Atlantic Rally for Cruisers 2016

28 October: ARC Office opens in Las Palmas Marina, Gran Canaria

06 November: ARC+ Start: Leg 1 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria ‐ Sao Vincente, Cape Verde

11‐13 November: ARC+ Arrive ‐ Mindelo, Sao Vincente

16 November: ARC+ Re Start: Sao Vincent ‐ Saint Lucia

20 November: Start of ARC 2016 from Las Palmas

27 November - 01 December: ARC+ boats finish (approx) ‐ Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia

07 December: ARC+ Prize Giving in Saint Lucia

07 - 12 December: ARC boats finish (approx) ‐ Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia

17 December: ARC prize giving ceremony in Saint Lucia

Useful Links

ARC Official Entry list – www.worldcruising.com/arc

Tracking: follow the ARC boats online using the Fleet Viewer: www.worldcruising.com/arc/viewer.aspx

Read the ARC boats at‐sea blogs at www.worldcruising.com/arc/dailylogs.aspx

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Gran Canaria is a miniature continent
where centuries of rich history meet
natural spots
of great beauty.
The premier location for nautical activities
in the Canary Islands.

Over 200 boats and 1200 people take part in the ARC every year
2700 NM across the Atlantic from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia
A rally for everyone; families, racers, couples, big boats and modest boats
Two weeks of pre-departure activities in Las Palmas
Welcomed in Saint Lucia with a rum punch and a chilled beer
Fantastic achievement - crossing an ocean on a small sailboat