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USA: Inaugural ARC DelMarVa Rally Wraps up Back in Annapolis

By World Cruising Club — last modified Jun 17, 2014 02:32 PM
17 yachts complete the 450-mile DelMarVa circumnavigation.

Published: 2014-06-15 23:00:00
Topics: Rallies
Countries: USA

ARC DelMarVa is a 450-mile jaunt around the DelMarVa peninsula, with stopovers in Portsmouth, VA and Cape May, NJ. Originally founded in 2011 by local sailing magazine SpinSheet as a bi-annual event, the rally, now run by World Cruising Club, will become an annual event going forward.

For many sailors accustomed to sailing locally on the Chesapeake, it's the first opportunity to stretch their sea-legs offshore and represents a 'bucket-list' item, now ticked off. At least two DelMarVa yachts (so far) used the rally as a chance to shake-down their boats and test their watch rotations for the upcoming ARC Caribbean 1500 in the fall.

"We learned so much on this trip, on the offshore leg specifically," said Gary Wells, skipper of the Amel 54Adagio, who along with Mystic Shadow will take the start in the fall bound for Tortola. "Now we've got the rest of the summer to make the necessary changes to the boat."

450-Miles in 3 Legs, 3 Ports of Call

In all, 23 yachts took the starting line in Annapolis, MD the week before, heading south down the Chesapeake on Sunday June 8, following the Skipper's Briefing the night before at J/World Annapolis. The fleet sailed upwind against an unforecast southerly making for an abnormally slow beat down the Bay to Portsmouth, Virginia, the first stop on the route.

"That was the longest it's ever taken me to get down the Bay," said Dennis Schell, skipper of Sojourner and the 'lead' boat in the rally. However, once the fleet was safely berthed at host Ocean Marine Yacht Club, the memories of the adverse winds quickly faded as stories were shared and the revelry got started at Roger Brown's Tuesday afternoon.

Leg 2, the longest at 160-miles, brought much more favorable winds. Rally yachts eased the sheets for the final jaunt into Cape May, NJ, where the Canyon Club Marina hosted the fleet. Normally a sportfishing haven, DelMarVa yachts stood out on A-dock, where they were all berthed together, and the crews shared stories and a pot-luck dinner on the pool deck.

On Leg 3, at just after midnight on Saturday morning June 14, the full moon - the rally was planned around it after all - finally showed it's face as the fleet re-entered the Chesapeake Bay, and Saturday, the rally's final day, dawned clear and cool, a fresh northwesterly breeze propelling everyone south on the rally's final leg.

"We set a speed record today of 9.3 knots," said one of the crew from Zephyr. Many others mentioned the same, as it was fast reaching conditions on flat water Saturday morning.

Prizegiving Party in Annapolis Wraps up 2014 DelMarVa

"Thanks to you all for coming this evening, and congratulations on completing such a big challenge!" said event manager Andy Schell as the crews sat down to eat. "It certainly was made more difficult by the adverse weather this week. You should all be very proud of yourselves. Let's raise a glass to a great accomplishment!" With that, the crews toasted their achievement and continued the revelry.

Though the DelMarVa was a non-competitive event, several awards were up for grabs. Some of them - like the Weems & Plath 'Navigator's Award' - were actively competed for, with crews turning in their logbooks to be judged on accuracy and traditional seamanship. Others - like the 'I'll Never Do That Again' Award - were more humor-based, and simply invented during the week as stories were shared among the fleet. To see the full list of awards, click here.

The evening ended by thanking all the sponsors involved in the event - including J/World Annapolis, SpinSheet Magazine, SAIL Magazine, Chesapeake Sailmakers, Port Annapolis Marina and Southbound Cruising Services, Pantaenius, and the Eastport Democratic Club - and crews filed out of the venue shortly before 9pm, heading into a gorgeous Annapolis evening.

Platinum Sponsors

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