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ARC Fleet Gears up for Departure

By Sue Richards last modified Nov 12, 2008 03:57 PM

Published: 2008-11-12 15:57:28
Topics: Rallies
Countries: Canary Islands , St Lucia

ARC 2008 | Key Facts

  • 220 yachts; 21 nations; 25 nationalities; 1,100 crew members
  • 34 children are taking part this year
  • Start date: 23rd November 2008; Passage usually takes between 18 and 21 days and covers 2,680 nm
  • Starts in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Finish is at Rodney Bay Marina, St. Lucia
  • Largest yacht is US registered Oyster 82, Sundowner at 24.99m (82ft)
  • Smallest yacht is Madonna, a Norwegian registered Bénéteau First 31 (9.95m)
  • Oldest Skipper: Lurelle Verplank - Sundowner (USA) is 77
  • Youngest Skipper: Fredrik Pedersen - Seafarer (NOR) is 24

23 years of ARC

Now in its 23rd year, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) has always attracted an international audience, and 2008 is no exception. The 220 yachts lining up to participate in ARC 2008 are representing 21 nations, and with 25 nationalities across 1,100 crews, the ARC is not only the World's largest transocean sailing event, but also its most diverse.

World Cruising Club, the organisers of the ARC, are currently gearing up for the departure of this year's fleet from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on Sunday 23 November. The destination is Rodney Bay Marina in St Lucia, a distance of 2,680 nautical miles from Las Palmas and it's a passage that will take most of the yachts between 18 and 21 days.

Conceived and often described as "a friendly race" for cruising yachts to make the Atlantic crossing both safer and more enjoyable, those participating must carry a range of safety equipment onboard including a liferaft, EPIRB and VHF radio. Daily radio nets contribute further to the safety of the crews, whilst the presence of many experienced sailors is another incentive, and a comfort, for those heading across an ocean for the first time.

The ARC distinguishes itself by successfully combining racing and cruising yachts with a mix of older and younger participants, all of whom thoroughly enjoy the varied entertainment that is on offer for all ages at both the start and finish ports.

Doing the ARC

For many the ARC is a "must do" event and the achievement of a sailing ambition. Within the fleet there are those skippers and crew members who say that they are doing the ARC in order to pit themselves against whatever the elements chooses to throw at them and to tackle what is for many a life-changing experience and to come out of it safer, stronger, better people and with new and lifelong friendships forged.

When you read through the daily logs on the ARC website during the Rally, you begin to appreciate just what "doing the ARC" can do to change a person's life...and it's usually for the better. Bookmark the website at

Some fleet highlights

The ARC fleet definitely represents typical offshore cruising boats with 49% of the fleet measuring between 12 to 15m LOA and with a median size of 14.30m (46ft 11").

At the top end of this year's fleet sits the new Oyster 82 Sundowner at 24.99m (82ft) from the US of A, whilst at the tail end lies Madonna, a Bénéteau First 31 (9.95m), sailed by the Bratbak family from Norway. Pål, Pauline and their three children Emil, Edvard and Marina, also take the prize for sailing with the youngest participant, aged just 8 months!

However, the accolade for best pedigree must go to an ARC veteran, Peter von Seestermühe. This 17.98m yawl has quite a provenance. She was built as an ocean-racer in 1936 in the Baltic port of Danzig and has crossed the Atlantic over 20 times, has sailed around Cape Horn and participated in the first-ever Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973-1974.

French yards still dominate the constructors table!

Dominating this year's entry list with 30 yachts are French builders Bénéteau, although cruising stalwarts Oyster (17 yachts) and Hallberg Rassy (15 yachts) are both well represented. There are 15 cruising catamarans taking part with the French yards Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot being most widely represented with six and four yachts entered respectively.

For all the latest news and features and to read the entry blogs during the Rally, log onto