ARC: Record-Breaking Rambler 88 arrives in Saint Lucia

George David’s super-maxi Rambler 88 has added a new accolade to her already enviable sailing reputation, as she crossed ARC Finish Line in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia 15:14:15 local time (19:14:15 UTC) on Monday 28 November to break the ARC Course Record.

Published 6 years ago, updated 4 years ago

Departing Las Palmas de Gran Canaria at 12:45 on 20 November alongside over 200 boats in this year’s Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), the Juan K. designed cutting-edge racer has been pushed to her limit by an impressive professional crew of sailing legends. Fellow boats in the ARC Racing Division, including many of the previous record holders sailing onboard VO70 Trifork, were left in their wake; even light winds were not going to stop Rambler’s mission to claim the record.

The new course record now stands at 8d 6h 29m 15s, beating the previous time by 1h 10 minutes and 15 seconds.

In 2015, Team Brunel sailed 3343.3nm based on the YB track at an average speed of 16.8 knots. Winds have been lighter than last year, however, Rambler 88 took advantage of a small depression which formed mid-Atlantic soon after the start, enabling the boat to sail a very northerly route and then have a fast reach down to Saint Lucia. Overall, they have sailed approximately 270nm less than Team Brunel, which has been a crucial factor for this year’s lighter wind crossing.

The Course Record gets a quicker year on year

This is the fourth consecutive year that the Course Record has been beaten; a year ago VO65 Team Brunel claimed the title from Farr 100 Leopard by Finland.  Mike Slade’s super-maxi had taken over two days off the previous record set by Caro, a Knierim 65 in 2013.

A growing tradition of sleek, high-tech racing yachts joining the ARC seems to have developed, with the rally offering a different environment to sail these impressive machines from the pro-racing circuits. This was the first time sailing in the ARC for Rambler 88, and before setting off from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Project Manager Mick Harvey commented, “It’s been a really good experience dealing with the organizers of the ARC. Everyone is very helpful and it’s quite an eye-opener for someone coming from the racing side, which can be quite combative. George David, Rambler 88’s owner, really wanted to join in with the ARC because he enjoys transatlantic crossings and scheduling-wise, this worked well.”

Harvey played down the expectation that breaking the record was a foregone conclusion when Rambler 88 set off from Gran Canaria, “I think every time we go out there with this boat there’s an opportunity to break the record, but the conditions at the start of this race didn’t look like they were going to be indicative of breaking the record at all. In Las Palmas, the fastest it looked was maybe 8 days, maybe, and it could easily have been as long as 9 or 10 days. Luckily they managed to hook into a couple of good systems initially and then they were off and running.”

Challenging Weather

Reaching the dock, Rambler’s owner George David echoed that the main challenge this year was the weather and the lack of wind has kept the crew guessing to the final hours, “Once we set off, we were confident we could make the crossing in 8 days, but the record was less certain, right up until we crossed the finish line really. Two squalls came across us in the morning bringing torrential downpours but no wind so that slowed us down even more. Given the challenges this year, we are thrilled to have broken the record!”

Crossing the Line in Saint Lucia

Arriving in Saint Lucia, Rambler 88 received a fitting welcome. Not only did they break the course record, but they are also the first yacht sailing under the ARC banner to reach Rodney Bay in 2016.

Usually, boats from the ARC+ Cape Verde fleet have begun to make landfall, but the low-pressure system haunting the rhumb line this year has slowed their progress. Sailing from Mindelo in Cape Verde, they have a shorter distance of 2090nm for the second leg of their Atlantic crossing, and departed on Wednesday 16 November, four days ahead of the ARC boats sailing 2,7000nm directly from Gran Canaria.

It’s a testament to Rambler’s navigation and tactics that they have to lead the advent of ARC yachts into Saint Lucia. The ARC Rally Control team together with the Saint Lucia Tourist Board and the staff of Rodney Bay Marina are looking forward to welcoming the rest of this year’s bumper fleet over the coming days and weeks.

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