Canary Islands: The Atlantic Rally For Cruisers 2018 Gets Underway

The popularity of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) only gets better with three different routes and three separate starts this year. ARC+ Saint Lucia and ARC+ St. Vincent have already left for the Caribbean via the Cape Verdes.

Published 6 years ago, updated 5 years ago

The ARC 2018

The popularity of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) is such that this year the rally has three starts. ARC+ is from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Mindelo in the Cape Verdes, then onto St. Lucia on 25 November. In addition, there’s the ARC+ St Vincent, which departed for Mindelo on 15 November and then, on the 25 November, to St. Vincent in the Grenadines. On the same date, the ARC will depart from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria direct to St. Lucia. As ever this is a truly international event with boats registered from 22 countries.

The docks of Muelle Deportivo in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria have been a hive of activity over the last ten days as crews of ARC+ 2018 prepared to lead the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers across the Atlantic. As so many boats now want to sail in the ARC, the traditional route of the rally has now grown into three waves of boats; the first two of which have now set sail bound for Mindelo, Cape Verde, then onto the Caribbean islands of Saint Lucia and St Vincent.



Start Day is the culmination of years of planning and the excitement was intense as final preparations were made, the last stores put away and crews made ready to slip their lines.

So this is it!” said the eager crew of British-flagged Allegrini, “For us, it has been 6 years of planning for ARC+ 2018! It’s so exciting that those years, weeks, and the final days of preparation have been all leading up to this – We can’t wait to start!

This year there are boats registered from 22 countries around the globe including Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Norway, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States of America. Crew on board represent 24 different nationalities and are aged from 3 to 78 years old.

The ARC+ route has been exceptionally popular with family boats crossing the Atlantic this year with 21 children under the age of 16 taking part. Regular ARC mascot ‘Ed the Iguana’ will make his annual ocean crossing with the Finnish family boat, Lunni.We have really enjoyed the ARC+ rally program here in Las Palmas,” said Satu Morri-Niemelä, skippering the Colin Archer 40. “From the beginning when we arrived to check-in, it was clear that the staff or ‘yellow-shirts’ of ARC are so experienced that all you need is to go with the ARC+ flow to get all the information and duties done. The Children’s Club has been great and meant us adults could attend the really informative seminars; we’ve got plenty of good tips and useful ideas for coming weeks. Now with our crew of six: 3 adults, 2 children and 1 Iguana, we are so happy to start.

Fair Winds

Gentle breezes from the NE, so typical of an ARC start, helped push the boats out to sea and on towards their first stop in Mindelo, a passage of 850 nautical miles. The starts were streamed live on the ARC Facebook page from on board the Alonautica Highfield RIB, giving the crews an opportunity to wave to friends and family watching online.

Light winds at the start will help settle the crews into life at sea. Forecast winds are expected to build, freshening to 20+ knots so it should be a fast sail to Cape Verde. ARC+ Rally Control expect to be welcoming the first arrivals in four days’ time and the smaller boats should all arrive in good time to enjoy a few days of exploration and relaxation before tackling the longer Atlantic stage to Saint Lucia in the Caribbean.

A Staggered Start

The Multihull Division, comprising of sixteen catamarans, and one trimaran were first to take the start, led over the line by British-flagged Nautitech Open 46 Offbeat, and closely followed by Passat II from Germany and LaDiala from Switzerland.

It was then the turn of the fifty-five boats in the Cruising Division. Crews prepared spinnakers and Parasailors just as the sun emerged from the overcast sky and the clouds began to part. Leading the charge, Norwegian Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 42i named Thilde crossed the line first.

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 and YB Races app. Boats can also send blogs and photos, posted on to the rally website to share life on board.

More Preparations

As the ARC+ fleet left, the pre-departure programme continued for the pioneers of the newest route choice, ARC+ St. Vincent.



The inaugural edition of ARC+ St. Vincent set sail yesterday from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria marking the second wave of boats in the 2018 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers to begin their Atlantic adventure. They now are on their way to Mindelo Marina, Cape Verde, approximately 850nm south of Gran Canaria. Whilst the number of boats in the ARC+ St. Vincent fleet is the smallest of the three routes, the types of boats and experiences of crews are just as diverse, representing 12 different nationalities and sailors from all walks of life. Heading out today were ocean sailing veterans with many miles of experience and new adventurers heading offshore, all eager to begin the first leg of their two-stage crossing.

With the start scheduled for 13:00 for all divisions, not even a passing rain squall could dampen the spirits of the crews on board the ARC+ St. Vincent boats. Just in time, possibly with some intervention from Saint Vincent, patron saint of sailors, the squall passed, the sun came out and a light north-westerly breeze filled in. In true rally spirit none of the boats were early on the start line, and it was some minutes after the starting signal was given from the start boat, the Guardia Civil patrol boat Rio Tambre, that the first boats crossed the line.

BellaRose, the American flagged Halberg-Rassy 48, came through the line first, making use of their ample fuel supply to motor with no sails up! Close by, and first sailboat across were the Canadians of Dobro Dani, the Elan 434 Impression.

The light conditions made for an easy start, with Tonia and Tortola 2.0 hosting their light airs reaching gennekers. Forecasted wind for today and during their first night at sea, is staying light as the boats head south along the coast of Gran Canaria. More favourable trade winds are expected around Saturday when the boats will be some 200nm south and well on their way to Mindelo in Cape Verde, with the first arrivals likely on Tuesday.

2018 is the first edition of ARC+ St. Vincent and following the 3-5 day stopover in Mindelo, the yachts will re-group and head off across the Atlantic on 25 November bound for Blue Lagoon Marina in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This new route choice has added extra capacity to meet the growing demand of cruisers wanting to join the rally and has appealed to sailors keen to break the ocean crossing to explore the Cape Verde Islands for a few days before their onward crossing to the Caribbean.

The rally buzz continues in Gran Canaria

Meanwhile, for the crews still in Las Palmas gathering for the final wave of ARC 2018, the route directly from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia, the busy pre-departure programme is well underway. During the next ten days, ARC Crews can look forward to preparation seminars and social activities with the rally spirit set to continue to buzz around the docks as the build-up continues towards the final start day. On Sunday 18 November, the international flavour of the ARC will be celebrated at the Opening Ceremony with crews parading around the marina with flags of the many nations taking part. With over 1000 sailors, supported by many friends and family, it is always a colorful spectacle.

Track the  ARC boats using the online fleet viewer here

Read their sea blogs here

The official entry list can be viewed here

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