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Atlantic Rally: rousing conclusion

Boingo Alive - Winner Class C (Credit World Cruising Club / Clare Pengelly)

Boingo Alive - Winner Class C (Credit World Cruising Club / Clare Pengelly)

The 28th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) came to a rousing conclusion on Saturday night (21st December) with the prize giving ceremony in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia.

Crews, friends and families of more than 200 boats gathered to celebrate a safe and successful crossing, and the focus of the night’s festivities was not only the achievement of those who were first to finish in Rodney Bay, but everyone who shared in the spirit of the ARC adventure in 2013 since leaving Las Palmas de Gran Canaria four weeks ago.

It is often said that there is no ‘typical’ ARC and each year the fleet experience different conditions during their time at sea. For the cruising fleet, ARC 2013 was characterised by a slow start and wild finish as an unseasonal low-pressure system formed just north of the rhumb line. For their first days at sea, there were light winds and even occasional headwinds, before finding the full force of the trade winds roughly halfway through the crossing. During their final days at sea, much of the fleet experienced sustained strong winds and continuous squalls that tested boats, crews and gear as they approached Saint Lucia.

For the racing fleet, the low-pressure system offered a small window of opportunity to head north from Las Palmas, sail around the top of the low, and fast reach across the back to make straight for Saint Lucia. Max Klink’s Knierim 65 Caro (GER) triumphed and the crew smashed the standing ARC Course Record to complete the crossing in 10 days, 21 hours, 25 minutes and 10 seconds.

At the ARC prize giving ceremony, awards were presented for line honours and class winners including X-612 Diva (GER) who took Line Honours in the Cruising Division, and Lucky Lady (FIN) a Dufour 385 won their class (H) and Overall in the Cruising Division. In the Multihull Division, Line Honours went to Gunboat catamaran Zenyatta (USA), who also took the Multihulls Class A and Overall.

On the night, the biggest cheers came for crews who were recognised for their achievements and contributions to the overall rally atmosphere with special prizes awarded including the Double-handed Award, Senior Cup and Family Boat awards, along with accolades for Best Logs, the Fishing Competition and recognition for the Radio Net Controllers and Finish Line volunteers.

The Spirit of the ARC award was, as usual, saved for last. Each year it is awarded to the yacht that best displays the general spirit of goodwill and enthusiasm that the rally creates amongst the fleet. Owing to his assistance passing on weather information to the fleet, continued support year on year and enthusiastic welcome on the docks to yachts arriving long after his own boat, Ross Applebey of Scarlet Oyster was called on stage to accept the award.

Radio net controllers receive special recognition (Credit World Cruising Club / Clare Pengelly)

Radio net controllers receive special recognition (Credit World Cruising Club / Clare Pengelly)

In Detail

The 28th ARC came to a rousing conclusion on Saturday night (21st December) with the prize giving ceremony at the Gaiety Nightclub in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia. Despite the fickle weather, crews and their families enjoyed an evening of celebration as they compared stories about their adventures at sea and congratulated each other as the prizes were presented. The experience of crossing an ocean is one that few ARC participants will ever forget, and the focus of the night’s festivities was not only the achievement of those who were first to cross the finish in Rodney Bay, but everyone who shared in the spirit of the ARC adventure in 2013.

ARC+ Leads the Way

For the first time in its history, the ARC had two starts, with a vanguard heading out from Las Palmas two weeks before the main fleet. ARC+, as the new route is known, lead the way across the Atlantic, with 43 yachts taking the starting line and stopping off in the Cape Verdes before completing the final 2,000-mile Atlantic crossing. ARC+, despite leaving earlier in the season when the trades are typically less established, enjoyed arguably an easier, or at least more consistent, passage across the Atlantic and the route option proved a big extremely popular with this year’s pioneers.

Slow Start, Wild Finish

Unlike in 2012, when the ARC fleet got off to a fast and furious start, ARC 2013 saw calmer conditions and even headwinds during the fleet’s first days at sea. The unpredictable conditions caused several yachts to divert to the Cape Verdes to refuel. The strange weather pattern was caused by an unseasonal low-pressure system that formed just north of the rhumb line, in some cases even giving the lead boats headwinds. But by the middle of the passage, the trades had filled-in furiously. Sustained strong winds and continuous squalls for the past ten days tested boats, crews and gear, and those already in port dodged rain showers on the docks to stay dry.

A Record-Breaking Year for Caro

For the faster boats in the racing fleet, the low offered a small window of opportunity to head north, sail around the top of the low, and fast reach across the back to make straight for Saint Lucia. The brand-new German yacht Caro, launched in spring 2013, did just that, immediately heading northwest and aiming to get clear of the low before its centre advanced to the east. The crew, including many ex-Volvo Ocean racers, pushed the 65-foot racer-cruiser hard from the start and never let up. On crossing the finish line they had sailed nearly 3,000 miles to complete the course, and set a new record of 10 days, 21 hours, 25 minutes and 10 seconds, more than eight hours faster than the previous record held by Italian Maxi Capricorno in 2006. It was the second ARC for Caro’s owner, who completed the crossing in 2010 aboard a smaller yacht of the same name. The new Caro, according to builders Knierim, represents the realization of the owners dream yacht. Caro certainly fulfilled it in ARC 2013. Caro’s record-breaking run was so impressive that they finished more than 24 hours ahead of the second yacht, the Volvo 70 Monster Project (GBR).

Honourable Lorne Theophilius, Minister for Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries with the crew from Caro, winners of Class A and IRC Racing overall. (World Cruising Club / Clare Pengelly)

Honourable Lorne Theophilius, Minister for Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries with the crew from Caro, winners of Class A and IRC Racing overall. (World Cruising Club / Clare Pengelly)

Prize Winners Announced

With 213 boats having crossed the finish line in Saint Lucia (and all bar one in by 22nd December), the prize giving ceremony saw plenty of trophies awarded. What sets the ARC apart from other sailing events is the combination of serious competition and those playful special prizes saved for the end of Part One.

For the first time ever, the ARC awarded prizes for 10th place and 5th place in each class, a way to diffuse the competitive part of the ARC and award what essentially are fun, random prizes.

Another playful prize that happened completely by accident, was the prize awarded to the yacht Magic (GER), which were the 130th yacht to cross the finish line. Their local finishing time was December 15, at 15 hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds, and they were recognized for the “feat” on stage.

Other special prizes ranged from the Double-handed Award, Senior Cup and Family Boat awards, to Manufacturer Awards from Oyster and Lagoon, to website awards for Best Logs, awards for the Fishing Competition and recognition (and a bottle of Chairman’s Reserve Rum) for the Radio Net Controllers and Finish Line volunteers. Free Spirit (CYM) was recognized as 2013′s ‘Most Beautiful Yacht,’ as voted by their peers in the ARC fleet.

Part 2 began with the Saint Lucian National Anthem played live on a single steel pan on stage, which finished with a rousing applause from the delighted audience. Opening remarks from Simon Bryant, new General Manager of Rodney Bay Marina and the Honourable Lorne Theophilius, Minister for Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries followed. They, among other dignitaries, were then invited on stage to present the prizes for the winners of each class.

Scarlet Oyster (GBR), a familiar name in the ARC and nearly always at the top of the standings, took the IRC Racing Class B. The record-setting Caro (CYM) took Class A and the IRC Racing Overall.

The X-612 Diva (GER) took Line Honours in the Cruising Division. Line Honours are determined by the first yacht in the Cruising Division to cross the finish line in Saint Lucia without motoring.

“Amazingly, only six of the cruising yachts managed to cross this year without using their engine at all,” said Andrew Bishop. A much smaller number than usual, this was a telling sign of the weather at the beginning of the ARC this year.

Lucky Lady (FIN) took home the biggest prize in the cruising division. The Finnish-flagged Dufour 385 won their class (H) and took home the Jimmy Cornell Trophy for the Overall in the Cruising Division, correcting to first place over all the other cruising classes.

In the Multihull Division, Line Honours went to the sleek grey Gunboat catamaran Zenyatta (USA), who also took the Multihulls Class A and Overall. Polish catamaran Blue Ocean went away with the Class B Multihull trophy and second place in the Overall.

ARC+ LA Peregrina crosses the finish line. (Credit World Cruising Club  / Kieran Higgs)

ARC+ LA Peregrina crosses the finish line. (Credit World Cruising Club / Kieran Higgs)

Final placing for the other Cruising Division classes were as follows: Class I went to the Russian yacht Baron Brambeus; Class H and the SLAPSA Trophy went to the Finnish yacht Lucky Lady; Class G and the Adlard Coles Trophy to Prodigy from Poland; Class E and the Gran Canaria Trophy to Kathea (GER); Class D and the Saint Lucia Ministry of Tourism Trophy to Lisanne (SWE); Class C and the Saint Lucia Hotel & Tourism Trophy to the Swiss yacht Boingo Alive; Class B and the Saint Lucia Tourism Board Trophy to Zulu from Spain; and Class A and the Prime Ministers Trophy to the Swedish yacht Miss Malin.

Every year the Arch Marez Trophy is awarded to the yacht that best displays the partying spirit that Rodney Bay Marina founder Arch Marez embodied. This year the Norwegian yacht Liberté received the award, appropriately enough dressed in Christmas regalia and smiling all the while.

The Spirit of the ARC award was, as usual, saved for last. Each year it is awarded to the yacht that best displays the general spirit of goodwill and enthusiasm that the rally creates amongst the fleet.

“We’d like to honour tonight, someone who year after year has supported the ARC with their enthusiasm,” said Andrew Bishop. “This year he selflessly racked up a hefty satphone bill, passing weather information on to the fleet, and was on the docks greeting boats long after his own boat arrived.”

A stunned and humbled Ross Applebey of Scarlet Oyster was called on stage to accept the award.

“I don’t know what to say,” Ross offered. “I’m completely humbled by this experience. Thank you so much.” It was all Ross could do to keep from breaking down as he shook Andrew’s hand and exited the stage to large applause.

The ‘Spirit’ award closed the ceremonies for the evening, at which time Andrew Bishop announced the bar was open!

Participants then quickly filed outside into the garden area behind Gaiety for more rum punch. The rain held off for the remainder of the evening, and though the grass was slick and sometimes muddy, it didn’t affect the revelry. Crews celebrated their achievements to the sounds of the steel pan players, and ARC 2013 came to an end.

For full results, go here.

By Sarah Collins, World Cruising Club


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