And they are off! Spectacular is one of the few words able to describe the magnificent panorama of the ARC 2023 yachts sailing towards the horizon at the start of the 2,700-mile journey to St. Lucia.
Days and often years of preparation are over. The ARC 2023 saw 156 yachts cross the start line at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria in light 8-10 knot winds, hot sunshine and blue skies. The Spanish Navy offshore patrol vessel Rayo fired the starting gun.
‘It is a tremendous sight to see close to 160 yachts heading for the horizon,’ said World Cruising Club Managing Director Paul Tetlow. ‘The weather conditions are light. The stronger trade winds will kick in a couple of days. We wish them all safe passage.’
The ARC 2023 is back to pre-Covid levels with the largest-ever fleet of multihulls – 43 in number – plus one trimaran, a Neel 43 MiaMaGiR (FRA) – and a competitive Racing Division with 13 yachts. There are over 90 yachts in the Cruising Division.
The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), organised by the World Cruising Club, brings together cruising sailors, families and professional racers for the Atlantic crossing and this highly social element adds to the joy of the ARC.
In the ARC 2023, there are 10 boats with families and 17 children under the age of 16, with the youngest aged just two.
The ARC 2023 start
The fleet was split into three classes for the staggered start: Division IV (Multihulls) and Division V (Open), followed by Division II (IRC Racing) and Division I (Cruising).
First across the line was the Outremer 51 multihull Piment Rouge (FRA), skippered by Pierre de Saint-Vincent, followed by Marjolijn van Oordt’s Swan 52-3 Gaia (NLD) in the racing division. The British Farr 65 Celeste of Solent, skippered by Svante Jacobsson led the Cruising Division.
For the racing yachts, the journey could be as short as just over a week. The current crossing record stands at 8 days, 6 hours and 29 minutes, set by George David in 2016 aboard the super-maxi Rambler 88. But for the smaller boats, the crossing could be closer to a month.
A dream come true
For many, it is a dream to cross the Atlantic and has taken years of preparation and planning just to get to the start. For the lucky few, it is the start of bluewater cruising around the world.
The smallest boat is the Italian-flagged Grand Soleil 34 Lady Eleonora at 10.11m. The smallest multihull is Tanoa (DEU) a Privilege 37 at 11.2m. Some 8% of the fleet is under 12m, and 41% of the fleet is between 12.06 and 15m.
The magnificent Alloy Yachts-built Irelanda (MLT) is the largest in the fleet at 32m and the largest multihull is Meribel (EST) a 20.55m Lagoon Sixty 5.
Sail south ’till the butter melts
Meteorologist Chris Tibbs outlined the expected conditions for the first week at the skippers’ briefing: ‘With a low-pressure system currently over the Azores and a large low in the mid-Atlantic, we are expecting light winds (10-15 knots) for the start of the rally and the first couple of days of the crossing.
‘As the fleet head south towards the acceleration zone, the wind is likely to back to the north and possibly increase to 15-20 knots.’
It seems likely that the fleet will chose the traditional ‘sail south until the butter melts’ route as this looks to be the most favourable.
Follow the fleet at: www.worldcruising.com
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