Just four days to the start of the ARC

The pontoons in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, were a hive of activity this morning as thousands of crew on hundreds of boats readied themselves for the greatest sailing challenge of their lives. All were taking part in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers and will cast off their lines on Sunday morning and set sail for St Lucia.

Piles of provisions were stacked next to carefully dismantled watermakers and folding bicycles. Clown wigs and elephant trunks hung from transoms, the remnants of the previous night’s fancy dress party. Children darted around, oblivious that in just four days they would be embarking on the voyage of a lifetime. Meanwhile their parents went through the seamingly endless list of jobs to do.

There is every sort of boat and crew member – and they’re all in it together – united by their desire to cross one of the world’s great oceans.

? The ARC 2006 is celebrating it’s 21st Edition
? To date there are 233 yachts taking part
? 27 Nations are represented in the fleet of yachts, and many more nationalities make up the large body of crew taking part (over 1100 people)
? The largest number of entries is from the United Kingdom at 108 yachts
(46.5% of the fleet), a little less than last year
? Germany is the next largest group with 30 yachts (13% of the fleet)
? Other countries well represented are Norway with 17 yachts (7%), Italy 13 yachts (6%), France 12 yachts (4%) and USA 7 yachts (3%)
? Youngest Skipper: Georgina Eggleton, age 20, Elmo, GBR
? Youngest participant: Ingrid Vidar Baartvedt, age 1, Ringhorne, NOR
? Number of children under 16 = 26