Over 200 boats gathering in Canaries

Now in its 23rd year, the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) will see 220 yachts lining up in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands for the off on 23 November. More than 1,000 sailors from 21 nations will take part.

World Cruising Club, the organisers of the ARC, are currently gearing up for the departure of this year’s fleet whose destination is Rodney Bay Marina in St Lucia, a distance of 2,680 nautical miles from Las Palmas, a passage that will take most of the yachts between 18 and 21 days.

Conceived and often described as ‘a friendly race’ for cruising yachts to make the Atlantic crossing both safer and more enjoyable, those participating must carry a range of safety equipment onboard including a liferaft, EPIRB and VHF radio. Daily radio nets contribute further to the safety of the crews, whilst the presence of many experienced sailors is another incentive, and a comfort, for those heading across an ocean for the first time.

The ARC fleet represents typical offshore cruising boats with 49% of the fleet measuring between 12 to 15m LOA and with a median size of 14.30m (46ft 11″).

At the top end of this year’s fleet sits the new Oyster 82 Sundowner at 24.99m (82ft) from the US of A, whilst at the tail end lies Madonna, a Bénéteau First 31 (9.95m), sailed by the Bratbak family from Norway. Pål, Pauline and their three children Emil, Edvard and Marina, also take the prize for sailing with the youngest participant, aged just 8 months!

However, the accolade for best pedigree must go to an ARC veteran, Peter von Seestermühe. This 17.98m yawl has quite a provenance. She was built as an ocean-racer in 1936 in the Baltic port of Danzig and has crossed the Atlantic over 20 times, has sailed around Cape Horn and participated in the first-ever Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973-1974.

French yards still dominate the constructors table!
Dominating this year’s entry list with 30 yachts are French builders Bénéteau, although cruising stalwarts Oyster (17 yachts) and Hallberg Rassy (15 yachts) are both well represented. There are 15 cruising catamarans taking part with the French yards Lagoon and Fountaine Pajot being most widely represented with six and four yachts entered respectively.

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