ARC course record from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia is broken for a fourth consecutive year

The super-maxi Rambler 88 has broken the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) course record with a time of eight days, six hours, 29 minutes and 15 seconds .

Departing Las Palmas de Gran Canaria at 12:45 on 20 November alongside the 212 boats in this year’s rally, the Juan K. designed cutting edge racer, owned by George David, crossed finishing line in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia at 15:14:15 local time (19:14:15 UTC) yesterday, 28 November.

The new time beats the previous rally record by one hour, 10 minutes and 15 seconds.

Record-breakers! The crew of Rambler 88 arrive in Saint Lucia © WCC / Tim Wright: Photoaction.com

Record-breakers! The crew of Rambler 88 arrive in Saint Lucia © WCC / Tim Wright: Photoaction.com

Fellow boats in the ARC racing division, including many of the previous record holders sailing on board VO70 Trifork, were left in their wake; even light winds were not going to stop Rambler’s mission to claim the record.

In 2015, Team Brunel sailed 3343.3nm based on the YB track at an average speed of 16.8 knots. Winds have been lighter than last year, however Rambler 88 took advantage of a small depression which formed mid-Atlantic soon after the start, enabling the boat to sail a very northerly route and then have a fast reach down to Saint Lucia.

Overall, they have sailed approximately 270nm less than Team Brunel, which has been a crucial factor for this year’s lighter wind crossing.

This is the fourth consecutive year that the course record has been beaten; a year ago VO65 Team Brunel claimed the title from Farr 100 Leopard by Finland. Mike Slade’s super-maxi had taken over two days off the previous record set by Caro, a Knierim 65 in 2013.

This was the first time sailing in the ARC for Rambler 88, and before setting off from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria project manager Mick Harvey said: ‘It’s been a really good experience dealing with the organisers of the ARC. Everyone is very helpful and it’s quite an eye-opener for someone coming from the racing side, which can be quite combative. George David, Rambler 88‘s owner, really wanted to join in with the ARC because he enjoys transatlantic crossings and scheduling-wise, this worked well.’

212 yachts depart from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and head for Saint Lucia. ©James Mitchell/WCC

212 yachts depart from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and head for Saint Lucia.

Rambler’s owner George David said that the main challenge this year was the weather and the lack of wind, which kept the crew guessing to the final hours.

He said: ‘Once we set off, we were confident we could make the crossing in eight days, but the record was less certain, right up until we crossed the finish line really. Two squalls came across us in the morning bringing torrential downpours but no wind so that slowed us down even more. Given the challenges this year, we are thrilled to have broken the record.’

Arriving in Saint Lucia, Rambler 88 received a fitting welcome. Not only did they break the course record, but they are also the first yacht sailing under the ARC banner to reach Rodney Bay in 2016.

Usually, boats from the ARC+ Cape Verde fleet have begun to make landfall, but the low pressure system haunting the rhumb line this year has slowed their progress. Sailing from Mindelo in the Cape Verde, they have a shorter distance of 2090nm for the second leg of their Atlantic crossing, and departed on 16 November, four days ahead of the ARC boats sailing 2,7000nm directly from Gran Canaria.

The rally control team together with Saint Lucia Tourist Board and staff of Rodney Bay Marina are looking forward to welcoming the rest bumper fleet in the coming days and weeks.

Find the fleet tracker at www.worldcruising.com/arc/

212 yachts depart from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and head for Saint Lucia. ©James Mitchell/WCC

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