Light winds and calm seas meant perfect conditions for the yachts (and one motorboat) taking part in this year's ARC+ rally


PBO was at the start of the transatlantic rally to wave off the boats in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria as they set sail for Mindelo, Cape Verde.

Fanfare on the breakwater as the ARC+ yachts get a good send-off. WCC/ James Mitchell

“It’s the perfect start and will be a lovely sail,” said Jeremy Wyatt of World Cruising Club. “These are ideal conditions to prepare the crews before the wind picks up to around 18-20 knots around the acceleration zone, which they’ll reach once it gets dark.”

First multihulls

First across the startline in the multihull division, was Balance3 from Finland, a Lagoon 42-2 skippered by Pasi Heiskanen. Next over the line was Indrek Prants’ Lagoon 50 Sirocco – the only boat from Estonia – followed by Hanuman from the US, a Catana 53 skippered by Steve May.

First monohulls

Of the remaining 70 boats making up the monohulls, first over the line was the all-Italian crew of Azuree 46 Enalia, skippered by Alberto Rizzotti, followed by Richard Hill’s Mazi 1300 Kirima (GBR) and Italian cruiser-racer Fra Diavolo, a Mylius 60 skippered by Vincenzo Addessi.

The ARC+ 22 fleet leave Las Palmas. Photo WCC/ James Mitchell

Already a familiar name on the world racing stage, Vincenzo was placed 3rd in the Racing Division of ARC 2019. Vincenzo wanted the biggest boat to go around the Mediterranean with his wife and grandchildren whilst being small enough to allow him to participate in the IMA world championship in the Mini Maxi class.

Average boat size

There are over 40 different boat brands represented in the ARC+, with the largest being Alika, an Oyster 675, and the average size being 47ft.

An unusual sight – Earendel, a Nordhavn 60 is the only motorboat in the ARC+ fleet. Photo: WCC/ James Mitchell

There is also a motorboat entry this year. Earendel is a Nordhavn 60 owned by Dawn and John Heffernan with a fuel capacity of 8,517 litres.

Of the 22 nations represented in the ARC+, the largest number of entries are from the UK (30%), followed by Sweden (13%) and Germany (10%). 18 boats have children onboard aged from 3 to 15.

Fast cats

Red Pepper, or Piment Rouge, an Outremer 51. Photo WCC/ James Mitchell

Being light and quick, multihulls are well suited to a downwind Atlantic crossing, and their shoal draft and roomy interiors make them a popular choice for Caribbean anchorages.

There are 20 multihulls in this year’s ARC+, including the Lagoons (52S, 50, 46, 450S & 42-2), Fountaine Pajots (Samana 59, Helia 44), a Nautitech Open 40 and Outremers (51, 45).

A return entry, Pierre De Saint-Vincent’s Piment Rouge was fourth over the starting line, after taking line honours in last year’s ARC+ in the Cape Verde to Grenada leg.

Camaraderie on the pontoons

There was a festive atmosphere on the pontoons, where yachts have got to know each other over the last few weeks whilst preparing for their Atlantic voyage.

Crews have taken part in a full programme of events since 26 October, with seminars on everything from weather routing to provisioning, safety equipment and liferaft drills in the pool.

Liferaft drills at the ARC+ 22 start in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. Photo WCC

“We are filled with excitement and trepidation and have been saying goodbye to the good friends we have made on Pontoon K,” said South Africans Darrol and Kathy Martin onboard their 1988 Amel Mango. “We cannot wait to have the wind in our sails and be heading south to Cape Verde in our beautiful old boat, Disa.”

Bittersweet moment

Also on Pontoon K was Sweet Dreams, a stunning wooden yacht, which Roz Preston and late husband John built together over 7 years with the help of students at Lyme Regis Boatbuilding Academy. It was a bitter-sweet moment for Roz as she set sail without her husband, who died suddenly in 2017.

Roz with crew Angus onboard Sweet Dreams. Photo: Ali Wood

“John always said building Sweet Dreams was his greatest achievement, so when I’m feeling old and tired, I remind myself what this is all about,” she told PBO.

Cruising cat (the furry kind)

Cesar, the only cat on the rally, was making himself at home down below on Marco Polo. A seasoned sailor, the Norwegian Forest Cat (from Sweden) has been sailing for many years with Marie Broman and Tomas Sweiger onboard their Beneteau Oceanis 473.

Cat on boat

Cesar the Norwegian Forest Cat relaxing onboard his yacht. Photo: Ali Wood

“He’s very relaxed, and much easier to care for than a dog” says Tomas. “He comes on deck for a few hours each day, but if the seas are big he’ll go down below and find somewhere cosy to curl up.”

Next stop Mindelo

The ARC+ fleet is now on their way to Mindelo, 865NM to the southwest of Gran Canaria. The weather forecast suggests north-easterly trade winds building through the passage enabling the boats to make good mileage, and the majority of the fleet are expected to arrive at Mindelo Marina, in Cape Verde over Friday 11 and Saturday 12 November.

Watch the fleet

The latest YB Tracking Satellite trackers have been fitted on board each boat, allowing family and friends to follow the fleet from the comfort of their own home via the online Fleet Viewer. Boats can also send blogs and photos, posted on to the rally website to share life on board.

ARC crews get ready

As the ARC+ fleet left today, the pre-departure programme has only just begun for the crews of the ARC fleet sailing directly to Saint Lucia on 20 November.
Before their own start two weeks from today, ARC crews can look forward to a full programme of activities to give them the best possible send off for their own ocean crossing.