ARC+ is part of the World Cruising Club's Atlantic Rally for Cruisers

The second edition ARC+ Cape Verde set sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria yesterday, bound for Mindelo in the Cape Verde Islands.

A brisk northerly wind provided near perfect sailing, with just a one metre swell making it a little rock and roll for some. The 51-boat fleet are set to enjoy some textbook tradewind sailing for the first part of their Atlantic crossing.

The ARC+ route option is part of the 2014 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers and was introduced for the first time last year to give sailors in the world’s most popular transocean rally a choice of routes across the Atlantic.

ARC+ sees the fleet sail to the Cape Verdes, and following the three to five day stopover in Mindelo, the yachts will re-group and head off across the Atlantic on 19 November bound for Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia.

This year there are boats registered from 22 countries, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, UK, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the USA.

Crew on board represent 26 different nationalities and are aged from eight months to 84 years old. In fact, for the first time, the oldest and youngest participants are sailing on the same yacht, Makena (USA).

There are nine children under the age of 16 as well as four-legged crew members Perkan the dog on Filizi (GRE) and Boris the cat on Lily (GBR). Regular ARC mascot “Ed the Iguana” will visit the Cape Verdes for the first time and make his annual ocean crossing with the crew of Delphia (NED).

During their time in Las Palmas, crews have enjoyed a pre-departure programme of seminars, safety inspections and social functions.

First boats to cross the start line

Always eager and back for a second year David Smith’s Voyage 440 Easy Rider 2 (GBR) was early on the start line. Purr-fect (USA) a Lagoon 380 sailed by David and Linda Witham, lived up to her name with a start that was just that as she sailed over the line closely followed by Makena (USA), Babsea (AUT) and Wipaca (CUB). A total of 12 catamarans make up the Multihull Division of ARC+.

Conditions were rather more rock and roll for the monohulls, with a 1m swell pushed up by an 18 knot northerly breeze making it a little uncomfortable for some crews as they approached the start line. Apollon (CZE) crossed the line first, followed closely by Hallberg Rassy 35 Shira (NED) and Dagmar and Jens Garlin on their XP-44 GarliX (GER).

The fleet is are now on their way to Mindelo, 865NM to the southwest of Gran Canaria.

The World Cruising Club organisers hope to be welcoming the majority of the fleet into Mindelo over Friday 14 and Saturday 15 November.

Although Nauticat 521 Apollon (CZE) took the start with the fleet yesterday, they returned to Muelle Deportivo due to some technical problems. The crew are hoping to restart today and reach Mindelo to join the second leg of the voyage.

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 fleet

The pre-departure programme has now begun for the crews of the ARC fleet sailing directly to Saint Lucia on 23 November.

After a spectacular welcome party hosted by the Las Palmas City Council on Friday night, crews have spent the weekend exploring Las Palmas, and many headed out to wave off the ARC+ fleet.

ARC crews will have a full programme of preparation seminars and social activities before their own start in two weeks’ time.


Pictures: ARC+ 2014 – Monohull Start Line © WCC/Johny Buraca

ARC+ 2014 – oldest and youngest participants Kai (8 months) and Jerry (84 years) sailing on Makena (USA) © WCC/Joao Buraca