A ‘fast’ passage for the 30th anniversary Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) saw all boats complete the 2,700nm crossing within an ‘unprecedented’ 24 days.

There have been many dramas since the yachts set sail from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria on 22 November.

The yacht Magritte sank and its crew evacuated onto a cargo ship, a Dufour 34P Duffy dismasted, another boat hit a whale, two yachts lost rudders among multiple other gear failures, there was a medical emergency airlift and a sailor almost lost a finger.

Yet the vast majority of participants enjoyed a safe passage, and spirits were high upon reaching the Caribbean after almost three weeks crossing the Atlantic.

First-time ARC sailor Anna Mayor, of the double-handed Rustler 42 yacht Pantalaimon II said: ‘It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.’

The Contessa 32 Pisces arriving at Rodney Bay Marina, St Lucia. Credit: Clare Pengelly/World Cruising Club

The Contessa 32 Pisces arriving at Rodney Bay Marina, St Lucia. Credit: Clare Pengelly/World Cruising Club

Paul Thompson and David Everett received a joyous welcome when they sailed into Rodney Bay, St Lucia on the second smallest ARC yacht, a Contessa 32 Pisces on 15 December after crossing the sea with a broken fridge, a ‘mangled toe’ and five days spent becalmed.

David said: ‘Paul estimated 24 days but we did it in 22, it’s a personal best.’

Andrew Bishop, managing director of World Cruising Club, which runs the ARC, said: ‘The 30th anniversary has been a record year in terms of the total number of boats, 256 across both the ARC and ARC+ events. It’s the largest we’ve ever done in any one season going across the Atlantic.

‘And of course the new course record was set by VO65 Team Brunel, they actually sailed the furthest distance of more than 3,300nm of any boat with the ARC this year. At one point they slowed down to lower the mainsail to repair the main before carrying on at full speed, it’s seriously impressive.

Team Brunel arrive in Saint Lucia to set a new ARC Course Record of 8d 7h 39m 30s © WCC

Team Brunel arrive in Saint Lucia to set a new ARC Course Record of 8d 7h 39m 30s © WCC

‘The other thing that’s been great is the consistent winds for the crossing. There have been a couple of days when the winds were lighter but the majority of the fleet enjoyed consistent wind for the whole trip including the boats coming in towards the end. They may have had lighter winds but they were still consistent.’

He added: ‘All the boats enjoyed a faster crossing that normal with the last boat finishing on day 24, it’s unprecedented.

‘Another good thing for me is the way that the ARC+ has grown and settled down and matured. We’re now seeing a good number of boats taking part in that event, from a wide spectrum, mirroring the participants we get on the ARC. Now the ARC+ has the same mix of boats, with larger boat, catamarans, boats with couples and children. It really is now a mini ARC, the advantage is that have a stop in Mindelo, Cape Verde therefore participants have the opportunity to get to know each other much better, when they arrive they are a tighter group. They also get to visit another island.’

Andrew added: ‘Whilst there have been a lot of breakages and some more serious incidents with this year’s ARC, what’s been really good is the way they’ve been handled and kept under control with many boats solving their own problems at sea and only calling for help when they really need it.

‘The man with the injured finger was helped by a fellow ARC participant, who gave advice by radio. Initially the medical emergency was going to be dealt with by asking for drugs throughout the fleet. When it became more serious the authorities were involved.

‘The dismasting was very much dealt with by the boat initially, then they got help from a fellow boat in the ARC within a few hours, who offered to give them more fuel so they could motor back. Only once the situation was under control were the relevant authorities notified.

‘With the more serious emergency where Magritte was taking on water rapidly, they quite rightly called a Mayday and that was dealt with very efficiently by the relevant authorities, firstly Falmouth and then Cape Verde. Within a few hours a ship had diverted, the crew were taken off and very sadly the boat sank. It was all dealt with in a very professional, calm way.’

Find out more and a full list of results at www.worldcruising.com/arc/