In an emotional evening, focusing on the achievements of the crews taking part in the 30th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), the traditional ARC prize-giving party brought the rally to a close for another year.

The awards ceremony, held on Saturday night at the Beausejour Arena in Rodney Bay, provided a rousing end to the annual ARC, and a chance to recognise the achievements of the fastest and slowest, the oldest and youngest, and the couples and families that are so much a part of this cruising classic.

It was an evening of celebration; a chance to cheer on friends and family members in the spirit of the ARC, one of camaraderie and adventure, which makes every one of the 1,122 ARC sailors a winner, not just those on stage to receive awards.

In what was a classic tradewind crossing, a mix of strong winds at the start, lighter patches en route and a final surge into Saint Lucia, ARC 2015 was straight down the rhumb line, with a high percentage of boats sailing the whole course, and recording some of the shortest passage distances seen in recent years.

The crew of Adelante waiting for the ARC prize-giving to start. Credit: Clare Pengelly

The crew of Adelante waiting for the ARC prize-giving to start. Credit: Clare Pengelly

ARC crossing record tumbles for third year in a row

Unprecedented in its 30 year history, the ARC course record was broken for a third consecutive year following ideal trade wind sailing. The Dutch VO65 Team Brunel took seven hours off the record sailing from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia in 8 days 7 hours 39m 30s. The ‘near-perfect’ conditions saw Team Brunel propelled towards Saint Lucia and into the ARC history books for breaking the record in the rally’s 30th edition despite sailing the longest distance of any ARC yacht this year, 3343 nautical miles.

Special achievement awards

In addition to the competitive prizes in the Racing and Cruising Divisions, some 40+ special prizes were awarded for a number of fun categories. For the second year, random awards were given to yachts, with 7th and 10th place finishers on corrected time in each class called to the stage to receive their special prize. Other boats were called up for crossing the finish line in the same order as their ARC ID numbers; two boats managed this feat, number 22 Albatros and number 30 Far Out.

Inua received the Smallest Yacht award, as well as first couple on corrected time, and Newfoundland the Last to Arrive award, having cruised to Rodney Bay via Barbados and all the anchorages in Saint Lucia!

The KAPRYS award for overcoming adversity at the start was awarded to the crew of Carpe Diem (GER), having coped with losing a young crew member in a motorcycle accident prior to the start. Unable to sail with the boat, crewmember Harris signed a flag with a good luck message to the crew, which was then carried across as their totem.

The Most Beautiful Yacht is a notable award in that it is voted on by other ARC participants. This year there was a very clear winner, Tim Aitken’s beautifully maintained Truly Classic 75, Braveheart of Sark. A fitting award as Tim was one of four skippers from the first ARC in 1986 back sailing in the 30th Edition.

The Philip Hitchcock Award for safety was given to the Polish yacht Lazy Beach for their excellent preparation in Las Palmas, setting an example for ocean sailors everywhere.

Incidents at sea

The strong tradewinds and fast passage times took a toll on ARC boats this year, with a larger than usual number of breakages of gear and sails. Pogo 40 Talanta (SWE) managed to finish despite losing one and half of their two rudders; Loupan had to sail 40nm upwind to transfer repair materials to SeaBee to fix another steering problem, and Emily Morgan met with Duffy to give them extra fuel following the racing Dufour’s dismasting early on in the ARC.

A crewmember from Lottus had to be medically evacuated following the sudden onset of symptoms related to a suspected brain tumour, and a crewmember on Hanse Sailor received medical advice from the fleet following a serious finger injury. Saddest of all was the loss of the yacht Magritte 12 days into the crossing, following an uncontrollable water leak on the 1981 Moody. ARC crews joined in spontaneous applause for owners Steve and Teresa Arnold, now safely back in the UK after being evacuated onto a commercial ship.

Many winners

After a break in proceedings, when a steel pan band played and ARC crews mingled over drinks and canapes Part 2 of the Prize Giving began with the playing of the Saint Lucian National Anthem, followed by remarks from distinguished guests, including Paul Ash general manager of IGY Rodney Bay Marina and the Honourable Lorne Theophilus, Minister for Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries.

Team Brunel scooped up both the line honours for Division II (IRC Racing) and overall division winner, with ARC regular Scarlet Oyster picking up first in Racing Class B. Whether swept up by the emotion of the evening or as a carefully planned move, the ARC crowded were on their feet cheering after Scarlet Oyster crewmember Tijs Van Langenhove proposed marriage on stage to his partner of three years Anna Vugbblija; the couple having met originally sailing on Scarlet Oyster. A surprised and delighted Anna said yes!

In the Multihull Division it was My Cherie Amour (USA) just ahead of La Caravelle (FRA) on corrected time.

In Division I (Cruising), Class G, sponsored by SOL, was won by Arion (GBR), Class F, sponsored by SLASPA, was won by Furia (BGR),  Antares (FRA), took Class E, sponsored by Gran Canaria. In Class D, the Saint Lucia Ministry of Tourism Class, the German yacht Blue Water Mooney corrected 1st and took the award, presented by Lorne Theophilus. Class C, sponsored by IGY Rodney Bay Marina and presented by Paul Ash was won by Raya (GBR). Class B, sponsored by the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, was won by Marisja (NED). Finally, Class A, the Prime Ministers Class, went to Spirit V (SWE).

Marisja took away the biggest prize in the Cruising Division, correcting on top overall and taking home the Jimmy Cornell Trophy.

The last two special prizes were awarded. Inua received the smallest boat award, and AWOL, was awarded the ARCH Marez Trophy for their contributions to shoreside activities, recognizing the late Marez’ contributions to the success of the ARC. It was his decision to expand Rodney Bay Marina in the early days of the event to accommodate the growing fleet.

As always it is the coveted The Spirit of the ARC award that was saved for last. This unique trophy is given annually to the yacht crew that best displays the spirit of goodwill and enthusiasm which the ARC creates amongst the fleet. After recounting what was an emotional journey for them, there was huge applause when Andrew Bishop announced that the Schjelderup family from Norway, Petter and Camilla with their children Oscar (12), Nicolai (10) and Joachim (4), were this year’s winners. They had overcome the challenges Atlantic weather and a leaking boat, sailing just as a couple with young children on board Live Edge, their 1976  Swan 47.

After thanking the dedication of the helpers from the Saint Lucia Tourist Boat, and the staff at Rodney Bay Marina, plus all the ARC sponsors in Saint Lucia and elsewhere, Andrew Bishop and his team were offered a standing ovation, and with that, the evening came to a close.