November 12 2017
Assembling in the Las Palmas Marina, Muelle Deportivo, flag bearers from different nations joined the procession as it made its way around the marina.
The grand parade had a real festival atmosphere and many crews took part in the patriotic display by bringing a boat's mascot or dressing up for the occasion. Following the principal flags of Spain, Gran Canaria and Saint Lucia, the international conga line was led by the Banda Gran Canaria, with the Bateria Samba da Ilha beating a salsa rhythm at the back.
A warm welcome to the ARC sailors was made by World Cruising Club's Managing Director Andrew Bishop who thanked the many organisations who have supported the rally's time in Gran Canaria.
These include Juan Francisco Martin, Director Comercial de la Autoridad Portuaria de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria - the marina that accommodates the multinational ARC fleet, as well as the Tourist Board of Gran Canaria and the Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria who continue to host over a thousand ARC participants every year providing a wonderful venue for their preparations. Consejera de Turismo del Cabildo de Gran Canaria, Señorita Inés Jiménez then spoke to recognise the importance of the international event to the island of Gran Canaria and wished the sailors all the best for their voyage to Saint Lucia.
The attraction to sail in company as one fleet has continued to have undaunted appeal for thousands of international sailors in the 32 year history of the rally. Many participants are now coming full circle, following in their parents, or grandparents, footsteps by sailing in the ARC with their own families, and in some cases on board the same boats. 37 children are sailing with the rally and the tradition looks to continue for future generations too!
The ARC has one of the most diverse fleets of any sailing regatta with boats from 30ft to almost 100ft sailing the same ARC transatlantic course. The average cruising boat can expect to arrive in Saint Lucia in 18 to 21 days, but the competitive Racing Division will hope to reach the rum punch much sooner. Multihulls have proved extremely popular this year with 29 catamarans, and 2 trimarans taking part.
As start day, Sunday 19 November, draws nearer preparations for the crossing increase urgency as provisions are stowed, equipment is checked and re-checked and further crew members fly in daily to join the yachts. World Cruising Club, together with local supporters including Tourist Board of Gran Canaria and the Ayuntamiento de las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the Port Authority and local chandlery Rolnautic organise an extensive programme for the participants. In week two of the programme, many will take advantage of the free seminars lead by some of the most respected cruising sailors and marine specialists in the industry. The infamous ARC social programme is a fun way for participants to get to know one another, and form an Atlantic crossing community before they head out to sea.
ARC+ arrivals in Mindelo, Cape Verdes
The ARC is now one Atlantic rally with two routes and the ARC+ Cape Verdes fleet are steadily arriving into Marina Mindelo, on São Vicente. 69 boats left from Gran Canaria one week ago and tales of their days at sea on the first leg of their two stage crossing have included numerous fishing triumphs, multiple wildlife sightings, and personal best speed records as they sailed away from the Canary Islands. The first boat to arrive after leading the fleet from day one was Altair, the 100ft Sparkman & Stevens Sloop who covered the 850nm passage in just over 4 days. Light winds stalled some of the later arrivals but, with the exception of Sauvage and Helmi who departed late from Las Palmas, the ARC+ fleet will be complete in Mindelo by the end of the day and crews who have arrived over the course of the weekend are enjoying exploring São Vicente. The 69 boats in the ARC+ fleet will depart for Leg 2 of their transatlantic crossing on Wednesday 15th November bound for Saint Lucia.