Thursday, December 10, 2009

The ARC Comes to St. Lucia

The ARC has arrived!
The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, better known as the ARC, is a rally for cruisers crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The rally starts from the Canary Islands and ends in St. Lucia 2700 miles away. The vast majority are cruising boats who enjoy the idea of making the crossing in the company of others. 206 boats were at the start this year.
Although the rally has always been a fun event, over the years it became apparent that some of the boats wanted to compete so a racing division was added. In an amazing finish this year, only 16 minutes 5 seconds separated the first 2 finishers. Unfortunately for us, the finish was at 3:36 a.m. local time on December 4th and too dark to get pictures. We understand it came down to a gybing duel over the last 24 hours with the yacht "Big One", a Volvo 60 the victor.
This is "Bagheera", a Wally 80 that took second place overall but came in first in the racing division. To give you an idea of just how big a 80 ft racing yacht is look at the man in the yellow shirt who is standing on the stern of the boat. He looks very small in comparison!

Here's one of the docks bustling with activity as crews tidy up their boats, fold sails and wash the salt off after several weeks at sea. The smallest cruising boats may take close to a month to arrive but as of today almost half have completed the trip that began 18 days ago. You must be at least 27 feet in length to enter so Merengue would just qualify.
Hmmm... what do you think?
The two smallest boats in the rally are a 29 footer from Great Britain and a 31 footer from Sewden.
Here's one of the boats on the final tack across the finish line in Rodney Bay. Notice how the spinnaker is stuck with only the top and bottom furled in behind the genoa? An ocean race takes it's toll on boats in broken parts and ripped sails.

We are spending our days watching the yachts come in and waiting for the ocean conditions to improve so we can move north. The seas are expected to reach 10-14 feet for the next week so we are sitting tight. The ARC boats are downwind sailing and surfing down the big waves. We have to head north and won't attempt bashing into waves that size. So we wait.....