You'll have to excuse our absence on SAILfeed in the past week. It's been full-on getting the Atlantic Cup and ARC Europe rallies underway here in Tortola. But it's been a blast too, and now the fleet is finally at sea! I wrote this press release just now to announce the departure. To follow the fleet, head on over to worldcruising.com. On Wednesday, Mia and I head to Bermuda, where the fun continues! After sailing in ARC Europe last year on Kinship, it's fun to be on the organizing side this year. Enjoy!
Thirty yachts hailing from twelve different nations took the start at noon today in the ARC Europe and Atlantic Cup Cruising Rallies. The 2013 editions of each event marks the first occasion in which both fleets took the same starting line, and will compete together in two classes en route to Bermuda.
Both events included a week of festivities in Nanny Cay, including the Farewell Supper at Peg Leg’s on the beach Thursday night and the final Skipper’s Briefing in Genneker’s Café yesterday. After a final check-out with the Rally Office early this morning, the fleet headed to sea.
Mad Fish, a family-crewed Moody S38, and veterans of last year’s Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, led the way across the start line, followed by Peter von Danzig and La Capitana, both also ARC 2012 veterans. In fact, of the 37 yachts entered into the two events, 32 have participated in previous World Cruising Club rallies, including several yachts from the 2012/2013 World ARC, which finished in Saint Lucia in April.
“I was just thrilled to have gotten round the world with you guys,” mentioned Steven Spracher of the Lagoon 380 Southern Cross. “I’m already signed up for next year’s Caribbean 1500,” he added with enthusiasm.
Four yachts will join the ARC Europe fleet in Bermuda for Leg 2 to the Azores, including Alice in Red, the lone starter from Ocean Marine Yacht Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, World Cruising Club’s new home in the USA. Alice in Red was set to depart at noon today as well, and should arrive in Bermuda around the same time as the BVI fleet. Avanti departed a day early on Friday afternoon, while Caiman plans to depart the BVI in the next couple of days and will catch up with the fleet in Bermuda.
An odd weather pattern in the British Virgin Islands was the talk of the morning on the docks as crews made final preparations for departure – the course to clear the islands saw the yachts sailing west around Tortola before turning north towards Bermuda, yet it was an upwind start.
“You don’t often see spinnakers flying on the IC24’s heading east!” Brendan Joyce, dockmaster at Nanny Cay Marina, dryly noted before the start. It was a festive atmosphere outside the Nanny Cay marina breakwater. The BVI Dinghy Championships were being held inshore of the ARC Europe / Atlantic Cup start line. So while the big boats jockeyed for position offshore, kids in optis and laser’s battled it out inshore. Miles Sutherland-Pilch, General Manager of Nanny Cay, was also on site for the start and wished the fleet safe and fast sailing.
The wind was blowing light out of the southwest, indeed an odd occurrence this time of year when the easterly Trade Winds are normally encountered, thanks to a weak low-pressure system centered just to the northwest of the islands. Most of the rally yachts took the start on the port tack and were able to lay a good course to the west and around Tortola. Once clear of the BVI, the majority of the fleet will turn north and aim for Bermuda. After a short break, ARC Europe yachts will continue on to the Azores, while the Atlantic Cup fleet will head back to the United States.
Another first for 2013 is the Atlantic Cup ‘Old Bahama Channel’ route. Seven yachts, all veterans of last year’s Caribbean 1500 rally, took the start with the rest of the fleet, but will turn northwest once clear of the BVI and aim for Ft. Lauderdale. The route will see the yachts sailing close to the north shores of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, sheltered from the Atlantic swells by the Turks & Caicos and Bahamas.
“It’s a really nice run, a great way to go direct back to the States” said Miles Poor, owner and skipper of the Tayana 55 Karina, and longtime supporter of the Caribbean 1500 and Atlantic Cup rallies. “[Caribbean 1500 vet] Rick Palm had done the Old Bahama Channel several years ago, and said ‘Miles, you really ought to do this.’ Last year we did it, and the year before we did it,” he added.
The Old Bahama Channel fleet will rendezvous at Bahia Mar Marina in Ft. Lauderdale for a final farewell dinner before setting off again to their homeports on the US East Coast.