The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) has always been about the challenge of an Atlantic crossing, whether for first timers in a family cruising boat, or experienced sailors pushing for a personal best crossing time on a racing yacht.
ARC 2011 start
Although originally solely a fun rally for cruising boats, within a few years of the first ARC in 1986, it became apparent that many crews wanted to compete rather than simply cruise across the ocean. In 1989, a racing division was introduced to the ARC to enable anyone wishing to race to pit their skills against likeminded sailors. Since then, racers have made up around 15% of the fleet, competing using the IRC rating system.
Holding true to the spirit of the ARC, the racing division is very much a Corinthian event, offering club level racing on a transatlantic course and as such attracts a broad range of boats and crews. Crews of charter guests on a 'bucket list' race experience, get the chance to sail against professional crews, including veterans of the Volvo Ocean Race, and Olympic sailors, on this downwind ocean course.
Solid, ocean-going classic Swans such as the '51 Northern Child and the '46 Milanto, are typical of the traditional style of boat in the racing fleet, whilst at the more extreme end of the range are downwind flyers from Pogo Structures, including two 40's and 12.50 and an 8.50, sailed by double handers Antoine Gloanec and Chloe Gautier from France.
Gianfelice Rocca's Rainbow represent's the classic part of the fleet; the C&C 61 was launched in 1972 and is still going well.
Pushing for the course record will be the Volvo 70, Monster Project, although with good conditions and tactics, the Pogo 40's are certainly capable to beating 11 days five hours as the all Austrian crew of Vaquita showed, coming in just a few hours off the record.
Another slippery new-comer is Max Klink's Caro, a Knierim 65 launched this year and described as a performance racer-cruiser, designed to minimizing weight without sacrificing comfort and still be raced by a crew of just six.
Around 35 boats are expected to start in the racing division on 24 November for the 2,670nm course to Saint Lucia. With a 24 year pedigree, the ARC racer's are very much a part of the ARC and registration is already open for the 2014 event.