Thirty yachts hailing from twelve different nations have left the Caribbean with the ARC Europe and Atlantic Cup sailing rallies for a cruise home in company with expert support and organisation from World Cruising Club.
2013 ARC Europe and Atlantic Cup
The 2013 editions of each event mark the first occasion in which both fleets took the same start line as they departed Nanny Cay, Tortola on Saturday 4th May. Both fleets are sailing together in a fun competition for cruisers en route to Bermuda, and will then continue back to their home ports on either side of the Atlantic.
Prior to the start, a week of seminars and festivities were held in Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, including safety checks, the Farewell Supper and Skipper's Briefing, to ensure that all participants were ready and prepared for the adventure. The programme provided plenty of opportunities for the crews to meet one another, creating the unique family atmosphere that is the hallmark of World Cruising Club rallies.
For this year's start, the wind was blowing light out of the southwest, 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. 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 two to the Azores, including Alice in Red, the lone starter from Ocean Marine Yacht Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, World Cruising Club's new rally base in the USA.
Now underway, many crews have been sending logs of boat life through to the World Cruising Club website, where their progress can be followed by friends and family. In the first few days at sea, several boats have experienced light winds but the slower boat speeds are producing successful fishing results - much to the delight of the crews of Lone Star and Johanem. Now clear of the BVIs, the fleet has turned North and are aiming straight for Bermuda. After a short break in St George's, Bermuda, the ARC Europe yachts will continue on to the Azores then Marina de Lagos in Portugal or alternative European ports. The Atlantic Cup fleet will head back to their home ports along the United States Eastern Seaboard.
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 and 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.