The 26th ARC finished in fine style on Saturday 17 December with a spectacular prize giving ceremony at the Gaiety Nightclub in Gros Islet, Saint Lucia. 2011 was a vintage ARC, with most boats experiencing fast crossing times - the ARC crossing record almost tumbled after standing unchallenged since 2006.
ARC FryFlyt -jubilant after the crossing
Spirit of the ARC:
While the fastest finishers are always newsworthy, most of the ARC fleet are family cruisers. The contributions made by a wide range of sailors are recognised during the prize giving, with special awards including the Spirit of the ARC Award. This was awarded to Stuart Letton and the crew of Time Bandit (GBR) for their enthusiasm for ARC activities and involvement in all aspects of the rally. Christof Petter and the crew of Vaquita (AUT) won the Eric Jean Trophy for their work in raising awareness for the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.
There were awards for the youngest skipper, 24 year old Lucy Reynolds on Northern Child (GBR) and the oldest skipper, 78 year old Juan Egido from Peru on Nandina. The youngest sailor was 5 year old Aksel Skogseth Berg on Perle (NOR).
The most beautiful yacht was voted to be bright orange Gunboat 66 Phaedo (USA) and the prize for oldest was won by 75 year old Cruinneag III (GBR). The Philip Hitchcock Award for safety was won by Hunny Pot (GBR) for impressing the safety equipment inspectors in Las Palmas.
There were awards for the blogs submitted to the ARC website while the boats were at sea, with 108 boats submitting blogs in 9 different languages; awards for fishing prowess; and prizes for the best wall paintings made in Las Palmas.
Classic crossing for the racing boats:
After a downwind start in perfect conditions in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the 217 yachts, including a record-breaking 31 multihulls, headed south and then west across the Atlantic towards Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia. Classic trade wind conditions provided exciting downwind sailing, with the Franco-Russian team on super-maxi Med Spirit finishing in 11 days and 14 hours, only 9 hours outside the ARC crossing record set by Capricorno (ITA) in 2006.
Following Med Spirit over the line was trimaran Rayon Vert (FRA), Gunboat 66 Phaedo (USA), ex-Whitbread maxi Rothmans (SWE) then Open 40 Vaquita (AUT) - these five boats finishing within 13 days and almost 3 days ahead of the next bunch of finishers.
Most of the fleet experienced a 'wind hole' as they closed Saint Lucia, leaving some boats becalmed and chasing the lightest of breezes or resorting to the motor. Line honours prizes for boats crossing the line first in their division without motoring were awarded to Med Spirit (FRA), Rayon Vert (FRA), Vaquita (AUT), Hassebas (NED) and Dantés (GER).
The overall Cruising Division prize for calculated results was awarded to Standfast 56 Splendid (NED) skippered by Kees-Jan Baartmans, and vintage Oyster Lightwave 48 Scarlet Oyster (GBR) skippered by Ross Applebey, won the RORC Racing Division.
Of the 217 boats that set off from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on 20 November, 215 crossed the Atlantic successfully (two retired to the Canaries) and 214 crossed the finish line in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia. Damages were limited to blown sails, a few broken booms and two broken forestays, but all of the damaged boats were able to finish. The organisers and participants were deeply saddened to learn on 8 December of the sudden death from suspected heart attack of Andrew Nash, who was sailing on Ocean Wanderer.
Spirit of the ARC Award: Time Bandit (GBR) Stuart Letton & crew
Eric Jean Trophy for services to humanity and environment: Vaquita (AUT) Christof Petter
Arch Jean Trophy for contribution to shoreside activities: Chiscos (GBR) John Simpson & crew
Yachting World Trophy for line honours Division I (Cruising): Dantés (GER) Swan 48
Jimmy Cornell Trophy for overall winner Division I (Cruising): Splendid (NED) Standfast 56
Line honours Division II (Racing) and winner Class A: Vaquita (AUT) Akilaria 40
Overall winner Division II (Racing) and winner Class B: Scarlet Oyster (GBR) Oyster 48
Digicel Trophy for line honours Division VII (Invitation): Hassebas (NED) Shipman 63
Rodney Bay Marina Trophy for winner Division VII (Invitation): Triumph (SWE) Baltic 64
Line Honours Division VIII (Invitation Racing): Med Spirit (FRA) super-maxi
Overall winner Division VIII (Invitation Racing): One Hull (GBR) Challenge 72
Overall winner Division IV (Multihulls): Blue Ocean (POL) Lagoon 560
Line Honours Division V (Open): Rayon Vert (FRA) Lerouge 50 trimaran
Division I (Cruising) Class winners:
Class A - Prime Minister's Trophy: Gunvør XL (CAN) X-55
Class B - Saint Lucia Tourist Board Trophy: Chosen One (GBR) Dufour 45e
Class C - Saint Lucia Hotel & Tourism Trophy: Meneldor (NED) Hallberg Rassy 54
Class D - Saint Lucia Ministry of Tourism Trophy: Capraia III (NOR) Sweden 45
Class E - Gran Canaria Trophy: Splendid (NED) Standfast 56
Class F - Windward & Leeward Trophy: Dantés (GER) Swan 48
Class G - Adlard Coles Trophy: Eagle's Gift (ESP) Swan 42
Class H - Saint Lucia Air & Seaports Authority Trophy: Halcyon of Hebe (GBR) Hylas 44