World Cruising Club is justifiably proud of the international interest being shown in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), which is over-subscribed each year, and limited to 225 yachts. The entire ARC fleet will depart again from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on November 23rd on a 2,700 nm passage to Rodney Bay in St. Lucia.
As part of the redevelopment of Rodney Bay Marina, the ARC finish location in St.Lucia, the entrance channel has recently been dredged to 14 feet (4.25m) improving access for the larger yachts which previously had to anchor off. Now all participating yachts will be able to dock at Rodney Bay to celebrate their Atlantic race.
Whilst fundamentally a fun rally for cruising yachts, with many crews using the ARC as a desirable way of making their first ocean transit, the rally does have a more serious Racing Division, run under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC). Yachts in the Racing Divisions are not permitted to use their engines for propulsion (unlike the cruisers), although use of autopilots is allowed.
The Racing Divisions have this year attracted entries from as far afield as Australia and the USA whilst also appealing to skippers from Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Monaco, Spain, France, Italy and the UK. Yachts compete using the IRC rating and RORC medallions are awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed yachts in each IRC Division. The racers are split into two divisions by size - Division II Racing, for yachts between 8.23m to 18.29m (27ft to 60ft) and Division VII Invitation Racing, for yachts greater than 18.29m. There are further sub divisions into classes by TCF band depending in the numbers competing in each division. The competition for 2008 has to date attracted yachts ranging from an Elan 37 (11.16m) up to a Swan 76 at 23.10m length overall.
Both Racing Divisions are run under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) and completion of the ARC in one of these two divisions meets the offshore racing qualification necessary for RORC membership.
It is interesting to note that in the 22 years that the ARC has been run, the time for the fastest yacht to complete the passage, entirely under sail, has fallen steadily, with the current course record being set in ARC 2006. this can be said to be due to advanced yacht design, keener training and advanced techniques of young sailors, and a worldwide increase in sailing as a leisure activity.
Here are some of the times as they stand over the years in the ARC:
11 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 30 seconds.
Capricorno - Maxi - Rinaldo Del Bono, ITA
11 days, 13 hours, 12 minutes and 20 seconds - Spirit, Volvo 60, Hamish Oliphant, GBR
11days 23hrs, 41 minutes and 43 secs - Spirit of Diana, Farr 65, Ross Daniels, GBR
12 days 18 hours 7 minutes and 20 seconds - Multicap Caraibes, Open 50, Luc Coquelin FRA
13 days 02 hours 58 minutes - Yes!, Sydney 60, Adam Gosling, GBR
Entries into this year's ARC are now closed and a waiting list is now operating in the event of any cancellations.
For more information about the ARC, go to the 2008 ARC?nid=48940