Representing 21 nations and 25 nationalities, 220 yachts with1100 crew members, including 34 children, took part in the 2008 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers from Europe to St. Lucia. Start date was November 23 for the 2,680 nautical mile passage that originated in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
This year’s Largest yacht was US-registered Oyster 82, Sundowner at 24.99m (82ft) and the smallest yacht was Madonna, a Norwegian registered Bénéteau First 31 (9.95m). The oldest Skipper was Lurelle Verplank on Sundowner (USA) at 77 and the youngest Skipper was Fredrik Pedersen – Seafarer (NOR), age 24.
After a slow crossing of just under 14 days in light and variable conditions, the first yacht to finish in ARC 2008 arrived at Rodney Bay on Sunday December 7. Karsten Moller’s Swan 82, DreamCatcherKM, skippered by Jarrod Cripps, took line honours, crossing the finish line at 08:44 local time.
“Fair but at times frustrating” was how ARC organizers characterized this year’s event at the conclusion of the rally. “Winds and waves were fair this year, though with some frustrating holes at times, especially for heavy displacement cruising boats. However, the plus side is that less wind has meant fewer breakages than is typical during 2,700 nautical miles of open ocean sailing.”
As always, rum punch and a basket of fruit were presented to each ARC yacht as it arrived, day or night, by the people of St. Lucia.
With an elapsed time 13 days, 23 hours, and 44 minutes, DreamcatcherKM was over 60 hours behind the current ARC course record stand of 11 days, 5 hours and 32 minutes, set in 2006 by the Italian maxi, Capricorno, reflecting the lighter airs experienced by this year’s fleet.
Finishing close behind was the second arrival, Bruce Dingwall’s Southwind 80 – Matelot, a regular ARC participant. Skipper Angus Fuller brought her in eight hours behind the larger Swan, having kept pace almost all the way across from Gran Canaria.
Fundamentally a fun rally for cruising yachts, the ARC does have a more serious Racing Division, run under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC). Yachts in the Racing Division are not permitted to use their engines for propulsion (unlike the cruisers), although use of autopilots is allowed.
IGY Rodney Bay Marina Manager Cuthbert Didier welcomed yachts that had arrived by mid-December with his annual party lasting until the early hours of the following morning. The final part of the ARC ‘experience’ was the official prizegiving that took place on Saturday December 20. Crews, families, friends and invited guests gathered at the Gaiety Theatre for an evening of entertainment and fond memories hosted by the St. Lucia Tourist Board.
In addition to prizes in each Division and Class, there were awards for special achievements and contributions made by many crews such as the volunteer radio net controllers; the ARC finish line boats; and the four yachts – Magic Pelagic, Windancer, Ohana and Vaiva – which gave assistance to other yachts during the crossing.
Norwegian Edvard Brook-Bratbak, along with his young family, including 8 month old Marin, were called up for four awards, including the Jimmy Cornell trophy for overall winner of division one, as well as youngest participant, and winner of class H, with their Beneteau First 31.7, Madonna.
All the ARC children were welcomed on stage to some of the loudest cheers of the evening, and presented with a gift and certificate to mark their achievement.
The evening culminated with the presentation of ‘The Spirit of the ARC’ award to recognize the individual or crew who most represent the ethos of the ARC, and this year’s winner were the crew of Free to Be, a popular choice receiving warm applause from their fellow ARC crews.
Some crews flew home immediately, but most skippers and their yachts will spend the winter cruising the Caribbean.
The entry list is open for 2009 and already over 40 yachts have registered. For results, photos and stories about this year’s rally, see
Information submitted by the World Cruising Club
ARC Signs Five-Year Contract with IRY Rodney Bay
Andrew Bishop, managing director of World Cruising Club (WCC) announced in December the signing of a five year contract to keep the Caribbean stage of the ARC at the new IGY Rodney Bay Marina. Major sponsors in St. Lucia include the Ministry of Tourism, Digicel, Heineken, and Columbian Emeralds.