Twenty one sailboats competed in the Atlantic Cup from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to Bermuda this year in early May, closely monitored on line by thousands who followed the fleet’s progress as it was reported by satellite transponders.
The Atlantic Cup is an annual event sponsored by the Cruising Rally Association to provide friendly competition, shared weather information, crew lists, and twice daily radio chats to boats returning the US and Canada from their winter cruising grounds.
Joy for All, a Farr 50, sailed by Gil Smith from Glastonbury CT, took the First Overall and Line Honors for the event. Crazy Horse, a Sundeer 60, was first to finish, followed by Clover III, a Swan 56.
Weather conditions followed predictions of about 10-15 knots for most of the five-day open ocean adventure. The competitors sailed close hauled for most of the passage, experiencing some lumpy seas, and a few lightening storms, and strong squalls. All ralliers received a warm welcome at the St. Georges Dinghy and Sports Club in Bermuda and sat out late season gales before leaving for their East Coast destinations.
The fleet was divided into two divisions. Eight boats entered the Cruising Class to enjoy a cruise in company; 13 entered the Rally Class competition. Both classes receive the same safety, weather and communication benefits. The eight boats in the cruising class received awards that recognized their achievement of safely completing the open ocean passage.
Finishing less than three hours after Joy for All in Rally Class 1, was Charles Cunningham on Agua Dulce, a Hylas 54. Joy for All and Aqua Dulce have jockeyed for the lead in a friendly rivalry in CRA rallies over the last five years.
Legato, a Tayana 48 sailed by Larry Terhaar of Danbury CT, placed first in Rally Class 2, followed by Bill and Carol Loring on Rigel, a Saga 409.
Romany Life, a Hylas 54, captained by Dietmar Weselin from Fredericksburg VA, took home the fishing trophy.
Octogenarians Philip and Frances Clappison from Waterloo, Ontario on Bella Mae II, a Cabo Rico 42, reported that their prop and rudder were fouled by a fishing net on Day Five of the passage. Unable to motor, they sailed in light air to finish the passage unassisted in eight days.
At the conclusion of the rally from Tortola to Bermuda, the sailors waited for a weather window to begin for the next leg of their passage to multiple locations on the East Coast. A series of late-season gales leaving the US pinned down the fleet, delaying their departure for over a week. Informally, the skippers continued the radio schedules and cruised in company with positions shown on the Caribbean 1500 web site until they reached their final destinations.
With wireless transponders on each yacht, positions were broadcast via the satellite network six times each day, every four hours. Each boat’s track was displayed on the Caribbean 1500 website (www.carib1500.com) using software customized to incorporate features from Google Earth. The transponder program is sponsored by Davenport & Company, LLC.
The Cruising Rally Association, founded in 1990 by veteran solo sailor and sailing event organizer Steve Black, manages a year-round calendar of offshore cruising rallies and Offshore Sailing Symposia. Over 750 cruisers and future cruisers attend the CRA events each year. Black has sailed in all parts of the Atlantic, including three solo transatlantic races and more than 40 rallies. He served as executive director of the US Sailing Association before founding the Cruising Rally Association, which he has headed for the last 18 years.
Report submitted by the Cruising Rally Association, www.carib1500.com