Everybody can sail in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC). That’s what makes this 29-year-old 2700-mile transatlantic maritime caravan from Las Palmas to St. Lucia a ‘bucket list’ for sailors who want to cross new boundaries and explore new worlds while at the same time form life-long friendships with like-minded people on a shared adventure. This year’s 250-plus strong ARC fleet represents a vibrant mix of yacht makes and models, flying the flags of 36 different countries with crews a delightful mix of singles, couples and families.
“The fleet is split between two routes: direct to Saint Lucia on the classic ARC leaving November 23rd, or via the Cape Verde Islands with the ARC+ which leaves ahead of the main fleet on November 9th,” explains Jeremy Wyatt, communications director of the UK-based World Cruising Club (WCC), which operates the ARC and several other cruising rallies. “Having two route options allows room for more boats and it is the multihulls that have spread into this space. We have a whopping 38 catamarans in total sailing this year, representing 15% of the ARC fleet. Leading the twin hull charge are French builders Lagoon, with 16 boats in the ARC – their popular 450 model being the design most frequently seen in the group. Fountaine Pajot and Outremer are also well represented in the fleet.”
Among the monohulls, there is the usual wide spread of types, sizes and configurations representing the breadth of options available to modern cruising sailors. Notable this year are Danish builder X-Yachts, whose cruising XC range is proving popular in both 42 and 45-foot versions of their aft-cockpit racer-cruisers. Per Arne Nilsen, of Norway, will be sailing his X55, Enigma VII, for the first time in the ARC.
“I stopped sailing competitively after my third Olympic laser campaign in 1992,” explains Nilsen. “After that, I have been cruising and sailing regattas in big boats. I’ve never sailed the Atlantic before and I will sail with a crew of experienced X-yacht sailors.”
Stalwart of the cruising fraternity, British builder Oyster Marine is well represented in this year’s ARC with 17 hulls in the fleet, while French yards Jeanneau (18 hulls) and Beneteau (21 hulls) are topping the table. The Beneteau Oceanis 473 being the most popular design amongst the monohulls with five of the type sailing the rally. German brand Bavaria yachts are also popular models for ARC entrants who hail from both sides of the Atlantic.
“We’ve island hopped in the Caribbean for a few winters after buying our Bavaria 39, Asylum, in the British Virgin Islands, and then sailed her to Florida and cruised up to the Chesapeake,” explains Thane Paulsen, from South Dakota, USA who, with wife Brenda, will sail the ARC. “In the spring of 2013 we motored Asylum onto a Dockwise Yacht Transport ship to Spain. We sailed the Mediterranean the last two summers and our dream now is to do the ‘Milk Run’ as a couple. We researched our options of joining a rally for bringing Asylum home and we chose the ARC.”
Vincent and Christine De Camaret, from France, are looking forward to sailing the ARC with their two children, 14-year-old Tristan and 11-year-old Gabrielle, aboard their Bavaria 44, 44.com.
“My husband and I both like to sail,” explains Christine. “In 2012, we cruised the Mediterranean in Italy, Greece and Turkey. Discovering the Mediterranean by cruising and sailing was such a big success for us that we wanted to go on and discover more in the west side. We always wanted to cross the Atlantic, but not sail alone. We wanted advice, especially about the weather, and help if we had problems. Most of all we wanted our children to meet other cruising children. Our children will have school by correspondence and the four of us together in the boat gives us time to share in conversation, playing cards, studying and cooking.”
The ‘grand old lady’ of this year’s fleet is Christophe von Reibntiz’s 1936 Henry Gruber designed yawl, Peter von Seestermühe, which has been gracing the ARC regularly since 1990. Also worthy of the epithet ‘classic’ is the 1973 Swan 44, Safa, sailed by Hannu Korpela from Finland. Top and tail this year come from Thalassa, a 1976 Marieholm 32E sailed by Swedish skipper Mattias Järleby at just 31ft long, right up to the big daddy, Leopard, Mike Slade’s super-maxi Farr 100 design. No doubt Leopard’s all Finnish crew will be hoping to capture the course record if conditions are right.
“At the end of a bluewater cruise such as the World ARC or the Atlantic circuit from Europe to the Caribbean and back, cruisers often sell their boats as these are too big for most European marinas,” explains the WCC’s Wyatt. “This means that we do see a lot of ARC boats again, but with new owners setting out on their offshore adventure.”
For more information, visit: www.worldcruising.com
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.