Whether you like passage-making or transatlantic sails, the Cowes, UK-headquartered World Cruising Club offers a rally that will put you in the sunny islands this winter. Here’s what’s new with the WCC’s three major Atlantic fall rallies.
ARC Caribbean 1500
Over 70 yachts are expected to depart Portsmouth, Virginia, on November 8th, en route to Nanny Cay Marina in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, where the ARC Caribbean 1500 awards ceremony will take place November 20th.
“Since our move to Portsmouth, the ARC Caribbean 1500 has been really successful both at sea and ashore, so we’re not doing too many things to drastically change that,” explains event manager, Andy Schell. “We do have a few new sponsors including Forbes Horton Yachts. Forbes specializes in bluewater boats. One of our goals is to make it easier for ralliers getting out of bluewater sailing to sell their already-equipped boats to ralliers looking to get into bluewater sailing, and Forbes has been a big help in facilitating this. Horton will be on-hand at the start of the rally in Portsmouth, and not just as a sales pitch. He and his young family refit a classic Tartan 34 and took it down island to the Eastern Caribbean early in 2000. So, he’ll be on the lecture program discussing his favorite cruising spots from that trip and helping new folks plan their winter sailing.”
More than a dozen yachts, mostly from the U.S. East Coast, will cast off with the Caribbean 1500 fleet and arrive at Marsh Harbor, in the Abacos, for the November 14th ARC Bahamas awards ceremony.
“Last year we changed the destination from Green Turtle Cay to a really nice family-run marina called the Harbour View Marina. It’s the perfect landfall for the smaller of the two fleets. One of our yachts, the Ericsson 35, Jubilee, is actually leading the event this year. Tom and Darlene Herrington will manage the shoreside festivities and final prize giving once all the boats arrive into the Harbour View,” says Schell.
Retired U.S. Senator from Iowa, Tom Harkin, who is pursuing his lifelong dream of offshore sailing, will join the Caribbean 1500 as crew on Schell’s Swan 48, Isbjorn. Harkin plans to travel to Hope Town, just across from Marsh Harbor, where he and his wife, Ruth, own a home, after the 1500. The Harkins plan to catch up with some of the ARC Bahamas participants while sailing aboard their Seaward 26.
“We have been coming to the Abacos since 1969,” Harkin says. “First, the Abaconians are wonderful people, honest and hard-working; secondly, except for an occasional frontal passage, you can’t beat the weather; and third, for sailors you have the protected waters of the Abaco Sea, or you can be in blue water in just an hour or two. Island hopping in a boat – sail or power – is the best!”
Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC)
Some 1200 sailors on 200-plus boats will cast off on one of two transatlantic courses to the Caribbean. The 3rd annual ARC+ departs November 8 from Gran Canaria en route to Cape Verde, with departure on the second leg from Cape Verde on November 18th en route to St. Lucia. Meanwhile, the traditional and 30th annual ARC departs from Gran Canaria on November 22nd non-stop to St. Lucia, where the tropical prize-giving will happen on December 9th.
The three decade anniversary of the ARC will see a special celebratory program of activities at the start in Las Palmas and at the finish in St. Lucia. Most exciting is the host World Cruising Club’s welcoming of three skippers to the 2015 rally that also sailed the first in 1986. This includes Germany’s Manfred Kerstan, who double-handed to a second place finish aboard his Swan 61 and won the Prime Minister Trophy that first year, and who sets sail on his 20th ARC aboard his latest boat, an Oyster 82 named Albatross. Sweden’s Pekka Karlsson will be sailing on Corona Aq, the very same Laurin 32 on which he left Las Palmas in the first edition of the ARC. Accompanied by his wife Barbro, the Swedish-flagged yacht is the smallest boat to be sailing with ARC+ in 2015. The Karlssons are also veterans of the first ARC+, a two-leg route from Gran Canaria to Cape Verde and Cape Verde to St. Lucia, which started in 2013. The third inaugural rally veteran is ocean weather router Chris Tibbs from Great Britain. A regular on the ARC team in Las Palmas, where he lectures on the rally route and expected weather, Tibbs will be sailing this year on board his boat Taistealai, a Wauquiez Centurion 40s together with his wife Helen.
“The international flavors of the ARC have been a unique trait for the past three decades and in 2015 over 25 nationalities are represented,” says Sarah Collins, communications executive with the World Cruising Club. “The range of rally boats is as diverse as the crew sailing on board them. A total of 37 multihulls are set to join, representing an especially high percentage of the ARC+ fleet. The smallest yacht overall is the Hallberg Rassy 310, Inua, from Norway, while the largest is the luxury charter yacht Farfalla, a 104.27ft South Wind.”
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.