Perfect conditions greeted the start of World Cruising Club's transatlantic sailing rally ARC Europe yesterday, as the fleet crossed the start line just off Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, at midday local time.
Under a warm Caribbean sun and with steady 10-15 knot ENE breeze, the downwind start made for a colourful sight, with cruising chutes flying as crews enjoyed the perfect conditions as they set off on the first day of their Atlantic sailing adventure. The first stage of the rally often has some of the best weather conditions encountered on the 'Atlantic circuit' and forecasts for the passage to Bermuda predict some good sailing.
The ARC Europe route takes the yachts a total of some 3625 miles eastwards across the Atlantic Ocean from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, to their final destination of Lagos in southern Portugal, stopping in Bermuda and the Azores along the way.
As with all World Cruising Club events, a comprehensive social programme has also been planned in each stopover. This week, in the build up to the start, the participants have enjoyed the evening functions, and have already got to know each other well at the various barbecues and dinners arranged, in a welcome break from preparing their boats for the crossing.
Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola was the starting port for ARC Europe for the second year, although the rally has been taking place for over twenty years. World Cruising Club Director Andrew Bishop, "All our crews have enjoyed a great stay here in Nanny Cay, and we're pleased to confirm our commitment to this new home for the event and look forward to coming back again next year. General Manager Miles Sutherland Pilch and his team have worked hard to look after the visitors, and Nanny Cay has proved to be a perfect facility from which to prepare for an Atlantic passage."
Also starting out for Bermuda yesterday were a contingent from St.Augustine, Florida, where the yacht crews have been hosted by the St.Augustine Yacht Club. The St.Augustine starters "Alma de Sal" and "Fizz of Cowes" will have a similar distance to cover to reach Bermuda where they will meet up with the rest of the fleet before continuing their passage towards the Azores.