Every November since 1986 the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers has set sail from Las Palmas, bound 2,700 nautical miles westward across the Atlantic to the Caribbean. The ARC will start in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on Sunday 24th November. It is seen as a ‘must do’ for many sailors, and attracts over 200 boats and 1200 people every year to sail 2800 NM across the Atlantic from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia.
The ARC is for everyone; families with children, tough racers, cruising couples, big budgets, and modest boats. Crossing the Atlantic together, but having their own adventures. More than just a boat race, the ARC is about friendships made ashore in the two weeks of pre-departure activities continued over the radio net at sea. It’s about arriving in Saint Lucia to be met on the dock with a rum punch and a chilled beer, knowing you have achieved something fantastic - crossing an ocean on a small sailboat.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has been the 'home port' of the ARC since the very first edition of the rally in 1986. It is a natural departure point for boats crossing the Atlantic from Europe to the Caribbean, and all summer and autumn boats will converge on the port of Las Palmas from northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
Gran Canaria is located at the edge of the trade wind belt, so boats leaving the Canary Islands will sail south (until the butter melts, as the saying goes) until they pick up the north east trade winds which then blow them west across the Atlantic. The ARC starts in late November when the trade winds become established, and the boats will arrive at the end of the Caribbean hurricane season.
The start of the ARC is something very special - it's not often you can watch or be part of more than 200 boats setting off across an ocean! Start day begins with the local brass band marching around the marina, serenading the boats as they make final preparations and say goodbye.
The boats begin departing the marina from 10:00, and the first official start is at 12:30, with the main fleet of Cruising Division boats crossing the line at 13:00. The start happens offshore and south of the marina, and spectators line the city shore to watch.
If the wind is good, the boats will sail quickly south, and will soon be out of sight as they start their Atlantic adventure.
The minimum size boat for ARC entry is 8.23m in length and must have at least two people on board at all times. These boats will have a 18-21 day journey depending upon conditions and style of sailing. Some will be trying to beat the ARC record set in 2006 by maxi yacht Capricorno (ITA) skippered by Rinaldo del Bono in 11 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 30 seconds. Since it is a cruising rally participants can use their engines as long as they declare the hours it was used so the results can be calculated. Boats in the RORC Racing Division are NOT allowed to use their engines for propulsion.
How can families at home stay in touch with the boats?
All boats will be fitted with a YB satellite tracker, which will display the boats positions on the online Fleet Viewer. This means friends, family and supporters from around the globe can follow the fleets progress from the comfort of their own homes.
For more information on ARC please visit the World Cruising Club website.