First ARC+ arrival Malisi sails around Pigeon Island and into Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- On 20 November, 43 rally yachts sailed away from Mindelo in the Cape Verde Islands bound for Rodney Bay on the beautiful Caribbean island of Saint Lucia. Seven ARC+ boats are now safely tied up inside Rodney Bay Marina having enjoyed an easy sail across the Atlantic. The rest of the ARC+ boats are due to arrive over the next few days, as the established trade winds continue to speed them towards the Caribbean.
First across the finish line on Saturday, was Outremer 64' Catamaran Malisi (AUT) which sailed the 2,100nm passage in just under ten days. All crew were very happy to discover they were the first arrival, after encountering some technical difficulties with their communications at sea they were unaware of their position in relation to the rest of the rally boats.
"We really didn't know where we were most of the time, but it meant we kept pressure on from start to finish," said Malisi's skipper, Rainer Holtorff on arrival.
As Malisi sailed round Pigeon Island and into Rodney Bay, the sun was just rising over the island making a welcoming sight. Crew were congratulated by ARC+ Rally Control out on the finish line and assisted to their berth inside the marina. Once alongside, representatives from the Saint Lucia Tourist Board presented all participants with a glass of the rum punch and a hamper of local produce providing a very warm welcome to this beautiful Caribbean island. Local dignitaries, press and media teams were also on the dock to take photographs and interview the crew after their Atlantic crossing.
The Malisi crew explained they had enjoyed a fast yet very comfortable passage reporting no real concerns.
"We definitely pushed her, sometimes perhaps a little too much, but she (Malisi) handled it very well," admitted Rainer on the dockside.
Crew member Mattias Rueleke thoroughly enjoyed the passage on board, praising the combination of comfort and speed of the Outremer 64' for the eight man crew, "She's a very comfortable boat for a fast catamaran. We were able to enjoy a full BBQ on deck for eight hungry crew, whilst we powered along at 10 knots with a well-trimmed spinnaker."
Thirty-six hours after Malisi's arrival came the second ARC+ arrival; X-Yachts' X-482 LUV (GER) owned by Heiko Tornow. Crews were delighted to arrive as they leapt into the sea once across the finish line to cool off after 11 days crossing an ocean.
Two other X-Yachts have joined LUV in the top 5 first arrivals, the X-482 AronnaX (BEL) and the slightly smaller X-442 Mathilde (DEN). All crews have reported some great sailing, and even too comfortable at times, "Having never sailed a passage of this length and scale, it was actually lot easier than I had expected" said Daniela De Luca D'Elia from AronnaX.
Life at sea for the ARC fleet
The majority of the ARC fleet that departed Las Palmas on 24th November are still some way off Saint Lucia after ten days at sea. Several of the cruising fleet have called in to Marina Mindelo themselves to refuel after a period of light winds in the first week out of Las Palmas, whilst others have experienced the effects of an intense low pressure system that formed along the rhumb line causing 24 hours of head winds and rain squalls. The unusual weather pattern has divided the fleet into three distinct groups; the larger boats of the racing fleet tracked far North of the rhumb line hoping to catch strong winds behind the low as they headed South, a strategy that is paying off so far for Knierim 65 Caro who could be on course to break the ARC course record if conditions hold.
Meanwhile the cruising fleet has honoured the old adage of "sailing south until the butter melts" and attempting to avoid a narrow low pressure system as it tracks through, hoping for the traditional trade winds to re-establish themselves behind. Logs sent in from the boats and posted on the ARC rally website are reporting fishing triumphs, dolphin displays and the SSB-Radio Net providing a great social hub between the boats whilst at sea.
Five boats that departed Las Palmas with the ARC have taken the decision to retire from the rally. Pogo 40 Green has returned to the Canary Islands with electrical problems, whilst Liberte experienced a broken boom and will remain in Mindelo, Cape Verdes. Steering problems on Zenarra has meant they too have decided to divert to Mindelo for assistance.
All of those involved with the ARC were deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of Nicholas Achy, skipper of Alayat3, who passed away due to a suspected heart attack on 28 November, shortly before reaching the Cape Verdes. The boat is now in Mindelo, and has been joined by fellow French crew and friends from yacht, Marijose.