The ARC stands for Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. The brainchild of the World Cruising Club, it sees 200+ boats and more than 1,200 sailors cruise 2,700 nautical miles across the Atlantic from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia each November. Except this year, demand was so high, there was also an ARC+ which set off two weeks before the ARC proper, taking in a detour to Cape Verde.
The ARC and its covenants
We toured ARC 2013, the 28th rally, the week before the off. Our guide was the lovely Clodagh Cahill, one-third of the World Cruising Club’s hard-working on-site press team. She explained that before you board a boat, it’s considered proper etiquette to remove your footwear. Competitors are worried about a cockroach infestation and, as Clodagh confirms to me, a female cockroach will lay its eggs as it dies. Meaning that death by stamping can lead to birth.
With 79 yachts entered, there are more yachts from Britain than anywhere else. Which explains why we see, for the first time, a menu board at the Muelle Deportivo advertising an English breakfast. Scandinavia is also well-represented with this year’s youngest skipper, 19-year-old Didrik Aames, hailing from Norway. Although the most junior on board a yacht’s a 22-month-old German infant. It’s one big, happy family.
Wet and wild
November to February is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria’s rainy season, which if you’ve ever come to Carnaval, you already will be well aware of. So whilst the sun’s shining as Gran Canaria Local set off from home to catch the 12:30pm start of the Multihull and Open Division, it begins to rain as the Racing Division make their 12:45pm departure. What commences as a shower becomes a downpour, appropriately enough, of biblical proportions.