The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers – ARC – starts each November in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It has now become the most popular way to cross the Atlantic.
It all began in 1986 when world sailor Jimmy Cornell set out to get the annual trek of yachts across the Atlantic collected into one group sailing together in company. The ARC is now the holder of the Guinness Book Of Records title of the world’s largest transocean event of sailing yachts ever to sail the Atlantic in company. The record was set in 1999 when 238 yachts arrived in St. Lucia from the Canaries.
In the inaugural crossing, a fleet of 200 boats crossed together for a landfall in Barbados, the original Caribbean destination. This initial number was followed in 1987 by a much smaller fleet but the event’s popularity boomed and it soon became clear that Barbados could not cope with the arrival and management of such large numbers of yachts and crew.
So it was switched to St Lucia, which had recently seen the development of new marina facilities in Rodney Bay, was downwind of Barbados and had already received scores of yachts from the ARC fleets, who continued after their crossing to sail among the islands of the Caribbean.
The 2700 nautical mile passage on the NE tradewind route takes on average between 14 and 21 days.
Conceived as a friendly race for cruising yachts to make the Atlantic crossing both safer and more enjoyable, participating yachts must carry a range of safety equipment including a liferaft, EPIRB and VHF radio. Daily radio nets contribute further to the safety of participants. The presence of experienced sailors is another incentive for those with little offshore experience.
The ARC has a special flavour, which successfully combines racers with cruisers, old with young, and provides entertainment for all. A wide ranging programme of entertainment takes place both before the start and after the finish. The ARC enjoys the support of the Tourist Authority of Gran Canaria, the Port Authority of Las Palmas, Rol Nautic and the St.Lucia Board of Tourism.
- The next ARC departs from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and crosses to Rodney Bay, St.Lucia on 2011 20 November
- The ARC is open to cruising monohulls with a minimum length of 8.23-25.91m (27 to 85ft) and cruising catamarans from 8.23 – 18.29m (27 to 60 ft) LOA. Yachts outside these sizes may be permitted to join in the Open Division.
- The competitive side of the event will be catered for by the Racing Division, rated under the IRC Handicap System, run under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club.
- The World Cruising handicap is used to calculate results in the cruising classes, in which motoring is permitted.
- A full programme of social activities, safety seminars and demonstrations will be organised by World Cruising Club in Las Palmas prior to the start, and after the finish in St.Lucia.
- Confirmed entrants receive regular newsletters about the ARC, containing useful information about planning an Atlantic crossing, updates on entries and safety tips.
The ARC is open to cruising monohulls with a minimum length of 27ft to 85ft and cruising catamarans from 27ft to 60 ft. The competitive side of the event is controlled by the Racing Division, under the auspices of the Royal Ocean Racing Club.