ARC Europe & USA Fleets Set Sail From Tortola

May 12, 2015

Yachts sailing under the flags of 20 different nations and crews from many more, set sail from Nanny Cay, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands on Saturday 9 May for their offshore adventures as part of two World Cruising Club Spring rallies; ARC Europe and ARC USA, both of which include a stop in Bermuda.

Venturing west to east across the Atlantic, over forty boats will sail with ARC Europe this year; 29 leaving from Nanny Cay, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, and 6 in the delayed start from Portsmouth, Virginia, USA. Both groups will converge in Bermuda and be joined by a further 6 boats to continue their ocean adventure to Europe and enjoy a cruise through the mid-Atlantic Azores archipelago en route.

“Even though the rally has grown, ARC Europe still maintains its intricate charm,” says ARC Europe Event Manager, Lyall Burgess. “We are excited about Nanny Cay’s plans for expanding the marina and thank them for their continued support.”

Many yachts are sailing with ARC Europe and ARC USA as their final homeward bound passages, returning after a winter of Caribbean cruising. The rally is somewhat a reunion for 12 boats that have sailed with the ARC and ARC+ in previous years, and new faces have been warmly welcomed with a social program in Nanny Cay.

Miles Sutherland-Pilch, General Manager of host marina whilst the fleet have been in Tortola, Nanny Cay, BVI. “I’m thrilled to see the numbers up. It’s been a growing event for us. Unfortunately it marks the end of our season at Nanny Cay, which is sad, but we love working with World Cruising Club and think it is a great organisation.

“Just seeing the activity and camaraderie around the docks at Nanny Cay is brilliant and we wish all the participants a safe journey on to Bermuda and hopefully they will tell their friends in Europe about us and come back and visit us one day.”

Multihulls set sail from Nanny Cay, photo by Alastair Abrehart

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Like all World Cruising Club rallies, a key part of the pre-departure programme for both ARC Europe and ARC USA is preparation and ensuring the right equipment is on board each yacht for a safe and enjoyable voyage.

Rally veterans, Harald & Christel Ertl are sailing their Hallberg Rassy 40, Sophie [GER] double-handed back to Germany with ARC Europe. Although this is their fourth rally [ARC 2008, Caribbean 1500 in 2010 and World ARC 2012], they emphasise the benefit of the safety equipment checks before the start of every rally: “In a WCC rally, the safety check team come to your boat and offer advice on why you need certain equipment, and they explain the reason for it. Even though we’ve taken part in many WCC rallies before, we sometimes forget things, so it a good thing to do.”

Six boats are sailing with ARC USA rally from Nanny Cay to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, via the Old Bahama Channel, and have been sharing the fun of the pre-departure programme in Tortola with crews from ARC Europe.

The route will see them sailing close to the north shores of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and Cuba, sheltered from the Atlantic swells by the Turks & Caicos and Bahamas, and should take approximately 7 days for them to arrive in Bahia Mar Marina in the Sunshine State.

It was a breezy start for the fleets in Nanny Cay, with 16-19 knots of wind under overcast skies. As the start horn sounded at 12 noon, first to cross the line were Bavaria 40 Rhea [SVN], with a sneaky move around the buoy marker, followed closely by Dufour 45 Doppelbock[GER] in second and Hallberg Rassy 53 Mahe’ 3 [ITA] in third.

Following the monohull start, the multihulls were set off at 1210 local time. Mantra 2 [SWE] an Outremer 42 crossed the start ling first, followed by GEM [USA] andIntrepid Elk [GBR].

The ARC Europe yachts setting off from Portsmouth, Virginia were due to leave the same day as those starting from Tortola [Saturday 9 May], but the decision was made to delay the departure of the ARC Europe Portsmouth fleet until at least Tuesday 12th May due to sub-tropical storm “Ana”.

Rally weather forecasters WRI are monitoring the deepening low off the coast of the US state of Georgia, and now the expected track north towards Cape Hatteras means it was prudent to delay departing from the Chesapeake Bay towards Bermuda. It is expected that the fleet will leave on Wednesday 13th May with a cold front bringing NW wind and perfect conditions for the sail to Bermuda.

Song of the Sea heading to the ARC Europe startline in BVI, photo by Alastair Abrehart

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Whilst skippers and crews of the six boat fleet gathered at the Ocean Marine Yacht Center in Portsmouth VA, were disappointed at the delay, the decision had been expected and was met by approval from all those involved.

Well to the south, the yachts setting out from Nanny Cay, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands towards Bermuda and towards Florida were not affected by this system and the fleet is expected to enjoy good sailing conditions.

ARC Europe fleets are expected to arrive in St. Georges, Bermuda in 5-7 days time and will be sure to enjoy a few customary dark n’ stormy drinks on arrival. On 20th May they re-start for Leg 2 sailing approximately 1800nm to the famous mid-Atlantic rendezvous point of Horta in the Azores.

Rather than sprinting across the Atlantic, the rally visits four of the islands over a 12 day period, with the option of visiting a fifth. After almost two weeks cruising the Azores archipelago, boats either sail on with the fleet to Marina de Lagos in Portugal, or make their own way north towards the UK and Ireland. ARC Europe will come to a close with a final prize giving ceremony in Lagos on 21 June 2015.

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  1. Bon Voyage’ We’re looking forward in seeing everyone upon their completion of this 1st. leg of their trans-Atlantic passage.