WITH less them one week to go before the ARC 2015 fleet leave Las Palmas for Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia, crews from the 179 yachts already berthed in the marina took part in the official ARC 2015 Opening Ceremony. The final 23 yachts are expected to arrive in Las Palmas over the next few days, bringing the fleet total to 202 yachts, for the rally’s 30th edition.
At midday last Sunday flag bearers from 30 different nations representing the countries of the yachts in this year’s rally joined the procession as it made its way around the marina. The grand parade had a real festival atmosphere and many crews took part in the patriotic display by bringing a boat’s mascot or dressing up for the occasion. Following the principal flags of Spain, Gran Canaria and Saint Lucia, the international conga line was led by the Banda Gran Canaria, with the Banda H Mencey beating a salsa rhythm at the back.
A warm welcome to the ARC sailors was made by Juan Francisco Martin director comercial de la AutoridadPortuaria de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and Jose Eduardo Ramirez representing the concejal de Ciudad de mar del Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Consejera de TurismodelCabildo de Gran Canaria, Señorita Inés Jiménez then wished them all a safe to Saint Lucia.
In memory of the lives lost, and in support of the people of Paris affected by the terrible events on Friday night, flags on all public buildings in Spain are being flown at half-mast today. In solidarity, flags were raised then lowered to half-mast and a minute’s silence was observed by all present. World Cruising Club’s Managing Director Andrew Bishop then declared the 30th ARC officially ‘Open’ and fireworks echoed around Las Palmas Marina concluding the Opening Ceremony for ARC 2015.
The fiesta atmosphere resumed with ARC participants and local people taking part in Don Pedro’s famous International Dinghy Race. The race across the marina encourages crews, dressed in a variety of fancy dress costumes, to use any tactics they like to outwit their opponents. Water bombs and flour missiles were commonplace!
In the first week of ARC activities in Las Palmas, crews have enjoyed daily social events, seminars on cruising topics and the opportunity to plant another 200 trees in the ARC Forest in the mountains above the city. The second week of the pre-start programme is the busiest, as more crew fly in and the yachts start their provisioning and finish off last minute preparations for the Atlantic crossing.
Start day for the ARC fleet is Sunday 22 November, and thousands of spectators will line the city shore to watch the boats start. The first start gun will sound at 1230 for the Multihulls, followed by the Racing boats at 1245 and then the cruising boats, making up the majority of the ARC fleet, at 1300.
ARC sailors have a choice of routes for their transatlantic crossing to Saint Lucia. One week ago, the ARC+ fleet departed Las Palmas for their first leg sailing to Mindelo Marina in Cape Verde. The first boat to arrive after leading the fleet from day one was Bepa (GBR), a Shipman 63 which covered the 850nm passage in just over four days. Light winds stalled some of the later arrivals but, with the exception of Arriba which departed late from Las Palmas, the ARC+ fleet will be complete in Mindelo by the end of the day and crews who have arrived over the course of the weekend are enjoying exploring Sao Vicente. The 61 boats in the ARC+ fleet will depart for Leg 2 of their transatlantic crossing tomorrow November bound for Saint Lucia.