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Special Celebrations Conclude ARC+ 2020

ON 14 December in Rodney Bay Saint Lucia, a unique prize-giving ceremony brought to a close a six-week long adventure for 98 sailors who crossed the Atlantic with ARC+ 2020.

At the beginning of November, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria was a buzz of excitement and anticipation as the office opened and the rally that many thought may not be held officially began. Since then, the crews have undertaken the measures necessary to keep themselves and others safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, with protocols diligently followed, PCR testing carried out, and a very different programme organised to support participants in their preparations for the voyage.

The lure of the open ocean, 3000nm of tradewind sailing, a stopover in the Cape Verde islands, and the knowledge of being part of a framework to achieve a bucket-list dream created a determined band of crews who were eager to achieve their goal to cross the Atlantic in 2020 and reach the shores of Saint Lucia. The prize-giving ceremony taking place in Rodney Bay Marina provided a fitting celebration to mark their great achievement and concluded the two-stage rally with a special Caribbean flavour.

Many occasions in 2020 have been marked in a very different way to customary celebrations and the ARC+ prize-giving ceremony was no exception. Adhering to the protocols of Saint Lucia, the ceremony was held on C Dock of IGY Rodney Bay Marina with the 80ft catamaran ‘Go Tango’ providing a platform to host the proceedings. On board each of their own vessels, adorned with colourful code flags flying, crews gathered in their cockpits to enjoy a party pack of food and drinks provided by the Events Company of Saint Lucia. At dusk, the sound of steel pan music played by Errol Fontinelle, set the tone for Caribbean partying mood, and the large screen on board Go Tango broadcasted pictures from life at sea on board various ARC+ boats and of course the anticipated results.

The proceedings were opened and introduced by local Radio Presenter, Masana Morrison, who welcomed the fleet and introduced Andrew Pickersgill, the World Cruising Club host for the evening. Andrew Bishop, Managing Director of World Cruising Club was unable to attend this year but sent a message of congratulations and thanks to all the fleet and organisers of the rally. He said “I so appreciate your support for sticking with us and participating in ARC+ 2020 and I wish you all a fantastic evening”.

From groups of friends, parents sailing with children, full time liveaboards and amateur adventurers, the crews on this year’s rally represented all walks of life, and each have had their own motivations crossing an ocean this year. The prize-giving ceremony recognised those who sailed quickly and tactically; Hasta Luego 2 (GBR) claimed Line Honours for Leg 2 from Mindelo to Rodney Bay, and on corrected time Rivercafe (LUX) topped the Multihull Division, and Bohemen (NOR) 1st in the Cruising Division. The smallest boat in the fleet, Parker 335 Tohuwabohu (DEU) covered the well navigated shortest distance of 2092.5nm, whilst TY Pierre III (FRA) a BeneteauOceanis 51.1 sailed the most miles of 2326.0nm.

Special awards were also given to the six yachts sailed by a double-handed crew, and the SSB Net Controllers who have been at the heart of the ocean crossing community by running the daily radio net. Thirteen children, the youngest turned two years old last week, have also added to the great family atmosphere of ARC+, receiving a great cheer from their fellow participants as their photos were displayed on the large screen.

The fleet’s adventures have been followed by thousands of fans this year and the best boat log photo went to Cloudy Bay (NOR) for sharing a beautiful picture of a magnificent Blue Marlin which was released shortly after the picture was taken. Best Overall Log went to Dave Bishop on Tohuwahabu, who described their story of how they asked and received fuel in the middle of the Atlantic from a 138m tanker.

Delivering the rally this year would not have been possible without the enormous support in the host ports of Gran Canaria, Mindelo and Saint Lucia. Many thanks to Hon. Dominic Fedee Saint Lucia’s Minister of Tourism, the Events Company Saint Lucia and Saint Lucia Tourist Authority for devising, constructing and executing a truly unique prize giving. Greatly appreciated support also came from Sean Deveaux, General Manager of IGY Rodney Bay Marina, who without his devoted input this year it would have been a very different occasion.

Via video message, Minister of Tourism Hon. Dominic Fedee, thanked the participants and expressed his gratitude to the fleet for taking part this year and visiting Saint Lucia. On behalf of the Tourism Authority, PR Manager, Geraine Georges, concluded the proceedings and also thanking the fleet and wishing everyone a pleasant stay in Saint Lucia.

Each year, a special crew or individual is identified to receive the ARC+ Spirit of the Rally award. Chosen by the World Cruising Club Yellow-Shirt team, it is presented to someone who has significantly contributed to their fellow participants experience, and this year it was actions in port that were recognised. Prior to departure from Mindelo, delays with PCR Results caused problems for the fleet’s departure and Anders and Gunilla Ullman from yacht on Ydalir II (SWE) were able to share their knowledge, commitment and connections to assist with resolving the situation.

Andrew Pickersgill signed the awards proceeding off by thanking participants for crossing the Atlantic and said “It should not be forgotten that without you the participants being prepared to set sail and venture out in these uncertain times, then all our work would have been for nothing. So thank you for crossing the Atlantic and thank you for bringing some extra Christmas cheer to the lovely island of Saint Lucia.”

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