Approximately 80 yachters are set to depart from Saint Lucian shores, today (Saturday), as the World ARC [Atlantic Rally for Cruisers] 2023 fleet sets out on a 15-month journey across the globe.
On Thursday, the yachters gathered for an exciting ‘farewell’ social gathering, compliments of Events St Lucia (ESL) in collaboration with the St Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA).
Andrew Pickersgill, Events Coordinator, acknowledged the challenging “adventure” that the seafarers consisting of family and friends of all ages will undertake over the next 15 months.
“Saturday’s start sees the realisation of life-long dreams and the culmination of years of planning. And that in itself is a huge achievement,” declared Pickersgill.
He added: “And now, all you need to do is sail away and embrace the challenge of the journey and your 15-month voyage around the world.”
IGY Rodney Bay Marina has provided the base for the anchor leg and eventual departure of the fleet, and the IGY General Manager Shawn Devaux was present to convey greetings to the voyagers.
“We hold the World ARC in a special place in our heart …because for the ARC and other events put on by World Cruising Club (WCC) it really becomes like a family affair,” he noted.
Some of the sailors have been on island from last December, and for the six-weeks period or so that they have been here making preparations for the sailing adventure, Devaux said , “We are so happy and feel privileged to be part of that and (to) help you prepare for that journey around the world .”
SLTA chairman Thaddeus Antoine described the sailors as being “phenomenal, and awesome to decide to do a world cruise” circumnavigating around the world.
He acknowledged the “world class facilities” provided by the IGY Marina to accommodate the yachters on island, and the accompanying hospitality provided by the ESL and SLTA staffers.
While noting the magnitude of the challenge to be undertaken by the fleet, Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire told the gathering “you have to be great to do what you do” taking on this sailing adventure. The minister lauded the local event organisers for affording the guests an enjoyable and exciting stay on island, and said he awaits the visitors’ safe return to local shores.
He added: “Good luck and have a fantastic time.”
The WCC describes the World ARC as “a round-the-world adventure taking place over 15 months and covering 26,000 nautical miles. Following the classic tradewinds route, the rally avoids regions of political instability, piracy and the storm seasons in both hemispheres”.
It adds: “World ARC is a mix of cruising in company and free time to explore. The pace of the rally allows the fleet to stay together, and to enjoy shore-side activities as a group. There are longer free cruising periods that allow participants to fly home for work or family, or to travel further by air; for example to Easter Island, New Zealand or Madagascar.”
Swade Pickersgill, assistant event organizer is a member of the ‘Yellow Team’ volunteers who assist the adventurers on their world cruise.
Describing the role of the eight or so members of the yellow team, she explained, “We are in every location that they stop, so we are here to support them in every country that they stop in.
“We travel with them and we organise their entry and exit into the country … so the immigration and customs procedure runs smoothly and properly.”
Swade and her husband Andrew are both passionate sailors that also own a boat and according to her, “We understand what the participants are feeling and help them to get along on the journey.”
The World ARC is into its 12th edition, Swade explained, and many of the yachters have participated in the ARC race and some of them “have across with us…and 70% of the boats have done events previously.”
Mrs. Pickersgill said the sailors came from about 15 different nationalities, with quite a lot of the participants originating from Sweden and the Netherlands, and also from Germany, Spain, Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, England, Italy and “that’s a wide range of people, this year.”