ARC 2023: Berenice – First Across the Finish Line 🚤

By Reginald Andrew

The 14-member crew of Berenice was the first across the finish line at Rodney Bay, as this season’s Atlantic Rally for Cruisers [ARC] has a winner with other vessels expected to anchor in the next two weeks.

Berenice, the first ARC boat across the finish line at the IGY Rodney Bay Marina
Berenice, the first ARC boat across the finish line at the IGY Rodney Bay Marina

This was the 6th voyage across the Atlantic for most of the Berenice’s crew members, according to the boat owner Marco Randolfi.

On Monday, representatives from Saint Lucia’s major tourism agencies were on hand to greet the crew at the IGY Rodney Bay Marina where they shared warm pleasantries  and Saint Lucian hospitality with the visiting sailors.

Berenice – a Swan 90, made landfall on December 1 at 22:39:34 local time, in a time of 12 days, 13 hours and 58 minutes to claim Line Honours on the 3,000 nautical-mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean, from the Canary Island to the finish line in Saint Lucia.

The crew is made up of individuals from Italy, Spain, Portugal and France, with the skipper Fernando Martinez De Aparicio having Venezuelan roots.

“This year’s ARC was certainly full of excitement in Las Palmas, the Grand Canaria and with 155 yachts, with almost 1000 crew members from 36 different countries enjoying the Spanish culture during the buildup to the start,” ARC -Event Manager Andrew Pickersgill told the gathering.

In anticipation of the events to follow and all within the Yuletide holiday season, he said, the IGY Rodney Marina will definitely be abuzz with activity “fueled by Saint Lucia’s inspirational hospitality”.

IGY Rodney Bay Marina’s General Manager Sean Devaux described the hosting of this global yachting event as a “partnership” between IGY and the key stakeholders that includes the World Cruising Club, Mistruth of Tourism, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority [SLTA] and Events Company of Saint Lucia (ECSL).

“It’s a partnership that goes back many moons and its testament to you …taking part in the ARC, having the courage to do that 2, 700-mile journey and we are just so proud to be part of the welcoming team on this part of the Atlantic,” he said …

SLTA’s Marketing Manager Chris Gustave lauded the efforts of the winning crew, stating that, “the unwavering dedication, impeccable team work and maritime prowess have not only conquered the Atlantic, but have also left a mark on Saint Lucia’s maritime history.”

Speaking to reporters, Randolfi recalled that he first made the Atlantic crossing in the early 2000s and most of the crew were primarily still in the mix …

Berenice’s skipper De Aparicio explained that the only female crew member in the group is the cook “and she really did a great job keeping up with all of us…kept us very well fed and in a good mood throughout the journey.” He described the team “as a super-experienced crew …and the weather was super nice, it was really a nice crossing, very exciting and (on) the last day we finally had nice strong winds to take us to the (finish) line at full speed.”

De Aparicio added that after the trauma and setbacks over the past couple years brought about by the pandemic and other negating factors, “It is certainly nice to be back on the ocean.”

He said, the crew looks forward to enjoying their trip, and “to spend some time in Saint Lucia and the Caribbean …as we will travel between the islands until May (next year) and enjoy the nice weather.”

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