World ARC cruisers head into the South Atlantic to be joined by the Heineken Cape to Bahia Race

It was farewell to Cape Town for the World ARC fleet this weekend (Saturday 3 January), eight weeks after arriving in South Africa at Richards Bay. Ahead lies a 3,330-mile voyage across the South Atlantic Ocean, with a mid-Atlantic stopover at the island of St.Helena, before finishing at Salvador de Bahia on the Brazilian coast.

For this leg, the World ARC has joined together with the Heineken Cape to Bahia Race, run in conjunction with the Royal Cape Yacht Club, doubling the size of the race’s cruising division. Together with 16 other yachts, mostly from South Africa, the World ARC cruisers will cross the South Atlantic, calling at St.Helena for a 72 hour stopover, en route to Brazil. The Heineken Cape to Bahia racing yachts will leave on 10 January, and sail direct to Salvador.

Since its inception in 1971, the race has become an offshore classic. This year’s fleet includes Mike Slade’s 100-foot super maxi ICAP Leopard (GBR) and George David’s 90-foot Rambler (USA), both vying for line honours.

Even with their seven day head-start, the cruising division yachts won’t be finishing first, since for them participation is more about taking part than racing. However, with the chance to win prizes and just a little glory, even the cruisers enjoyed their start yesterday.

In the building 18 knot WNW breeze, the 32 strong fleet crossed the start line at 1400 local time. There was some keen sailing on the line, with front runners Kealoha 8, Faraway and local boat Summer Love all tight at the start, with Luis Abreu Freire’s Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49 Faraway just squeezing ahead at the gun. For the entertainment of spectators ashore, there was a turning mark laid off Mouille Point just over a mile from the start.