Answers to some of the commonly asked questions about the ARC rally
Some 180 yachts and 1,200 crews are getting ready to set off on Sunday 23 November on the annual transatlantic ARC rally from Las Palmas, Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia. The crossing is, in most cases, the culmination of months or years of detailed preparations.
The majority of ARC yachts are family cruisers, sailed by family and friends on the adventure of a lifetime. Most yachts are monohulls, but multihulls are steadily getting more popular, and there will be 25 sailing the ARC rally this year.
But what does the ARC involve and what can the crews expect on the rally? We answer some FAQs.
Q. How far is it from Las Palmas to Saint Lucia?
A. The rhumb line distance is 2,700 miles, but depending on how far south boats go before turning west the actual distance sailed can be up to 3,000 miles.
Q. How much does it cost?
A. It varies depending on LOA and crew numbers. The cost for a typical boat and four crew is £1,500.
Q. What do you get for the money?
A. A comprehensive handbook with info for preparations, two weeks of activities, parties and seminars in Las Palmas, 14 days of activities and parties in Saint Lucia, daily forecast, satellite tracking and position reporting, three days’ free berthing Saint Lucia and discounts in marinas en route to the start.
Q. How long does it take?
A. It depends on the wind conditions, of course, but typical times are 16-18 days for a 45ft yacht. The majority of family cruisers on most years arrive between 18 and 21 days after starting.
Q. What sort of weather can they expect?
A. With a crossing as early in the season as the ARC in November, the tradewinds are not aways well established and you can headwinds, calms, rough seas, squalls, normal Trades or any and all of those. It’s still a bit too early to say for this year and, as always, getting good, up-to-date weather information is important.
Q. Where can I get weather forecasts, synoptic charts and grib files?
A. Daily forecasts are sent out by World Cruising Club. Good sources of synoptic charts are: http://weather.noaa.gov/fax/gulf.shtml http://weather.noaa.gov/fax/marsh.shtml#SFC http://weather.noaa.gov/fax/otherfax.shtml. Also, Ugrib, Mailasail and Saildocs are excellent sources for grib files.
Q. What’s the best route to take?
A. It depends on the weather on any given year. Sometimes the direct route is quickest, although it often gives a period of headwinds or calms. The most reliable passage plan is, however, sometimes the quickest: run your latitude down to around 20°N, 30°W before turning right, following the age-old advice to ‘head south til the butter melts’.
Q. What’s the best sail plan?
A. It’s really personal preference, depending on how you like to sail and how competitive you are. You can use twin headsails, a symmetric or asymmetric spinnaker; or a main and poled-out genoa ‘barn doors’ set-up will do fine.
Q Can I use my engine?
A. Yes, if you are in the cruising division. All boats are given an ARC handicap and for fun competition time penalties are added for motoring hours. For anyone who wants to race competitively there is a racing division.
Q. What happens in an emergency?
A.Yachts are able to assist each other via the ARC radio net and World Cruising Club liaises with the Coastguard MRCC.
Q. How much water should I carry?
A. A good guide for a basic minimum is 5 litres per person per day.
Q. How can I find a crew position on an ARC yacht
A. Many crews and skippers use World Cruising’s crew finding service, http://oceancrewlink.com
Q. How can I follow the ARC?
From the first position reports after the start until the last boat finishes, daily reports will be displayed at www.worldcruisingclub.com as well as yacht blogs.