Smaller boats and fewer crew are this year's surprise trends


In four days’ time, the 21st ARC transatlantic rally to St Lucia gets underway from Las Palmas, and another full rally will head west for the 2,700-mile tradewinds (fingers crossed) passage to the Caribbean. Each ARC is that little bit different, and this year the emphasis seems to have shifted slightly to boats of 40ft and under. The average size hasn’t changed (47ft) but more and more people are heading off in smaller and more affordable production cruisers.

That may also explain another significant statistic this year: the large number of double-handers. Some 30 couples of all ages are choosing to do the crossing by themselves, and have specifically opted for a yacht of a size they can handle.

Anyone who has done the ARC before would notice a big change. The life and soul has fully migrated to the pontoons where the more average yachts are berthed. The days when the heart of the ARC was along the wall, and the biggest yachts seemed to take pride of place are long gone.