Great downwind sailing conditions speed ARC 2014 crews on their way


Crews in the ARC 2014 transatlantic rally, which left from Las Palmas for Saint Lucia on Monday, are happily settling into life at sea and are now 48 hours in to their Atlantic crossing adventure.

Life is all about surfing down waves, sail changes and dolphin spotting. Summed up by a crewmember on board the yacht Aretha; ‘Once you slip your lines and head out there is little else you can do and you settle into a routine on the boat. All you have to do now is enjoy the sailing and change your land routines for sea routines. And so it has been with us as well.’

During the first 24 hours at sea the fleet experienced a moderate north-easterly wind to whisk them from Las Palmas, ‘Little Pea and her crew have stormed down the East Coast of Gran Canaria and through the acceleration zone where we saw wind speeds consistently in the mid to high 30s,’ reported the crew on board the Southerly 38. ‘Whilst bombing down this inside track, Little Pea was in her element taking on much larger vessels. We’re one of the 10 smallest yachts competing this year, which in theory means we should be one of the 10 slowest too.’

Among the larger yachts is 100ft supermaxi Leopard by Finland, also enjoying some plain sailing, ‘We have done one solitary sail change soon after the start to our biggest spinnaker and since then we have gybed a couple of times and sitting on around 20 knots plus or minus 5 knots of boatspeed in glorious conditions,’ skipper Chris Sherlock reported.

The crew has the ARC course record  firmly in their sights.

On board Morning Haze, a Hunter 410 owned by the Hayes family, they have already been fishing. In fact, the first catch was claimed by the Czech crew on Apollon, who landed a wahoo just ten minutes after the start.

A number of boats, however, diverted following the start to make repairs and are hoping to continue with the rally following repairs. One yacht had rigging damage while two more diverted to Marina San Miguel, Tenerife with a damaged mainsail and autopilot failure respectively. Yacht  Leeway is  back in Las Palmas and has withdrawn after an accidental gybe cause rig damage.

Meanwhile further into the Atlantic, 51 yachts sailing ARC+ rally, which departed from Mindelo in the Cape Verde Islands a week ago, are continuing to make good progress towards Saint Lucia. Over half of the fleet have now celebrated reaching the halfway point.