A bumper fleet sets off across the Atlantic from Gran Canaria on ARC 2016 with one of the most diverse fleets of yachts seen in the rally's 31-year history
A massed fleet of 212 yachts from 31 different nations set off on the ARC 2016 transatlantic rally today in ideal north-easterly winds of 10-12 knots.
The fleet this year is one of the most diverse collections of yachts you will ever see in any single event, and one of the most eclectic in the ARC’s 31-year history. Where else could you see the likes of the maxi Rambler 88, stocked with some of the world’s best racers, blast off from the same start line as a home built wooden ketch or a couple on a 32-footer?
The rally takes cruising and racing crews 2,700 miles to Saint Lucia. This year saw a record number of crews taking part, with a total of 284 including the parallel event the ARC+ rally which is also underway after stopping in the Cape Verde Islands.
Some 1,307 sailors are taking part in the ARC. And while the ARC is first and foremost a cruising rally, there is a start and finish line, and the boats are split into divisions according to size, type and competition. There is also a dedicated IRC racing division, with 30 yachts entered.
They include two Volvo 70s and George David’s Rambler 88 with an all-star crew aboard including Brad Butterworth, Brad Jackson, Erle Williams, Simon Daubney and Jan Dekker, with Andrew Cape as navigator – 18 people in all total ready to drive this boat to the absolute maximum in pursuit of line honours and the rally record of 8d 7h.
But 70 per cent of the ARC fleet is cruising across, and hoping to enjoy some comforts at sea. They include racer-turned-cruiser Knut Frostad, former CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, in his Outremer 5X Nemo.
Catamarans making up an increasing number of boats in the rally. There are 29 multihulls taking part, the largest of which is the high-speed Nigel Irens design, all carbon APC78 Allegra, with crew including speed record holders Paul Larsen and Helena Darvelid.
While the fastest in the fleet may cross in 8-10 days, the majority of crews will take 18-21 days to make the 2700-mile Atlantic crossing, arriving in mid-December.