Separated by just 13 minutes, the first two ARC yachts cross the line in St Lucia, smashing the existing record in the process

If anyone ever said that ocean racing was boring, maybe they should think about competing in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers. On Friday 7 December, and just in time for lunch, the Farr 65Spirit of Dianapipped Swan 68Lady in Redat the post, winning the ARC 2001 by just thirteen minutes, and taking a whopping 18 hours of the previous record set by the Open 50Multicap Caraibes. “This has been the closest ever finsh in the ARC’s 16-year history,” commented Andrew Bishop, general manager of event organiser World Cruising Club.

Lady in Red, skippered by Belgian owner Guy Schelken, had led the fleet for almost the entire 2,650 mile crossing, until lessening winds in the last 24 hours saw the lighterSpirit of Diana, run by Formula One Events, just steal in front. WhenDianasnuck over the line, she was a mere half a mile ahead of the Swan. Her finish time takes 18 hrs 29 mins and 3 secs off the previous record, set in the ARC 2000 by Frenchman Luc Coquelin.

Ross Daniels, skipper ofDianaand at 22 the youngest skipper in the ARC, was delighted in his result, in a crossing that has seen the entire fleet revelling in the strong and consistent trade winds. “The crew sailed the yacht extremely well and they deserve this outstanding result,” he said just after finishing. “They have proved that when people work together anything is possible.”

Also onSpirit of Dianawas 44-year-old Tim Horsfield. As a sailing novice, he proved to be a very competent helmsman, in spite of the fact he is registered blind. His remarkable achievement was made possible thanks to an audio compass.

Look out for Yachting World’s race report and a look at the thrills, spills, breakages and people of the ARC 2001, coming up in the February and March editions