ARC 2003 Diamonds International prizegiving brings the rally to a close

Soft Caribbean music filled the evening air and ARC crews enjoyed cool glasses of rum punch as they arrived at the Gaeity Night Club in Gros Islet yesterday (Saturday 20th December) for the ARC 2003 Diamonds International Prizegiving. The evening, sponsored by Diamonds International and AT&T Wireless marked the official end of ARC 2003, and a chance to thank all those involved, as well as marking the achievements of all the crews participating in the rally.

Andrew Bishop, Director of World Cruising Club opened the evening by thanking all the ARC Sponsors, and in particular the St. Lucia Tourist Board, AT&T Wireless, Diamonds International and Rodney Bay Marina, whose support has made ARC 2003 such a success.

As well as prizes awarded for handicap results in each of the 11 classes, there were awards for individual achievement, line honours, and fun competitions. All the ARC kids – the under 16s, were recognised with certificates and prizes, as well as awards for the most senior and most junior skippers. Veteran ARC skipper Manfred Kerstan was called on stage to receive an award marking his 10th participation in the ARC, going all the way back to the very first rally in 1986. The volunteer radio net controllers from Apsara, Blue Destiny, Mi-Lady, Stormbird, Frangi, Moonshadow, Northern Child, La Contenta, Vanish, Ballytrim, Galadriel, Topaz, Tenacious, Lhasa, SamSam, Alliance, Helice, Intrepid of Dover, Ocean Wanderer and Songster, without whom the ARC radio net would not happen, received one of the biggest cheers when they assembled for a group photo and special prize.

There was one new award presented this year, the Philip Hitchcock Memorial, presented on behalf of Philip’s brother David, following Philip’s death during the ARC last year. The award is for the yacht, which in the opinion of the organisers, has been most thoroughly prepared and has the highest standards of safety equipment and crew safety awareness. The first recipient of this award was the yacht Eumenidies, also at 31ft the smallest yacht in ARC 2003.

In the competitive side of the ARC, Spirit received their trophy for line honours and a new course record, as well as winning Division II, RORC IRC overall. Division IV Multihull winner of line honours, and overall handicap was Maya. Overall winner of Division I Cruising was Maniac, whilst the top competitive prize, winner of ARC 2003 on handicap was Mikhail Mouratov’s Swan 48 Murka.

However, without doubt the most coveted prize, and perhaps the most difficult to award, is the annual Spirit of the ARC. This is received by the crew of the yacht which encapsulates the ethos of the ARC; not by being fastest or biggest, but through participation and helping others, by encouraging the fun and camaraderie which is the lifeblood of the ARC. There was a huge cheer and tremendous applause when the ARC 2003 Spirit of the ARC winners, the MacDonald Family onboard Helice, was announced.

The Honourable Philip J Pierre, Minister of Commerce, Investment, Tourism and Consumer Affairs, brought the evening to a close by thanking all the ARC participants for visiting St. Lucia and wishing them fair winds and happy memories during their sojourn in the Caribbean this winter.

Crews then spilled out onto the lawn at the Gaety Night Club and the party continued a pace, with steel pan music filling the warm tropical night. The bar was busy until late into the evening, as ARC participants bid farewell to each other, or planned their Caribbean Christmas rendezvous with new found sailing friends.