The ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) which starts next Sunday (21 November) from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria promises a record entry.

The ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) which starts next Sunday (21 November) from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria promises a record entry.

Organised by the World Cruising Club from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria this 2,700 mile passage across the Atlantic to the Caribbean is fast becoming the most popular way to cross the Atlantic.

So far this year 192 boats have signed up and heading up the smaller yachts in the Racing Division is ARC2003 winner on handicap, Murka, back to defend her trophy. Owner Mikhail Mouratov and his mostly Russian crew raced the Swan 48 hard last year and will no doubt be hoping to repeat their winning performance, although this year the competition will be very tough.

With a very different approach to the rally are many of the smaller cruising yachts, setting out on their first ocean voyage into the big blue.

Jason and Kirstie Pickering had to put their plans to take part in last year’s ARC on hold, owing to the imminent arrival of baby Rosie. Now 11 months old, she will celebrate her first birthday on the day of the ARC start this year and the Pickerings are looking forward to many years of worldwide cruising aboard their 1997 Moody 31 Ciao. There are 15 yachts taking part with children on board and a total of 27 children, with Rosie Pickering being the youngest.

A Father and son team with a difference this year is Brian Norton junior, who at 38 is the Skipper and Brian Norton senior, a crew member at 71 years of age. They sail aboard their Warrior 40, Four Freedoms. Newly weds Duncan and Inge Stewart are planning to make their first Atlantic crossing double handed, aboard their Westerly Oceanlord 48, Anam Cara, as part of their year long honeymoon cruise.

Normally the ARC attracts around 20 yachts that undertake the crossing double handed, and a specially designed workshop is run for these crews in Las Palmas to bring them together and discuss safety issues, concerns and exchange ideas of best practice.

Norwegians Ole Schjerven and Trine Sjøvold are definitely living life to the maximum. Having recovered from a stroke last year, Ole persuaded his partner Trine that a cruise to the Caribbean would be the perfect recovery. Trine, who had never sailed before last year, is also on one of the smaller yachts in the ARC, Citrina a Gambling 34, and intends to use her skills as a laughter coach to keep up morale in the ARC fleet during their crossing.

Having worked in the IT Industry Lucy Marriott and Andy Williams are taking some time out from work to enjoy an extended cruise on their 1987 S&S42, Nimrod. Theirs is definitely a yacht with a proven cruising pedigree, having been sailed around Britain by her previous owner with the Round Britain rally, then a later sojourn in Scotland with the Classic Malts Cruise.