The latest news from the ARC

AfterLeopard of LondonandAcaia Cubecrossed the line last weekend in St Lucia, the rest of the fleet are only halfway. Here is an update from Day 16 of the ARC:

Russian salvage tugLeopardreached the stricken yachtCalisoand is now towing the yacht to Mindello in the Cape Verdes

Jean-PierreChomette’s Solunehas arrived in Trinidad, where he is hoping to make speedy repairs to the forward bulkhead and areas of delamination, which occurred beating in strong winds over a week ago.

Having suffered from a slow crossing, and with charter deadlines to meet,Kalikobass IIandHawkwinghave diverted to Antigua and will not be finishing in St Lucia.

More yachts are now closing on the finish, withMatelot,MojitoandEmikaall expected within the next 24 hours.

Trade winds holding as yachts report some excellent sailing. Skipper Gust Stringo on American yachtBluebird: “We are going downwind in brisk trades, and have had “Mad Max”, our full spinnaker, up for the last three days. We hit a top speed of 9.4kts this morning, surfing down a wave. Usually our speed is 6-7kts.

Watching the miles to St Lucia drop away has been good for moral onWhitbread. Andrew Scott explains: “With the distance now falling we are all feeling that we are nearing the end of our voyage. With moral now high with anticipation the thought of drinks on the dock is now the driving force for us to go faster.”

Like many yachts, the crew of Dutch yachtMiahave been engaging in a halfway party, continuing on today with a celebration of St Nicholas’ Day, when the bearded Saint paid a surprise visit. On British yachtNever Look Back, it was the turn of King Neptune to pay a call. In a change to the usual “crossing the line” ceremony, the Lord of the Deep Blue had decided that the halfway mark to St Lucia would be a suitable alternative to crossing the Equator, and novice crew were subjected to the usual humiliation before receiving Neptune’s blessing.

Yacht Charliz, who took the more northern route and encountered several nasty days at sea with TS Delta, are now 500 miles out of St Lucia and looking forward to the rum punches. Their log today said it all:

“The good news ? about 500 miles to go? 30 plus degrees? fab sunrises and sunsets?15 knots of breeze directly behind ?little swell? enough diesel to keep a constant supply of ice and air con ?googles of beer and wine left?loads of fresh fish, keep putting them back ? stopping for the odd swim? movie nights (Bourne Identitylast night).

The bad news?.no cruising chute? no spinnaker pole?. no autopilot… no compass light?great fun goose winging by hand, especially at night.
However still trucking along at almost seven knots. Even with the bad news it beats work!”

Others are still having a slow time of it.JustDoIt3report: “We are making slow progress, the sea is strange. It reminds me of heading through the Cuan Sound on the West Coast of Scotland as the tide turns, very choppy on top of a huge swell.”

It’s incredible to think the first yacht has just arrived, but most of the fleet are just celebrating their halfway parties.Galadrielhad their halfway party yesterday: “We celebrated with smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill wraps with champagne for lunch and then fillet steak, ratatouille and oven chips followed by freshly baked lemon cake for supper.”