Karsten Moller's Swan 82 takes line honours in the ARC 2008 after a slow crossing

After a crossing of just under 14 days in light and variable conditions, the first yacht to finish the ARC 2008 arrived at Rodney Bay, St.Lucia yesterday – 7 December. Karsten Moller’s Swan 82 DreamCatcherKM (skippered by Jarrod Cripps) took line honours, crossing the finish line at 08:44 local time. Both boat and nine crewman looked in great shape after their 2,670 nautical mile passage from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

Louis Lewis, Director of Tourism in St. Lucia was present to welcome the yacht into the newly refurbished Rodney Bay Marina, along with a steel band, local television, and a crowd of well wishers. And of course, there was the famous ice-cold rum punch and basket of fruit presented to each ARC yacht by the people of St. Lucia.

With an elapsed time 13 days, 23 hours, and 44 minutes, DreamcatcherKM was over 60 hours behind the current ARC course record stand of 11 days, 5 hours and 32 minutes, set in 2006 by the Italian maxi, Capricorno. The difference in elapsed time reflects the lighter airs experienced by this year’s fleet. A series of low-pressure systems in the central Atlantic have caused unsettled weather patterns resulting in lighter seasonal tradewinds than is usual. Indeed, a browse through the many logs the crews have been submitting to the ARC website everyday illustrates some of the frustrations being felt, as well as the frequent change in sail plan whenever the wind picks up.

Finishing close behind was the second arrival, Bruce Dingwall’s Southwind 80 – Matelot, a regular ARC participant. Skipper Angus Fuller brought her in 8 hours behind the larger Swan, having kept pace almost all the way across from Gran Canaria.

Further arrivals are expected during the next 24 hours and winds are predicted to become more settled with consistent tradewinds from late Tuesday/Wednesday according to the latest forecasts from Commander’s Weather. Currently, over half the fleet still have more than 1,000 miles to cover, and, whilst arrivals over the next few days will still remain quite low, the numbers will pick up significantly from Wednesday onwards. Just in time to take advantage of the great social programme laid on especially for ARC participants at Rodney Bay Marina.