An emotional closure for ARC 2021

There is no such thing as a “typical” Atlantic rally for cruisers (ARCs), and 2021 has proven once again why sailing the same route at the same time of year can produce so many different experiences.

The ingredients of the RCAF, the boats and the nationalities, the ambitions and the experience, the weather and the itineraries added together, offer each RCAF crew their own unique Atlantic adventure.

Around the same time last year, the world was hoping the pandemic was almost over, but sadly it continued to cast a shadow over the 36th RCAF. The success of the 2020 edition greatly contributed to the smooth running of a second ‘Covid ARC’, the crews admirably overcoming the challenges of preparing for long-distance navigation by following protocols and advice. After the crew bubbles and the mass departure tests of the crews in the departure port of Las Palmas, which forced three boats to postpone their participation, a fleet of 143 boats left Gran Canaria on the 21st November.

This year, the weather was the topic of discussion on the docks of Saint Lucia; its impact on routing, crew fatigue, boat equipment and sails. The first calms of the first week were displaced by strong and persistent trade winds, creating an exciting ride across the open 3000 NM ocean. For some, who loved the waves and the thrills of the hand on the big ocean swells, it was an exhilarating trip. For others, it was a more deadly experience with a confused sea and waves lifted by an unusual low north of the Azores sending swells south, to meet the strong NE trade winds of this season.

Unfortunately, for the crew of the X-Yachts X4.3 Agecanonix, their ARC ended in tragedy when an unintentional jibe in difficult conditions on the north route resulted in the death of crew member Max Delannoy. A sad loss for them, their families and the entire RCAF seafaring community.

Winds and waves were contributing factors that led to the abandonment of a second ARC boat, after the Hanse 588 Charlotte Jane III suffered a catastrophic rudder failure 1500 NM from Saint Lucia. Unable to fix their steering, or to navigate the rough seas by drugs, the crew were transferred to the Oyster 55 Magic Dragon of Dart, one of the many ARC yachts that remained alongside their rally mates. overnight. The combined crews arrived at Rodney Bay with an enthusiastic welcome 9 days later. Subsequently, Charlotte Jane III and Agecanonix have now been recovered, once sea conditions permitted.

It was against this backdrop of harsh weather, drama at sea and emotions on land that RCAF crews gathered on the dock at IGY Marina in Rodney Bay for the annual awards ceremony which marks the close of this year’s ARC. It was an opportunity to relive the memories of RCAF 2021, to celebrate the achievement of all RCAF sailors in crossing 3,000 NM of ocean; and thank the supporters, the many helpers in Gran Canaria and Saint Lucia, the customs, immigration and port health officers, and of course the yellow shirts of the ARC, who worked tirelessly to organize a Covid-secure event.

Local restrictions on public gatherings in St. Lucia forced a “reinvented” awards celebration, with the marina docks becoming a grand arena and crews being able to join from the cockpits of their own boats. The 65-foot Flying Ray catamaran became the backdrop, complete with screens and sound. Party bags were delivered to all boats, and crews from other docks were also able to buddy boat and watch the show.

ARC Event Director Andrew Pickersgill opened the evening by thanking the crews for their participation. This year has certainly produced its challenges and we would like to thank you all for your participation in ARC 2021. This crossing of the Atlantic remains a real challenge. You should all be extremely proud of your success.

At the start of the IRC Racing division boat awards, Andrew Pickersgill invited the crews to come together and remember Max Delannoy. Minutes of silence interrupted at the end by a thunder of moving and spontaneous applause for the Agecanonix crew.

With the entire wharf as an arena, the winners were invited from their boats to the podium to receive their prizes. 12 Nacira 69, owned by Diego Paternò Castello di San Giuliano and Federico Marchi, and skippered for the ARC by Federico Dosso, won the Line Honors for the first come (Racing) and the winners of the Racing division.

Accustomed to the ARC, the Salamander crew were delighted to win the Racing Class B. In the Multihull division, Gwenael Chapalain’s Marsaudon TS5 Guyader Saveol took first place in class A, and overall, the Excess 11 Marco Knitel’s Bombarda winning class B. For cruising monohulls, the Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 52.2, Mizar III piloted by Francesco Da Rios took the place of overall winner, making it two out of three for Italian sailors.

Sean Deveaux of IGY Rodney Bay Marina, Taddius Antoine, President of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, and the Honorable Dr Ernest Hilaire, Minister of Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information have attended the awards ceremony. Everyone addressed the participants of ARC 2021, congratulating them on their successful crossing of the Atlantic and warmly welcomed them to call Saint Lucia “home”.

The ARC is a cruising rally, and with that in mind there have been awards for categories unrelated to competition. Bigger and smaller fish, radio net checkers, older and younger captains were among the many prizes. One of the biggest applause was for the boats of the ARC family – 33 young sailors, ages 3 to 14, sailing 15 boats this year. Each young sailor received an award for their achievements.

As we have all grown used to socializing from a distance, the ARC SSB Radio Net was a hive of activity in 2021 with the creation of a thriving community. From quizzes to recipe tips, weather and grain activity to fishing bluster, Net participants find sailing in a fleet of boats a real asset. Arriving in Saint Lucia, the “network controllers” all received the warmest of welcomes and there were great cheers at the awards ceremony as the hosts put faces to voices and took to the stage.

Friends and family who follow the boats home have been able to get a glimpse of Atlantic sailing through blogs sent by the crews as they cross. Prizes were awarded for the best non-English log to the Chilean Minga crew and the best photos sent by Emily Morgan, long-standing ARC participant. For their fun daily logs, the creative team at Maalu IV received the Best Overall Logs award.

The culmination of the awards night each year is the converted “Spirit of the ARC” award. Kept for the end of the procedure, it is handed over to the crew, or crew member, who, by their extraordinary actions, have demonstrated the spirit of what the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers is – a more cruising cruise. safe and more enjoyable in the company of others. To delighted applause, the Magic Dragon of Dart team were called to the stage to receive this year’s award, in recognition of their selfless support for Charlotte Jane III.

To wrap up the evening, Andrew Pickersgill of the World Cruising Club thanked all the crews for making the ARC 2021 such a special event and congratulated Saint Lucia for their welcome and support to all the crews in the ARC. The World Cruising Club will return to Saint Lucia at the end of January 2022, with the first edition of the new ARC January road. Until then, goodbye to all the crews of the ARC 2021.

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