Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina has been welcoming the first ARC+ finishers after completing Leg 2 of their 2,200nm Atlantic crossing from Mindelo, S. Vicente, Cape Verde Islands to the final Caribbean destination - the Spice Island of Grenada.
With 30 rally boats now safely docked in the heart of the tri-island nation’s capital of St George’s, it’s been a steady flow of arrivals since the first boat of the 90-strong ARC+ fleet crossed the line, each receiving a marvelous dockside welcome celebrating their ocean-crossing achievement.
The ARC+ fleet departed Cape Verde on 18 November, spending almost two weeks on the open ocean, with strong tradewinds and swell making for a bumpy sleigh ride to the Caribbean. The challenge has made the rum-punch taste all the sweeter, the dockside reunions filled with emotion and the reward of arriving in Grenada well-earned by the crews of ARC+ 2022.
ARC+ is a cruising rally attracting one of the most diverse fleets of any sailing event in the world, with boats of all shapes and sizes taking part, and a special blend of experienced racing sailors and Corinthian amateurs all sailing the ocean together. Each arrival has their own story of their days at sea; some have been clocking up top speeds, and others have enjoyed the disconnect from the modern world.
First Family Boats Arrive
With 36 children under the age of 16 taking part this year, the anticipation of making landfall after so many days at sea was a cause for great excitement for the young sailors as the first of 16 family boats arrived over the last few days, giving the children a chance to see their new-found ARC+ friends again. For their parents, it has no doubt been a great sense of achievement (and relief) to have completed their Atlantic adventure safely and to now have time to enjoy Grenada, the ARC+ shoreside programme of events, and to celebrate their accomplishment.
The Baltic 51 Alexandra were the first family boat to arrive in Grenada making landfall on Tuesday night, and several hours later, Amy Warwick and husband Simon on Pacific Pearl followed in the early hours of Wednesday morning. With their three young children; Evie (8), Harry (6) and Rosie (4), the family is sailing on their British-flagged Oyster Lightwave 48 bought in 2020. They were delighted to be greeted on the dock with the traditional ARC+ welcome given to all boats, with gifts from the Grenada Tourism Authority, rum punches for the adults from Port Louis Marina, and plenty of congratulations from well-wishers on the dock as they tied up: “The goal was just to get to Grenada and to complete ARC+,” said Amy. “All of a sudden, we are here and it’s a big achievement for us as a family. It takes a lot to do this with the kids, but the ARC+ has been amazing, with the parties and all the other boats with families; there’s a real feeling of camaraderie.”
Leading The Arrivals
It was Vincenzo Addessi’s fast cruiser-racer Mylius 60 Fra Diavolo who made it across the finish line first and the Italian team set a new course record of 9 days, 5 hours 26 minutes and 49 seconds (elapsed time), having made landfall on Sunday afternoon (27 November). The crew were jubilant as they celebrated their achievement at a dockside arrival ceremony with Zara Tremlett, General Manager of Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, and Alyssa Bierzynski, representing the Grenada Tourism Authority. One of the crew, Giulio Gatti said: “We had a tough but exhilarating passage, reaching speeds of over 20 knots in sometimes confused seas, and at night. There were times when we were certainly not in our comfort zone!”
Taking line honours last year, the Outremer 51 Piment Rouge (FRA) was the victor in a one-on-one match race with the identical multihull Helia2 (USA) this time round. The two crews had almost stuck hull-to-hull with each other for the 10-day crossing, taking a mostly northerly route. Such was the closeness of the two crews that, having crossed the finish line, Piment Rouge took the reciprocal course and went back to accompany Helia2 across the finish line!
Flying Over This Beautiful Ocean
As roughly a third of the fleet has made landfall in these early days of the programme, the reports from those arriving over the past few days have referred to the “rolly, uncomfortable sea state” and good, strong tradewinds making for a fast, but more challenging final leg to Grenada. For many participants, this would be their first, long ocean passage and after almost two weeks at sea, several reflect in their boat logs on their thoughts as they near the finish.
Liz Brigstocke’s yacht log from on board Nicholas Homan’s Wauquiez 48PS Amokura (GBR) sums up the feeling of many crews as they approach the end of their ARC+ experience: “It’s hard to imagine how we will all feel when we get there. My personal feelings are mixed as, whilst excited by the thought of arrival in the Caribbean, part of me never wants this to end. Flying over this beautiful blue ocean in the sunshine, feeling at one with the rhythms of nature, and avoiding the first frosts of winter back home. I wonder how we will all adjust to crowds, traffic, noise, alcohol and walking on dry land again! We will find out soon…”
With the docks steadily filling up, and several of the 800+ crew now in Grenada, ARC+ programme kicks off today, Thursday 1st December at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina. The week-long celebration for the arriving crews features a Market Village, half-day tours, talks, Kids Fun Day, a trade show by the Marine and Yachting Association of Grenada, happy hours at the Victory Bar, and the grand finale – the last hurrah at the 2022 ARC+ Prizegiving at Prickly Bay, hosted by Grenada Tourism Authority on Thursday 8 December.