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5th edition of the Viking Explorers Rally arrives in Grenada after a slow Atlantic crossing

by Oliver Solanas 10 Feb 2022 16:07 UTC 9 February 2022

The fifth edition of the Viking Explorers Rally arrived for the second time in Port Louis Marina, Grenada. 18 boats on this year's event, ranging from 34 to 60 feet, from ten different countries (France, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Australia, United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Poland) had set sail from the Canary Islands on the 6th of January.

This year the rally not only suffered the ever-changing health protocols but was the slowest crossing since it started. The Azores High kept shifting away northwards as low pressure systems developed on lower latitudes, affecting the Tradewinds. After a strong start in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with strong winds up to 25-30knts for two days, the fleet had to deal with big calms throughout the crossing, using the engine more than expected, and only those with a more southerly route towards the Caribbean experienced better sailing conditions.

The crews departed Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on the Canary Islands and arrived some 2800 miles later in Port Louis Marina, in Grenada. Those that stopped in Mindelo some 850 miles from the Canary Islands to stock up, or for a technical fuel stop continued their way across the Atlantic and only two boats decided to continue on the direct route to Grenada.

Sy Kiah, an Island Packet 38 with English captain Tim Pollock, and SY Azores High, a Hylas 49, with Irish captain Alistair Harkness, decided not to stop in the Mindelo, Cape Verde. It took them 26 days and 25 days respectively.

After a week in Mindelo, the fleet departed from Cape Verde across the Atlantic, what was going to be a very slow crossing, as the Rally organizers kept monitoring the fleet and the weather conditions. No problem, nothing to worry about, as long they had enough fuel, water and food. But the fleet was well prepared and no big incidences where reported during the crossing. The usual broken spinnaker during a squall or other minor issues that did not affect the safety of the sailors.

As Barbara from SY Eleuthera stated: "We calculated for a crossing from Cape Verde to Grenada of about 12 days, it took us 15 days."

Another issue reported was the amount of Sargasso weed founded already near the Cape Verde Islands, something not experienced in the previous years, where this weed was found normally after approximately half way through the Atlantic. This Sargasso weed does affect the Windpilots, hydrogenerators and fishing as sailors reported.

This is the second year the Viking Explorers arrive in Grenada, and the Grenada Tourism Authority, Camper & Nicholson Port Louis Marina welcomed the sailors and made them feel like at home. An honor for these sailors after such an achievement and arriving weeks later on this side of the Atlantic.

As boats were arriving, they were welcomed personally by Chinel Sandy from the Grenada Tourism Authority and Port Louis Marina manager Zara Tremlett, as well as fellow sailors and the Viking Explorers staff.

After their arrival, participants enjoyed several parties and Sundowners offered by the Grenada Tourism Authority, Port Louis Marina, Grenada Yacht Club, The Petit Calivigny Yacht Club, Budget Marine and Spice Island Marine Services, and the Welcome Ceremony at the True Blue Bay Resort.

At the Welcome Ceremony, Nikoyan Roberts, Manager of the Nautical Department from the Grenada Tourism Authority, welcomed the sailors, thanking them all for having chosen this island as their destination after the Atlantic Crossing. Zara Tremlett also welcomed all sailors, and Oliver Solanas Heinrichs, Managing Director of Viking Explorers and Carlota Texeira, PR for Viking Explorers, thanked everyone for contributing to such a great and friendly group.

Participants received many gifts from sponsors, as each of them came on stage, and everyone was so amazed for being part now of this great family, where everybody knows each other. Some of the participants performed some songs on stage, while enjoying the Rum Punch, Finger food, and a Rum and Chocolate Tasting offered by True Blue Bay.

At the fun prize giving, SY Namo, was awarded for being the newest boat, a Beneteau Sense 51 from 2018 and SY Meander, a Colvic 34 from year 1973 for being the oldest one. The prize for the biggest boat went to SY Eleuthera, a Fountaine Pajot 60, from New Zealand, and for SY Kiah as the smallest boat,an Island Packet 380. The prize was shared with SY Meander. The youngest captain was Jonas from SY Felicia av Stockholm (1975) and the oldest captain Chris Evans (1949), from SY Ari.

The very special prize, the "Spirit of the Viking Explorers" went to SY Eleuthera, from New Zealand, whose crew made many good friends within the rally and had built up a strong camaraderie with all of them, in the true ethos of this rally. A special award was also given to Dr. Howard Dryden and Diana Duncan from SY Copepod for their project GOES, having performed a research of plankton where 12 boats took part during the crossing.

A very emotional moment came at the end of the presentation, when the video of the Viking Explorers 2022 with all the memories since this fleet got together months ago got shown on screen. After that, the traditional Steel Pan Band "New Dimensions" performed while participants enjoyed the evening and the never-ending rum.

The rally Viking Explorers has been so far a tremendous success with this year's event being indeed a very special one due to the Pandemic. The organization has had a big support by many, where everyone has contributed to the success, adapting to the continuous changing health protocols. Also a big challenge for the participants to first reach the Canary Islands and then getting ready under constant health protocol changes.

The concept of Viking Explorers seems to be liked by real cruisers wanting to cross the social way, in a smaller group, as they call themselves "The Friendly Family" and the organizers are looking already into the 6th edition with already 18 confirmed entries and many on the preliminary list.

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