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Pantaenius 2022 - SAIL & POWER 1 LEADERBOARD ROW

ARC Portugal 2022 enjoys a perfect start

by World Cruising Club 13 Jun 15:53 UTC 12 June 2022
Bound for Bayona © World Cruising Club

Under sunny skies and a gentle breeze, fifteen yachts gathered in the Plymouth Sound on Sunday morning to begin ARC Portugal 2022, cruising south to Marina de Lagos.

The multi-stage rally has been running for over 25 years, bringing together a fleet of yachts to cross Biscay to Bayona and then cruise the Atlantic coast of Portugal, and conditions for Sunday's departure could not have been better to begin the month-long adventure.

For the 2022 edition, yachts gathered at Mayflower Marina in Plymouth, UK for a pre-departure programme, beginning on Thursday 9 June. The West Country berth-holder owned marina, has hosted the rally start since 1998, offering visitors a warm welcome as they prepared for the first leg of the rally. Attracting crews from the UK, Netherlands, and Australia, there was a great sense of eagerness to set sail, with their adventure several years in the planning.

"Finally, after two years of Covid delays, our ARC Portugal moment has arrived." said James Kenning of Regina 43, Arkyla "The yacht has been in Mayflower Marina since we splashed her in early April, and (almost) all works and snagging have been completed ready for the off - she is a boat with a mission!"

For some, the 550nm passage will be their first offshore experience, with double-handers Ade and Bev Leppard on Beneteau Oceanis 45 Falcon and Hidde & Eveline Haisma on Sirius 36DS Via Mio confessing to a mix of nervousness and excitement as start day loomed.

Gary O'grady on Westerly Konsort Katy, the smallest boat in the rally, agreed, "Certainly this is the longest I will have sailed non-stop so I am firmly in this category but deep down I can't wait to drop the lines and head south. This week has been a bit of a surprise for me but a very welcome one. I honestly didn't expect such friendliness and helpfulness from both participants and organisers. I am so glad I participated as sailing can be a bit elitist but I haven't felt this here one bit. This bodes well for the next month and I wonder is a month enough?"

Rally organisers World Cruising Club supported the fleet's preparations with reassuring safety checks running through equipment onboard and providing advice in the respective Rally and Skippers Briefings held before departure. Meteorologist Simon Rowell was on hand to deliver the forecast for the first leg to Bayona, with favourable winds from the north or northeast as they enter Biscay. Some flat spots will mean boats need to use their engines at times, which is allowable in this fun cruiser-style event and it should be a relaxed and easy sail for crews to find their sea legs.

On Sunday morning, it was an early start as final pre-departure checks were completed by skippers before making their way to the starting area. The clouds parted and the winds built slightly just before the start at 09:00 creating quite a sight for those onshore watching from Plymouth Hoe in the Devon sunshine. Four yachts tussled for first over the line and Blue Pearl a First 40.7, came out on top followed by Swan 47 Bolero and Via Mio, a Sirius 36DS. The progress of the fleet can be followed by friends and family with each boat fitted with a YB Tracking unit, displaying their positions on the online Fleet Viewer or YB Races app.

With fair winds forecast, the fleet are expected to have arrived by Friday for a welcome sangria at the Monte Real Club de Yates in Bayona. Over the weekend, there are organised tours and free time to explore before the prize-giving ceremony for Leg 1 is held on Sunday evening.

A further five yachts will join the rally in the Spanish port and Leg 2, to the Portuguese town of Povoa de Varzim, will set sail on Tuesday 21 June. Over the next three weeks, 2022 route features further stopovers in Figueira da Foz, Peniche, Oeiras and Sines, before reaching Marina de Lagos at the gateway of the Mediterranean - an ideal finishing point for a summer of cruising - and concludes with the final rally supper on 6 July.

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