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The 6th edition of the Viking Explorers arrive in Grenada

by Oliver Solanas 10 Feb 09:32 UTC
Viking Explorers arrive in Grenada - SY iSea from Denmark © Tok'ra Neocell

After months of preparations the Viking Explorers Rally in its 6th edition finally arrived at Port Louis Marina in Grenada.

23 boats set sail on the 6th of January from the Canary Islands after the usual seminars, parties and briefings, on what was going to be a much longer journey than expected.

23 boats and 88 crew members from all over the world, from Europeans to Australians, from the USA, Mexico and even New Zealand, in total 19 countries were represented at this international rally for the 6th consecutive year.

The weather had been playing its game on the Atlantic and participants departed just as the Azores High established again, giving the fleet a good start within the standard Tradewinds. But not for very long...

The fleet arrived at the Cape Verde islands after approximately 850 miles and 6 days later, where they were greeted by the Marina Mindelo and Viking Explorer's staff. There they could check their boats, do some adjustments and repairs and after the Welcome Party hosted by Marina Mindelo, the fleet departed again for the big jump on the 17th of January.

Approximately 2100 miles to Grenada, this was going to be a different crossing, as a few days later the fleet got informed by the Fleet Tracking Control Team about some adverse weather. Indeed, two big high pressure systems would push a low pressure system down to lower latitudes breaking the Tradewinds and leaving most of the fleet without wind, for many days. Some chose to take a more southern route, which ended up to be the best decision to avoid the "big blue spot" with no wind. But most of the boats experienced some days of no wind and the others took the chance to go for a swim in the middle of the Atlantic.

What was impressive and new was the opportunity to be able to chat, and even have video conferences, with boats in the middle of the Atlantic! 9 boats this year used Starlink, something that impressed the rally organizers.

By the end of January the first boats started to arrive at Port Louis Marina in Grenada. SY iSea from Denmark, a J46 with captain Klaus Bonde, his wife Gitte and crew Martin and Antoine arrived on Sunday the 29th of January after being 14 days out at sea and the rest of the boats would follow over the next few days. SY ZigZag arrived on the 6th of February just a few hours before the Welcome Ceremony. A Bowman 45 with captain John O'Connor from the United Kingdom and his crew Gordon,Stephen and Mark were escorted by the marina rib as they previously communicated to the rally organizers an engine failure but thankfully were able to enter the marina without incidence.

Boats were greeted by the Grenada Tourism Authority, Marina Manager and Rally staff as they arrived, and enjoyed a well deserved rum punch and were gifted with an extraordinary welcome basket with local products.

The participants could enjoy a few days of activities, local markets and cocktails, beach parties, as well as visits to a chandlery and to a hurricane safe boatyard, all these hosted by local sponsors.

The Welcome Ceremony hosted by the True Blue Bay Resort became the most emotional moment, where Nikoyan Roberts, Manager for the nautical development and marketing and sales department of the Grenada Tourism Authority and Zara Tremlett, Camper&Nicholson Port Louis Marina manager, welcomed the sailors to Grenada. After an emotional speech by Oliver Solanas Heinrichs, Managing Director of the Viking Explorers Rally, participants were invited on stage to get their presents and certificates and had a chance to say a few words to their fellow cruisers.

The Viking Explorers is not a race yet every year the rally hosts a fun prize presenting awards such as 'Spirit of the Viking Explorers'.

Other prizes presented were for, the youngest skipper - Lars de Bover from Belgium, captain of SY Oscargot2, a Bavaria 42; the oldest skipper - Colin Stepples from New Zealand, captain of SY Trim, a Lagoon 42. The smallest boat award went to Paul Little from the UK, captain of SY Moonshadow, a Sigma 362 and the biggest boat award was for Peter Tiner from Sweden, captain of SY Maiken, an Amel 54. The award for the newest boat went to Glenn Hawkins from Norway, captain of SY Lazy Cat, a Fountaine Pajot Astrea 42 and the oldest boat awarded was SY Ayla, a Maxi 120, with captain Roberth Granath from Sweden.

The award "Spirit of the Viking Explorers" went to Klaus Bonde from Denmark, captain of SY iSea, a well deserved award. Klaus showed a true spirit of camaraderie, sending emails to the rally organizers during the crossing, giving instructions as to help others with engine problems and being always present at the arrivals of his fellow cruisers, in the true ethos of the rally.

The party went on with a fine selection of Rum tasting, offered by the Grenada Distillery and participants could also taste the exceptional Grenadian Chocolate while the Steel Pan Band " New Dimensions" performed in the background. Participants enjoyed a great evening in a truly Caribbean style and the event was officially closed.

The Viking Explorers has gained enormous popularity within the sailing community due to the friendly and tight camaraderie in a small exclusive fleet limited to 25 boats. An alternative way to cross the Atlantic with a unique format. The rally focuses on safety, customer service and support and to create a family atmosphere within the fleet. It is known as "The Friendly Rally".

The rally has been running since 2018 and is sponsored by the Grenada Tourism Authority, Camper and Nicholson Port Louis Marina and the Grenada Distillery, among many other sponsors.

The Viking Explorers 2023 is now officially closed and bookings for the Viking Explorers 2024 are filling in fast.

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