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ARC Europe 2024 sails the Atlantic to Europe

by World Cruising Club 22 May 23:22 UTC 22 May 2024
ARC Europe 2024 © World Cruising Club

32 boats are sailing in the 24th edition of ARC Europe, World Cruising Club's west-to-east transatlantic rally from the Caribbean or the US, heading to Europe via Bermuda and the Azores.

The fleet departed St George's, Bermuda on 22 May on the 1800NM voyage to Horta on the island of Faial in the Azores. From Horta the fleet will cruise the Azores before departing Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel on 14 June, heading to the final prize-giving in Marina de Lagos in Southern Portugal.

The rally officially began on 11 May with 17 boats sailing from Sint Maarten to Bermuda, including many old friends from the ARC transatlantic and World ARC circumnavigation rallies. 15 more boats joined the rally in Bermuda, seven of which sailed with rally support from various US ports.

Meet the fleet

2024 is the largest fleet for many years, with 32 boats in total, up from 30 boats last year and 26 in 2022. The fleet size in ARC Europe is kept deliberately modest to suit the smaller harbours in the Azores. The rally is a mix of sailing legs, tours and activities ashore and a cruise through the archipelago of the Azores. The yachts will cover over 3,500NM between Sint Maarten and Portugal, or almost 4,000NM for those heading to the UK.

Just under one third of the fleet are catamarans, reflecting the continuing growth of multihulls for ocean sailing. The fleet varies in size from the 11.3m (36') Hallberg Rassy 36 Windrush (USA) to 17.4m (56') Oyster 56 Lilli Mae (GBR). This is a diverse fleet, with boats from all the main production and semi-custom builders. Lagoon, Beneteau and Hallberg Rassy each have three boats in the rally.

Over the years, ARC Europe has become more popular with North American sailors wanting to sail an 'Atlantic circuit'. For the first time, US citizens are the largest crew nationality on the rally, at 37% of the 141-strong crew list. There are 9 boats flying the Stars and Stripes, including half of the catamarans.

Sailors and sea dogs

The 141 crew registered for the rally hail from 14 different countries, with Americans being the largest contingent, followed by the UK, Germany, Italy and South Africa. There are four skippers aged 70 or over, with Stephen Lees of Amel Super Maramu Sequel (USA) holding the accolade for the oldest skipper in the fleet at 72 years young. There's plenty of experience on Rival 36 Topaz Rival (GBR) as skipper Martin Whitfield is 71 and has multiple Atlantic crossings to his name. Alongside his human crew, Martin is sailing with sea dog Buzz, who will be making his third transatlantic crossing. Buzz is one of four canines crossing the Atlantic with the rally.

For many sailors, ARC Europe is the ideal way to 'go home' after a season in the Caribbean, and some are celebrating an even greater achievement. Spanish sailors Oscar Alvarez and Maria Provecho onboard Ovni 445 Lonestar (ESP) and Italians Alberto Rizzotti and Cristina Mugnaini from Azuree 46 Enalia (ITA) circumnavigated with World ARC 2023, while Alan Broadbridge on Island Packet 485 Island Wanderer (GBR) is returning from a round-the-adventure which started with World ARC 2020. In total, 70% of the fleet have sailed in another World Cruising Club rally.

Rally sailing

The structure of ARC Europe provides some flexibility with boats able to start in Bermuda or Sint Maarten and finish in Portugal or Northern Europe. Boats joining the rally from the United States have the benefit of a virtual pre-departure safety equipment inspection and full position tracking, while making their own decision about departure port and date.

All boats receive an in-person safety equipment inspection in their first formal rally port - either Sint Maarten or Bermuda. In addition, the yachts are all fitted with a YB Iridium tracker, with positions published on the rally website Fleet Viewer and on the free YB Races app.

Boats heading to the UK and Scandinavia can take advantage of continuing support with tracking and weather forecasting from the Azores to their destination.

In each rally port there are a range of social activities and tours ashore, with ample time for independent exploration.

For more information visit event page.

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