WORLD ARC 2015-16
From a Fleet to a Family
by Sally Erdle
When the World ARC fleet that left St. Lucia on January 10th, 2015 arrived in Grenada in mid-March after 15 months of sailing around the globe, the participants had “tied a knot” in more ways than one. Although not yet crossing the event’s official circumnavigation finish line in St. Lucia, “Returning to the Caribbean feels like coming home,” said Swiss sailor Manfred Stoll on the Amel 64 Tulasi. And of bonding with the crews on the other boats that shared the experience, Julia Horner on the British Rival 38 Luna Quest said, “We’re now like a family.”
The multi-legged World ARC format allows boats to start and finish with different years’ fleets, allowing, for example, an extra year’s cruising in the Pacific before picking up with the following year’s fleet. This edition of the world-rounding rally contained 21 boats at maximum strength. A fleet of 15 departed from St. Lucia last year, with some stopping and others joining along the way. Ten boats that sailed the whole way around the world together in 2015-16 included A Plus 2, Allegro, Aretha, Ayama, Exody, GarliX, Hugur, Luna Quest, Makena and Wayward Wind. Chat Eau Bleu, Circe and Tulasi joined the fleet in Australia, and Starblazer joined in Fiji.
Most crews were couples, and Makena and Aretha had children aboard. (Casper on Aretha had previously raced around the world in the BT Challenge, and now was sailing an Oyster 53 with his wife, Nichola, and their children, Columbus, Bluebell and Willow — “a somewhat different sort of trip!”) Joked Julia, “These kids have 14 sets of grandparents.”
Said Luc Barthelet, who sailed with his wife, Sarah, and their two-year-old son Kai aboard the US-flagged Lagoon 620 Makena, “The best thing about the World ARC fleet is that it’s a village. Wherever you stop, the village reconstructs itself around you. That’s amazing. These are now our best friends, having spent that much time together and always being ready to help one another.”
The 14 boats that docked at Port Louis Marina in St. George’s as their penultimate World ARC stop, enjoyed a warm Spice Island welcome. Highlights of their return to the Caribbean were a Welcome Cocktail Party at the Grenada Yacht Club hosted by the Marine and Yachting Association of Grenada (MAYAG), with a greeting from Commodore Richard McIntyre and featuring drinks made with award-winning local Westerhall Rum; an island tour to Concord waterfall for a swim, historic Douglaston estate to see how spices are produced, and the mountain-top Grand Etang National Park; a talk on cruising the Grenadines given by Horizon Yacht Charters at Port Louis Marina’s chic YOLO Bar; and a gala poolside dinner and prizegiving (for the Brazil-to-Grenada leg of the circumnavigation) at Port Louis Marina, with prizes including Extra Old Westerhall Rum and vouchers from Island Water World.
At the Welcome Cocktail Party, Robin Swaisland, President of the MAYAG, congratulated the participants on their achievement and added, “We’d love to see you back in Grenada for more of what Grenada has to offer.” Peter Jennett, sailing with his wife Marian Borde on the Starlight 39 Exody, said that although planning to sail home to Scotland this summer, he’s investigated Grenada for future reference: “It’s an attractive place to leave a boat.”
Jean Metz, who sails with his wife, Christiane, on the Amel 54 A Plus 2, said that he had visited Grenada 15 or 20 years ago on a charter boat, but that St. George’s Lagoon wasn’t a place you much wanted to go back then. “St. George’s is now much improved,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to see that they made strong efforts; there is an enormous change. You now feel at home.”
When asked about the impact of the World ARC on Grenada, Robin Swaisland told Compass, “We are delighted to receive fleets from events such as World ARC, the RORC transatlantic race, the Oyster regatta — they provide the opportunity for Grenadians to see what the yachting industry is.”
James Pascall of Horizon Yacht Charters added, “World Cruising Club feeds a lot of boats into the Caribbean, some of which could enter the charter fleets or be put into management. The World ARC sailors will also spread the word about Grenada.”
Grenada’s Minister of Culture, Brenda Hood, speaking to the group at Port Louis Marina, spoke frankly: “We understand the economic benefits you bring to the country.” World ARC now has a start every year, and next year’s event is already fully booked, with Grenada firmly on the schedule.
And Danny Donelan, Assistant General Manager of Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina tells Compass, “Although compared to some events that come to the marina it’s not a huge fleet, the ARC brand adds value. And of course some will come back.”
After the World ARC 2015-16 final prizegiving in St. Lucia on April 9th, Manfred and Annelise on Tulasi plan to leave the boat at Rodney Bay Marina, fly back to Switzerland for the summer, and return to cruise the Caribbean again.
Meanwhile, “the ARC organization is very good” is often heard, and this group has bonded so tightly that, as one skipper said, “In St. Lucia people will be crying” at the prospect of splitting up. Therefore many World ARC 2015-16 participants reported plans to join other World Cruising Club events and/or to stick together after the event’s finish.
Three of the fleet — Exody, Ayama and Hugur — plan to sail this month in ARC USA from Tortola to the USA’s East Coast, then continue on together informally in their own “ARC-tic” to Scotland, Sweden and Iceland.
Mindy on the Hans Christian 43 Wayward Wind says that after the finish she and crewmembers from two other World ARC 2015-16 boats will board yet another World ARC 2015-16 boat to sail to San Francisco.
Luis and Manuela Adão, aboard their Trintella 45, Allegro, will return to Portugal with ARC Europe, starting in Tortola this month.
Jean and Christiane on A Plus 2 also plan to sail with ARC Europe. Jean stated that without joining World ARC, he would not have had the motivation to circumnavigate within a 15-month window.
Luc on Makena echoed that motivation: “We also decided on World ARC to have a schedule. If we didn’t have a set schedule, friends with busy lives wouldn’t have been able to plan to join us.”
But Luc added that now he, Sarah and little Kai, with World Arc under their belts, are going to sail around the world again on their own: “Now we’ll have more time to spend in the places we like.” They plan to be back in the San Blas islands, which was their second stop in World ARC 2015-16, by June 1st.
The World ARC 2015-16 finished in St. Lucia on April 9th; we’ll have the news in next month’s Compass.
Visit www.worldcruising.com/world_arc for more information on World ARC events.
Thanks to World Cruising Club, the Fisher and Shaw families and other friends and associates in Grenada for making the Compass's coverage of the World ARC 2015-16 arrival in Grenada so productive and enjoyable.
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