SAIL senior editor Meredith Laitos reports from the start of the 2012 ARC in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, capturing the rally's participants, traditions and stories.
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Indian on Kinship
Much of the pre-rally days are spent planning and provisioning the boats for meals. You can’t survive off SPAM for three weeks at sea, so many boats get creative with their cooking. Here, Tim Szabo’s USA-flagged Saga 43, Kinship, displays the ingredients for their Indian-themed dinner.
Girls for Sail
Of the 230 skippers participating in the ARC, only nine are female. One also happens to be the youngest skipper in the fleet. Harriet Mason, age 22, is helming Diamonds are Forever for Girls for Sail, a predominately British sailboat that brings together women who want to improve their sailing skills. Here, Harriet and her first mate Penny Pariso talk to their crew about safety on board, reviewing procedures for flood, fire, MOB and abandon ship.
Accommodations vary greatly across the fleet, from small and modest cruisers to brand-new megayachts. Rivendell, a gorgeous USA-flagged Oyster 82, pulled out all the stops. On board, owner Peter Schafer and his crew will enjoy a working washer, dryer and dishwasher. Other creature comforts include a full-size refrigerator and freezer, more than one high-def large screen TV, an owner’s state room worthy of swooning, and enough space to comfortably sleep 12.
Nate on Inncredible
When INNcredible Sea Lodge, Brian Fitzpatrick’s Lagoon 450 out of Northern California, learned that the start had been delayed 48 hours, they took the opportunity to go for an impromptu sunset sail. After weeks in Las Palmas harbor, the crew was happy to get out into the breeze for a while. Here, crewmember Nate Rangel gets his winching muscles ready to cross the Atlantic.
This year’s ARC included nearly 50 children under the age of 16 and the ARC did plenty to engage them. In addition to the daily kids’ club at the local sailing club, they also had special kids’ activities, like this costume-making party on the afternoon before the all-ARC masked ball.
There’s plenty to be done on board in the days before the start of the ARC. Many crew take advantage of the marina facilities to give their boats one final and thorough freshwater scrub.
The ARC offers dozens of seminars to its participants, with topics ranging from health and safety to routing to provisioning and even touring St. Lucia upon arrival. On the Friday before the start, the seminars focus on safety demonstrations, including a poolside liferaft demonstration in which participants can watch a liferaft inflate and can practice boarding it from land and from sea, righting it if it’s flipped and keeping watch from the small head holes. Here, ARC staff simulate rough seas by splashing water on the liferaft practice crew.
Rescue at Sea
Gathering on the northern breakwater of Las Palmas, ARC participants also get the chance to see a helicopter rescue in action. The ARC announcer explains how all control belongs to the helicopter pilot, then demonstrates a rescue by lowering someone to the stranded boat and sending a stretcher back up, then lowering someone into the water, who attaches an overboard sailor to their harness and then re-enters the helicopter as a pair.
Rigging on Matilda
Sailing experience on many boats varies from professional to novice. On the USA-flagged Trintella 47, Matilda, owner Paul Herzof lives aboard with his wife Janet. He spent one morning reviewing rigging for his crew. Crewmember Wendell races in Wisconsin, Robin has sailed with his uncle Paul a handful of times through the years and Paul’s brother, Mark, said, “I always wanted to cross the Atlantic; I just thought it would be on the Queen Elizabeth.”