2012 ARC Start Delayed
At the Saturday morning skippers’ briefing in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, with over 500 participants in attendance, ARC managing director Andrew Bishop announced that the World Cruising Club is postponing the start of the ARC by 48 hours to wait out a low-pressure system that is forecast to bring high winds on the nose. This is the first time since 1989 the organization has decided to revise the start. Judging by the collective sigh of relief followed by applause, the ARC skippers were not disappointed.
“I can sense an air of relief and excitement,” Bishop announced from the podium at the Hotel Santa Catalina in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. “This was not an easy decision and we respect the choice of any skipper who decides to start at the original start time. Whilst all yachts may experience these kinds of conditions at some point across the ocean, we’re talking about hard winds on the nose with swell and rainfall past dusk. We’re not anxious to send cruisers into that.
Rather than departing Las Palmas for St. Lucia on Sunday, November 25, boats will now depart on Tuesday, November 27. All divisions will still have the option to start on Sunday, and the ARC will record two separate times for the two fleets. For larger sailboats with professional crew on board, some of whom are hoping to break ARC records, this system may actually be favorable. For cruisers hoping to enjoy the crossing and keep their crew and/or family happy, they are happy to wait out the storm.
Former Caribbean 1500 organizer Rick Palm is sailing on board the USA-flagged Saga 43 Kinship with skipper Tim Szabo. After hearing the news of the delay, Palm said, “Most people get a little seasick the first couple of days out, so it’s better to start on a high. That way, if and when you hit a nasty system, at least you’re in the swing of things.”
Accordingly to WCC weatherman Chris Tibbs, the low pressure system to the northwest of Gran Canaria is predicted to bring southerly winds of 25 knots or more, with 35 knots in the acceleration zone to the south of Gran Canaria. It will also bring a cold front and rain showers through on Sunday night, with 6-meter waves. While not unmanageable, Tibbs noted that the conditions are likely to be uncomfortable.
Following Tuesday’s start, boats will have until Thursday, December 20, at 1200 local time to clear into St. Lucia. To follow their progress along the way, visit worldcruising.com/arc.