For the first time in its 27-year history, World Cruising Club (WCC) has expanded its storied Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) by adding a new, parallel route: the ARC+. Like the ARC, the ARC+ starts in the Las Palmas, Gran Canaria in late November and ends in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, but it includes an additional stopover in the Cape Verde Islands.
“The inspiration behind creating the ARC+ was two-fold,” says WCC managing director Andrew Bishop. “We wanted to provide repeat ARC guests with an alternative route to keep their sailing interesting, and we wanted to accommodate more of the boats on our wait list.” Because of marina size restrictions in Las Palmas, the ARC can only accept 245 entries; there were 315 on the list, and 60 percent were repeats. With two departure times from Las Palmas, the ARC+ allowed WCC to accommodate dozens more.
Forty-two boats and nearly 200 sailors participated in the inaugural ARC+, leaving Gran Canaria two weeks early and arriving in St. Lucia approximately one week before the greater ARC fleet. The timing was planned so that departure and welcome parties for both fleets would overlap, allowing the two fleets to swap stories about their slightly different cruising experiences. (The ARC+ was smooth sailing, while the ARC was plagued with over a week of nasty weather right out of Las Palmas.)
One of the WCC’s traditions is partnering with local charities wherever the rally goes, and the Cape Verdes were no different. The fleet coupled with SOS, a charity that reaches out to single mothers to teach them skills to make them marketable and self-sufficient, thus allowing them to support their children at home. At the ARC+ village in Mindelo, Cape Verdes, the children associated with SOS performed a local dance while their mothers sold handmade momentums and cooked a welcome meal for the fleet.
Meanwhile, in St. Lucia, the fleet worked, once again, with the Forestry Department to plant trees in the ARC Forest, a project that reintroduces native trees to combat illegal banana plantations on the island. This year, 20 children from local schools joined with 20 participants from the ARC to plant 600 trees in 2 hours.