Over 230 boats and 1,300 people, including 40 children aged under 16, will take part in the 27th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, which sets sail on November 25 from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, heading 2700NM across the Atlantic to Saint Lucia.
Boats are sailing under the flags of 25 nations, and ARC crew aged from four months to over 80 years come from 32 different countries.
The 'average' ARC 2012 boat was built in 2001 (11 years old) is 15.12m long (49'7"), and is sailing with five crew. 85 different boat brands/builders are represented in the fleet this year, making it one of the most diverse ARC fleets for some time.
The smallest boats are Oliver Kinchin's Rival 32 Troskala (GBR) at 9.70m, Marius Larsen's Hanse 325 Quickie (NOR) at 9.75m and Victor Anishchenko's Delphia 33 Julia from Russia.
The largest ARC 2012 boat is the 28m Bristolian (GBR) ex-Mari Cha II, designed by Frers and built by CNB. Swan 80 Berenice (ITA) is slightly longer than the three Oyster 82s Sundowner of Tortola (USA), Rivendell (USA) and Raven (GBR) all at 25m.
Almost 20 per cent of the fleet are less than 24 months old - 28 boats built in 2012 and 16 in 2011. Of the 2012 boats, seven are Lagoon catamarans, four are Oysters and three are from Bénéteau.
The oldest boats, Peregrine (GBR) and Peter von Seestermuhe (GER), were both launched in 1936, making them 76 years old.
Cruising and Racing
The majority of ARC boats are family cruisers, sailed by family and friends on the adventure of a lifetime. Multihulls are again popular, with 21 booked for the crossing. Half of the catamarans are built by Lagoon.
Around 30 boats sail in the RORC Racing Division under IRC handicap. Some of these crews will be aiming to beat the ARC crossing record, set in 2006 at just over 11 days. Fast boats to watch include Andreas Hanakamp's Vaquita (AUT), Swan 80 Berenice (ITA), JP52 The Kid (FRA) and Pogo 50 Surfing Petrel (FRA).
View the full ARC entry list at World Cruising.
Start from Gran Canaria
Las Palmas has been the start port for the ARC since the very first edition of the rally in 1986. Around one third of the boats are already in the marina, with the remainder arriving over the next two weeks.
Official activities begin on 12 November when the ARC Information Centre opens for registration. The first social event is the Rolnautic Welcome Fiesta on Tuesday 13; and from then until the start there are parties, seminars and all kinds of activities for ARC sailors young and old.
Start day is Sunday 25 November, and thousands of spectators will line the city shore to watch the boats start. The first start gun will sound at 1230 for the Multihulls, followed by the RORC Racing Divisions at 1245 and the Cruising Divisions at 1300.
Landfall in Saint Lucia
ARC boats will make landfall in IGY Rodney Bay Marina, Saint Lucia after 2700NM of sailing. This distance will take the fastest boats around 12 days, and the family cruisers 18 to 21 days.
Every boat will be welcomed on arrival (day or night!) with a basket of local fruit, chilled beers and rum punches. This warm Saint Lucian welcome is just the start of the festivities ashore, with the whole community of Gros Islet getting involved with the visiting sailors. The ARC brings significant economic and tourism dollars to Saint Lucia every December, and in return provides the perfect Caribbean destination.
The fun starts in Saint Lucia on the day the boats set-off from Gran Canaria with the annual ARC Flotilla. Fifty boats from the local community and visiting cruisers will sail from the capital Castries to Rodney Bay. The final festivity of ARC 2012 is the awards ceremony on 21 December, which rewards the fastest boats and special categories like 'Spirit of the ARC'.