Sailing aboard the yacht, NYCTEA, Oscar seems to be asking “Are we there yet?”Leg 2 of ARC Europe sets sail from Bermuda today, with Portugal as their final destination. The yachts left the BVI on May 4 after a week of preparation at Nanny Cay, in a joint start with the Atlantic Cup.

Despite a strange weather pattern at the start, which saw a light southwesterly blowing in the BVI, the boats enjoyed pleasant sailing conditions for the most part. However, the absence of wind at some points necessitated the use of the engines for long spells.

The boats began arriving in Bermuda last Thursday. Lone Star, the Amel 54’ was the first to arrive in Bermuda, followed by Soledonna, Traveling Light and Dreamcatcher. Ayama, Easy Rider and Lady Ann were next with the vast majority of the yachts arriving Thursday night.

With wind speed between 12-18kts from the Southeast berthing at the Dinghy Dock was a bit tricky but there was a fine anchorage inside the harbour where boats were able to drop the hook. Bermuda Radio kept a watchful eye on the arriving fleet. From their vantage point on Fort George Hill, Bermuda Radio tagged each boat approaching the island, sometimes from as far as 50 miles away, and kept close tabs on any vessel traffic around the area.

Customs clearance was the first order of business and despite the many rally yachts the process seemed expeditious enough. The rally yachts were given Bermuda customs forms in Tortola, therefore the process was surprisingly swift and smooth, with each yacht taking only about 15 minutes to complete the procedures.
Much of Saturday was spent refueling the yachts over at Pennos Wharf on the western side of St. Georges harbor. And after a windless start in Tortola and lots of engine hours at sea, the yachts needed it.

Eleven-year old ‘Rally Ollie’ of Mad Fish, helped to coordinate the refueling on Pennos while his younger brother ‘Rally Ethan’ sent the boats on their way one by one from the Dinghy Club. By 5pm, 26 boats had taken a total of 8,100 litres (2,140 gallons) of fuel from the shore-side tanker truck positioned at Pennos Wharf.

A “must have” for the journey ahead – adequate supply of fuel.
Saturday also witnessed the departure of the first of the Atlantic Cup yachts. Keep it Simple, winners overall of last year’s Caribbean 1500, was the first to depart followed about an hour later by Kia Orana. A thorough skipper’s briefing preceded the departure of the Atlantic Cup yachts headed west to the US East Coast. Steve Black, longtime solo ocean racing sailor, founder of the Caribbean 1500 and crew on Lone Star this year guest lectured on the Gulf Stream crossing, which will be a first for the crews on Tati and Oystermist. The remainder of the Atlantic Cup fleet left on Sunday.

The camaraderie that began prior to the start of Arc Europe and the Atlantic Cup at Nanny Cay continued in Bermuda with one of the highlights being a Pirate Party on Saturday evening at the St Georges Dinghy & Sports Club which was attended by crew dressed in full pirate regalia, receiving yet another complimentary Dark N’ Stormy on arrival.

On Sunday, the much anticipated prize-giving ceremony and fish fry was held at the Dinghy Club. World Cruising Club’s ocean sailing events are unique in that while there is a definite competitive element – which many crews take very seriously – the focus is more on camaraderie and the ‘spirit’ of offshore sailing with family and friends that it is on out-and-out racing. In that spirit, the first prizes were awarded not to the winners of each class, but to those who made a special impact on the team of Yellow Shirts.

Johanem received the prize for ‘Best Log’ sent in from at sea, for their consistent posting and dry wit that brought to life what it’s like to go ocean sailing. They set the standard on Leg 1, doing their part to inspire the thousands of people who read those same blogs online.

Peter von Danzig, the crew of young German’s taking their sailing club boat back across the Atlantic (the yacht had participated in the ARC last November with a different crew) took the ‘Pirate Prize’ for their enthusiasm at the Pirate Party and ended up taking away two bottles of Goslings for their efforts.

Ollie and Ethan aboard Mad Fish were recognized for their efforts helping in helping the Yellow Shirt staff during the refueling on Saturday and received the ‘Yellow Shirt Award’ for it. The brothers were ecstatic to receive their ARC Europe t-shirts. Craig Scott, skipper of Lone Star, added that Ollie had picked up his crew in the dinghy last night to bring them ashore, further cementing their deserving of the prize.

The final special prize was the award for ‘Spirit of the Rally’, which is given in recognition of the people or yachts who best embody the spirit of ocean sailing. This year it was basically a lifetime achievement award, for Ron Horton, recipient of a signed Atlantic Cup 2013 flag and bottle of Gosling’s Family Reserve ‘Old Rum,’ was sailing in his 20th rally since 2003, and continues his incredible support and enthusiasm for the events.

“I just want to say how much fun I have in these rallies,” Ron said with tears in his eyes as he accepted the award. “It’s really thanks to the incredible hard work of these Yellow Shirts that make this possible for all of us, and I want to recognize them too,” he continued. “Thank you so much!”

For the first time, both Atlantic Cup and ARC Europe yachts were sailing in the same fleet, upping the competition and making for a more exciting evening. Traveling Light took the Multihull Division on corrected time. The double-handed crew of Randall and Arisan were especially impressive, given that they were one of the first boats to cross the finish line in Bermuda. “You should have seen some of the speeds we were making on that cat!” Arisan commented.

In the Monohull Division, Futura took Class B, with Oystermist and Kia Orana rounding out the top three. In Class A, the competition was close, with only a few hours separating third and second places. In the end Soledonna edged out Nyctea for second place, despite their poor performance at the start line. “I timed it wrong!” griped skipper Bernard. “I really wanted to be competitive at the start, but I messed it up!” he joked. They made up the time at sea instead.

Lone Star took home the biggest honors in the competitive results, seizing Line Honors – and the traditional basket of Bermuda onions awarded by former commodore of the Dinghy Club Frank Virgintino – as well as 1st Place in Class A. Despite the windless first couple days at sea, Lone Star recorded 37 engine hours and flew their light-air sails quite often en route to their victory. It shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise, with rally vets Ron Horton, Craig Scott and Jim Underwood along as crew and Caribbean 1500 founder Steve Black rounding out the team.

The ARC Europe fleet is expected to reach their final destination, Portugal in early June. The boats in the Atlantic Cup are en route to the United States.

Participants in the ARC Europe and Atlantic Cup Cruising Rallies gather for a group shot in Bermuda before the start of the second leg of their respective journeys.