The Great 2022 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers Visualised on MarineTraffic

The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) is the world's largest ocean sailing event. Every November since 1986, more than 200 yachts sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and charter 2700 nautical miles of Atlantic Ocean to Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia

The event boasts its inclusiveness. Sailing families, enthusiastic racers, couples, and pleasure ships of all sizes all partake in the Transatlantic voyage.

Being a sailing event, ARC is entirely reliant on the tradewinds – winds that blow west consistently just north and south of the equator. Using the tradewinds enables the yachts to transit the Atlantic from east to west.

According to a meteorologist writing for Yachting World, the middle of November is a good time to cross the Atlantic from the Canary Islands (just off the coast of Africa), “as such a departure ensures that landfall in one of the Caribbean Islands is made in early December at the beginning of the safe winter season.”

A flotilla of yachts (vessels coloured purple) making the east-west crossing is easily spotted on the MarineTraffic Live Map.

ARC participants visualised on the MarineTaffic Live Map
ARC participants visualised on the MarineTaffic Live Map

While it is technically a race, the ARC also emphasises relaxed competition. Prizes are awarded not just for speed but for other achievements ranging from good seamanship, great sailing, and rally spirit. Participants can receive awards for having the best-looking ship, keeping blogs and photographs and even for the most fish caught. Every vessel involved receives a memento of their rally.

The point of the rally is to foster companionship and fun at sea. All that is required is a seaworthy boat, but limits on vessel length are set. ARC authorities expect participants to have completed an offshore passage the year before the rally.

Ships involved are also required to be able to send and receive emails at sea, either with a satellite telephone or with an SSB radio and Pactor modem. Weather forecasts, vessel positions and essential fleet information are sent to those involved by email.

Users of MarineTraffic can follow the rally on the Live Map with pleasure vessels and yachts marked by purple. For one month every year, a string of purple materialises across the Atlantic, linking Southern Europe to the Caribbean.

Considering the massive variation and ability of sailors and ships involved, handicaps are given to ensure fair competition.

The morning of 14 December saw about 118 vessels finish the trip in Saint Lucia. Unfortunately, most of the remaining ARC yachts experienced technical problems or had to stop en route, adding extra days to their journey.

As per ARC tradition, the initial exhilaration of completion is followed by cleaning and repairs. Then passage stories are shared among participants at the bars, restaurants and sights of St. Lucia.

The rally was founded by Jimmy Cornell and is now organised by the World Cruising Club, which is also currently responsible for the World ARC.

Cruising World Magazine organised the first event under the name of the Atlantic Race for Cruisers. Cornell’s vision was to create an amateur event that would add an element of triumph to the voyage across the Atlantic and strengthen feelings of solidarity between cruising sailors. It also served to improve the safety and confidence of sailors with large numbers of yachts taking part simultaneously.

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Jason Dunn
Senior Account Executive at London-based public relations agency, Navigate PR