The Amel 54 ketch Lone Star, one of the American-flagged yachts in this years ARC, crossed the finish line early this morning.
"[The crossing] was actually great until the last twenty-four hours," remarked Skipper Craig Scott. "We motored across with our sails furled."
Only a day and a half earlier, the wind was fresh near St. Lucia, making for an exciting finish for the Racing Division yacht Scarlet Oyster (GBR) But even then, the wind was already fading.
"Yesterday was one of the most stressful days sailing I can remember, with the wind threatening to switch off entirely" said skipper Ross Applebey. "But the final sail past the top of St. Lucia into the finish was the icing on the cake as we averaged 9 knots on a tight kite reach." Ross and his team had a fantastic crossing on the 24 year old Oyster Lightwave - really pushing the boat. Some of the sails were original; older than some of the crew!
Scarlet Oyster had perhaps the last of the good sailing across the finish line for a while. Since their arrival on Sunday, the wind really has switched off, as Ross feared it would, and boats are now drifting across the line. Unless, of course, they have a Plan B.
"I have a secret weapon," allowed Craig of Lone Star. "I don't load on extra fuel and not use it!"
Despite the wind hole near the finish line, the crossing was a quick one for Lone Star, at just under 16 days.
For crewmember Ron Horton, a veteran rally sailor, the tradewind Atlantic crossing was a record.
"This is my second crossing," Ron said. His first, a 5,000 mile marathon passage from the UK to the Caribbean, took over a month. "This was by far the fastest one!" Ron exclaimed, obviously pleased with the boat, the event and the rest of his cremates, including Drew Verret and Ed Robeau.
Ron has sailed in most of the rallies that take place in the North Atlantic, most recently in last spring's Atlantic Cup, the first of World Cruising Club's American events. (During the 2011 Atlantic Cup, Ron, always cheerful, was officially appointed 'Enthusiasm Coordinator' by the ARC team, during the several days delay when the fleet was stuck in Bermuda. His 'Let's go!', Alright!' and 'You can do it!' cheers during a couple impromptu quiz nights were legendary.)
Lone Star's owner, Craig is also a rally veteran, having completed the Caribbean 1500 in his last boat in 2006. "The Caribbean 1500 was our first really long offshore thing. We got [the Amel] three years later, and said 'when we come back across, we'll do another rally.' During that time frame, the ARC and the Caribbean 1500 came together, which was kind of neat."
Meanwhile the ARC Saint Lucia programme officially gets under way tomorrow evening, with a welcome cocktail on the beach scheduled for 1900. , ARC yachts continue to arrive steadily into St. Lucia, despite the lack of wind. Forty-five boats have officially taken the finish, with eight more due to arrive throughout the day today, and a full twenty-one more tomorrow. In comparison, last year's ARC, one of the slowest ever, saw only two boats arrive in St. Lucia before the sixteen-day mark, one of which was the motor yacht Wind Horse, which steamed across the Atlantic in a little over ten days. Berenice (ITA), the big Swan, was the only sailing boat to finish in under sixteen days.