Organising and inspection

Valerio has been rushing around picking up the crew from the airport ,  loading the boat with water , one of several trips to Carrefour which is inundated these days -you never seem to escape before nightfall!. Tommorrow the cooking begins : homemade meat sauce, pesto etc ,lasagnas to be carefully prepared so they can be whipped out of the freezer, other sauces cooked and ready before doing the final shop Saturday for all the fresh food.  The ARC organisers have been round to inspect all the safety equipment and Milanto herself  which is an amazing effort wondering they have to check over 200 yachts but is an important part of the Rally's success.

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Today is is RAINING! However the weather has been checked and in theory Sunday should be fine.

Arc News: "We’re now on countdown to Sunday’s start and everyone is busy with final checks and boat preparations, but it’s also week two of the comprehensive ARC seminar programme; an invaluable resource on offer to ARC participants. It’s what makes the ARC unique. Being part of the big ARC sailing community and a large group, brings with it benefits such as discounts, information and on-tap advice from lecturers and the ARC Team before the start.

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It was a packed house at the Santa Catalina Hotel for Jerry ‘The Rigger’ Henwood’s seminar that kicked off the programme today. Jerry, who has sailed all his life, runs his own rigging business from his workshop in Gosport, England and is just one of several highly experienced ARC lecturers who come out each year to offer practical support and useful tips. Mostly seen up the mast of a boat in the marina checking the rigging, his lecture includes common problems encountered with the rig, one of the most important parts of the boat.

Chris Tibbs who has sailed around 250,000 miles and is a professional yacht skipper who has raced round the world three times. He is a top meteorologist and now runs a yacht routing and consultancy company. His talks today included Management of Emergencies at sea and Tips for Downwind Sailing. There’s still time for participants to book in for one of his popular hands-on sessions on setting up and using a sextant. 

“The seminars have grown over the years and have become a bigger and important part of the rally,” says Chris. “Even if people haven’t got a huge amount of experience and are doing this for the first time, or even second, there’s always something to learn from others. I’ve done 20 or so Atlantic crossings, but over the years I’ve seen plenty of things that could potentially become a problem at sea, so if I can stop even one of these things happening, and we can help one person with some of the tips from today, then it’s worthwhile. People are like sponges and if we can pass on our experiences and knowledge as ARC lecturers, then that’s great.”

Many of the 'yellowshirts' team have been with the rally from the beginning and Clare Pengelly has been involved with World Cruising Club for nearly a decade, both as staff and as a participant in the events. A passionate sailor, Clare has crossed the Atlantic with the ARC three times, and sailed on several ocean stages of World ARC. Clare has a near-obsession with finding out about the perfect way to provision a boat and will be enlightening participants at this afternoon’s lecture on the subject.

Some participants began their ARC education long before reaching Las Palmas, 'We came to the Ocean Cruising Seminar in March in Guildford and that was excellent,” says Greg, one of the crew members on the Lagoon 450, Ripples II. “I have found the seminars here really, really good too. I am in instructor myself but there is always something more to learn and something you have not thought about. The seminar programme is an important part of the ARC and even though I am experienced, there’s so many things to think about that you can’t possibly have everything in your head. I have listened to the talks this morning and have made notes to pass on to the rest of the crew.”

After listening to Chris Tibbs’ lecture the two skippers on Amel 54, A Plus 2, Jean Metz and Carl Holme summed up the ethos behind the ARC seminar programme: “We are both skippers with more than 30 years experience and there’s always something to learn. It’s all the checking and preparation before the start and we know the points, but it reminds you of the key things and an important and useful part of the event.”

 Sorting out and storing everything so you remember where you put it......

Sorting out and storing everything so you remember where you put it......

On the 17th hundreds of ARC participants took part in the Official Opening Ceremony for ARC 2014. Flag bearers from representing Gran Canaria, Spain, Saint Lucia, the European Union and the 22 national flags of the ARC boats paraded behind the Banda Gran Canaria, with the Banda H Mencey beating a salsa rhythm at the back. The grand parade had a real festival atmosphere as participants young and old waved flags and cheered.

A warm welcome to the ARC sailors was made by Mimi Gonzalez from the Concejal del Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas (City Hall of Las Palmas) and Sr Melchor Camon, of the Patronato de Turismo de Gran Canaria. John Emmanuel, Public Relations Manager for the Saint Lucia Tourist Board told participants that they can expect a warm welcome on arrival in the Caribbean and wished them a safe crossing. 
Andrew Bishop, Managing Director of World Cruising Club declared ARC 2014 officially "open" and the country flags were proudly hoisted on flagpoles around the marina as the band struck up once again and fireworks were launched in celebration of the opening of the 29th ARC.

The fiesta atmosphere continued with ARC participants and local people taking part in Don Pedro’s Dinghy Race around the marina. Coming out of retirement to host the race, Don Pedro is a long time supporter of the ARC and used to manage the fuel dock in the Marina. The race across the marina encourages crews, dressed in a variety of amusing costumes, to use any tactics they like to outwit their opponents. 

Pedro Perez Abrante (Don Pedro) was the driving force behind the efforts to turn what was once a dirty fishing harbour into a modern marina. He could solve most problems and his advice was sought by many cruisers experiencing difficulties before their Atlantic crossing. Not only did he provide fuel & gas refills, but he also offered a laundry service, mini-market, sourced local mechanics and specialists for all types of repairs.

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