Sailing circumnavigations are certainly adventurous but often undertaken for the solitary nature of passagemaking. That is why the World ARC seems like a paradox: around the world, in company. The result of the second WARC finishing this week in Port Louis, Grenada, however, marries the idea of distance cruising and camaraderie brilliantly.
I am here reporting for Sail magazine and am experiencing first hand this spirit of “safety in numbers” and shared experiences. “There really is a value in the ‘herding cats’ support we get from the organizers,” said Bob Daigle who completed the 36,000 nm trip with 24 legs that started January 6, 2010 in St. Lucia. “Also the social aspect is greater than I had expected. Showing up in far flung places and you already have buddies there.”
Managed for the second time by the World Cruising Club, Stops included French Polynesia, Australia, South Africa and the Panama Canal where the 19 starters began.
In my reporting for Sail I will not only be discovering the technical points of what boat systems worked and didn’t work but also the dynamics of family and friend cruising and the trend towards supported passagemaking. “People had assembled in St. Lucia to fulfill a dream,” said Paul Tetlow, the event manager. “We all learn a lot along the way.”
It has been bright sunshine with beautiful trade winds making the palms dance. Three Swiss mates, all in their 60s, were the 11th crew to finish the final 2,100 nm leg from Recife, Brazil, and Suzana from the World Cruising Club treated them to the traditional rum punch. And tomorrow, proof of the value of an event like this, the dismasted catamaran Basia will be arriving with the support of four ralliers who have shadowed her for the last week.
With one marriage already resulting in this year’s WARC, and another planned for next week, I really don’t know what to expect as the remainder of the fleet rolls in. But I do know everyone is having a great time. Not bad for 36,000 miles together.