Why do West Coast boats sail and race to Hawaii in the summer? Because the Pacific High establishes itself (usually) to create good and consistent off-the-wind sailing. Why do so many boats from Europe sail/rally/race from the Canary Islands to the Western Caribbean in November and December? Pretty much for the same reason — the Azores High establishes itself, providing good and consistent tradewind sailing along that 2,750 to 3,000-mile route. Plus, it gets cold as hell in the Med and Europe in the winter, and it’s warm across the Atlantic and in the Caribbean.
The event that made crossing the Atlantic in early winter popular is the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, and that’s still going strong. In fact, this year’s fleet of nearly 240 boats are still on the course, taking time out to rescue African refugees seeking economic opportunity in Spain’s Canary Islands, and rescuing the crew of a non-ARC boat from their disabled vessel. In addition, there are other events from Europe to the Caribbean, several of them primarily French or German.
Also going on right now is the first-ever Transatlantic Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup which, despite starting from the Canary Islands, was organized by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (the one founded by His Highness the Aga Khan) that is in Puerto Cervo, Sardinia – home to the Maxi World Cup and other world-class events. The Maxi Transatlantic is supported by the Real Club Nautico de Tenerife, from where it started on November 26th, and the Sint Maarten YC, where it will finish.
This year’s Maxi TransAtlantic fleet isn’t the biggest — just seven boats — but they are reportedly having a great time in the 15 to 20 knots of wind the crossing is known for. If our Italian translation skills serve us correctly, Norway’s Nariida, a Wally 105 owned by Morten Bergsen, took line honors early this morning. Bergson had gambled with a more northerly route than much of his competition and it paid off. Nariida finished roughly 300 miles ahead of the second place boat Sojana, a 115-ft Farr ketch owned by Brit Peter Harrison, which took a southerly route. You can track the boats’ progress at www.yccs.it.