World ARC Begins

The 26-boat fleet in the 2012-13 World ARC set off from Rodney Bay, St. Lucia on Sunday on a 15-month circumnavigation. Not all of the entries will complete the 26,000-mile circuit, though, as a handful will be joining the fleet at their next stop in Panama’s San Blas Islands before transiting the Canal and heading for Oz — with stops at the Galapagos, Hiva Oa, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Niue, Vava’u, Fiji and Vanuatu along the way.

The flexibility of the event will allow even more boats to join in Darwin, Australia, while others say goodbye with half a circumnavigation under their keels. Wisely, the organizers have designed a course that will avoid pirate-infested portions of the Indian Ocean and should see the fleet arrive unaccosted in South Africa by Christmas. Then it’s off to Brazil for Carnival, returning to St. Lucia by April.

Having 25 years of experience organizing the extremely popular Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, as well as a handful of rally-style circumnavigations in the ’90s, the World Cruising Club successfully guided a similar number of boats in the ’10-11 running of the event. You can follow the fleet’s progress — or join at any point of the rally for somewhere around $20,000 — at www.worldcruising.com/worldarc2012/index.aspx.

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