The spectacular volcanic island of Lanzarote makes an impressive backdrop for the RORC Transatlantic Race and Marina Lanzarote will once again host the start of the Atlantic-bound fleet © RORC/James Mitchell
Start Leg 1 - RORC Transatlantic Race
Marina Lanzarote, Canary Islands to Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina, Grenada
Setting off on an epic Atlantic race on Saturday 25 November from Marina Lanzarote, the 4th edition of the RORC Transatlantic Race is the lengthiest race in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's offshore calendar. This year the westbound race, hosted by Calero Marinas forms the first leg of the Atlantic Anniversary Regatta (AAR) held in celebration of Hamburg-based Norddeutscher Regatta Verein's (NRV) 150th anniversary in 2018 and the 50th year for the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda (YCCS).
The joint jubilee celebration, in partnership with YCCS, originally had a scheduled finish in their British Virgin Islands base, but this has now proved impossible due to the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in the region.
"It is extremely sad news that the recent natural disasters have decimated the Virgin Islands making it unviable to take the race to YCCS on Virgin Gorda, BVIs," explains RORC CEO, Eddie Warden Owen. "The RORC Committee in consultation with the YCCS and NRV have therefore decided to finish the race in Grenada and we look forward to returning to Camper and Nicholsons Port Louis Marina who have warmly welcomed competitors and our race team for the past three events."
For those competing in the RORC Caribbean 600 - celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2018 - the first leg of the AAR acts as a challenging annual feeder race, as well as a great way to race across the Atlantic in company to take part in the Caribbean winter circuit. The Caribbean Sailing Association accentuates the importance of sailors continuing with plans to bring boats to race in the Caribbean regattas this season as it is the best way to help rebuild tourism and the lives of those affected.
The beautiful and well run Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina in Grenada is the destination for yachts competing in the westbound leg of the Atlantic Anniversary Regatta.
Competitors can expect coral blue water, lush vegetation and a wonderful warm Caribbean welcome for every boat © C&N Marinas
Start from Marina Lanzarote's city hub
Meanwhile, the team at Marina Lanzarote are gearing up for a fleet of up to 25 boats; the number boosted by several German entries competing in the AAR, the first regatta series to cross the Atlantic Ocean twice, in both directions.
José Juan Calero, Calero Marinas Managing Director is looking forward to welcoming the race again this year:
"We are thrilled to be hosting such an international and celebratory event. It is a great pleasure to work alongside the Royal Ocean Racing Club and to be joined this time by the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein and Yacht Club Costa Smeralda for the Atlantic Anniversary Regatta, each marking such prestigious trajectories in yacht racing. It makes us feel extremely proud of what Lanzarote and Calero Marinas, together with our new shipyard can offer as a yachting destination to meet the calibre of such an exciting fleet. We are grateful as ever to the Canarian and Lanzarote governments, the Arrecife council and the Real Club Náutico de Arrecife for their support in these events and look forward to a spectacular start on 25th November." Also commenting on the tragic circumstances in the BVIs, José Juan Calero continues: "The news of the devastating impact of the three hurricanes in the Caribbean has had a profound effect here amongst the island communities. Our hearts go out to those struggling to rebuild their homes and lives in the wake of such a catastrophic occurrence."
Preparing for the crossing
Several boats have already made use of the excellent facilities at the busy Calero Marina set in the heart of the volcanic island's capital city, Arrecife. These include RORC Vice Commodore, Steven Anderson who will return to Lanzarote before the start of the race as its newly appointed Commodore.
"We brought Gem (Gemervescence) to Marina Lanzarote early in preparation for the RORC Transatlantic Race," says Anderson. "We have had a very warm welcome from the marina and are only sorry that we have to head home and back to the office! We are looking forward to coming back before the start in November to prepare for the race and to have some work completed in the Calero boatyard."
A serious contender for the race is Outsider owned by Tilmar Hansen, successful Admiral's Cup campaigner and Transatlantic Race 2015 competitor. The boat has also arrived in Lanzarote in good time to prepare for the 2,995nm race and has already been lifted out of the water by the hoist in Marina Lanzarote's shipyard before a spell on the hard where boat captain, Jan Dabelstein is preparing the boat for the race.
Like many of the boats in this year's special edition, the NRV member's New Zealand designed and built Elliott 52 Ss will complete the Atlantic circuit, racing eastbound in leg 2 of the AAR from Bermuda, bound for the finish in his Hamburg-based club, NRV on 7th July 2018.
L to R: Steven & Jane Anderson meet the boat captain of Outsider, owned by NRV member Tilmar Hansen who is a fellow race competitor. The early race arrivals were shown round the marina by Managing Director, José Juan Calero © Pilar Hernández/Calero Marinas
Past winners return
Along with an international fleet from Holland, Germany, Belgium, Canada, USA and Great Britain, two previous winners of the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy will be back to defend their title in this special edition of the race. They include 2015 winner, the French Finot 100 Nomad IV and last year's Dutch winner, Aragon. Chris Stanmore-Major's Canadian entry, Challenger and from Belgium, Gerald Bibot's Catamaran Ts42 Zed 6 will also be making their way to the Canary Islands for the start.
Owners of Aragon the Dutch Marten 72, Arco Van Nieuwland and Andries Verder have chartered the boat this time round, having raced last year with family and friends, but their core team skippered by Nicholas Lecarpentier with Wouter Roos and Rogier Van Overveld will be hoping to repeat their success:
"Competing in the RORC Transatlantic Race has been an amazing experience. We found that all the elements such as preparation; excellent boat; great team; great friendship and good sailing all combined to lead our team to a great result. This was all supported by fantastic organization by the RORC and an amazing Caribbean welcome from the Port Louis marina team when we reached Grenada," says Arco Van Nieuwland on behalf of the whole team who were declared overall and IRC Zero winners in 2016.
The entry list is still open for competitors interested in taking part in the RORC Transatlantic Race, run in association with the International Maxi Association, and is the first leg of the commemorative Atlantic Anniversary Regatta starting on 25th November 2017 from Lanzarote to Grenada.
The latest list of entries can be found at: http://rorctransatlantic.rorc.org/entries/entries-expressions-of-interest.html