Have you always wanted to experience a transatlantic crossing? Even more so when this event is so brilliantly organized by the World Cruising Club! Here, Captain Marijke and Mark and their Lagoon 52 SporTop of 2017 Great Circle recount their story for us. They won third place on the podium in the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) in 2019, and host the famous YouTube “Cat Greatcircle” channel.
Discover Marijke and Mark’s incredible crossing between Las Palmas and St Lucia.
The crew consisted of 4 people: Marc, my partner, Marijke (myself), Sander and Nicolette.
We met Sander and Nicolette when we were sailing in Greece and Croatia. Having already crossed the Atlantic, Sander brought us a lot from a technical point of view. Nicolette is a genuine chef and that was a real treat for us during the whole crossing.
As we needed our hours of sleep to maintain a relaxed atmosphere on board, four of us wasn’t too many to divide up the watches evenly.
Preparation is the most important element before setting sail. We often hear that it’s a complicated step, but when you’re used to boating, it’s not so difficult to get yourself ready.
So as not to skip anything during our transatlantic passage, we prepared 8 or 10 meals, stocked fruit and vegetables for our daily smoothies, and filled two freezers to the brim with food. Several weeks after we arrived, the freezers were still well-stocked… We don’t anticipate meals caught during the crossing!
Before being allowed to participate in the race, the ARC organizers asked us to fill out a checklist. One of the items on this list was the ability to send and receive emails. In addition to the safety aspect, it was a lot of fun to be able to receive position reports from all the other boats in the rally and to evaluate each other’s progress and tactics. It keeps you in racing mode!
We were a bit nervous ahead the start, as being in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean is no small matter! But this anxiety quickly disappeared when we came face to face with the dolphins.
Our crossing went without any real problems, despite our spinnaker giving up along the way. If I have one piece of advice to give you, it is that the whole rally is downwind, so it is important to check your downwind sails and think about a backup plan in case the same happens to you.
A few days before reaching the finish line, we received a call from another ARC boat with serious damage to their rigging. This forced them to motor the rest of the way to St Lucia.
We immediately changed course towards them, to come to their aid. We were able to follow their progress in real time, and then we realized that a superyacht was better-placed to help them than we were. In the end, the crew arrived safely in Guadeloupe!
We’re delighted to have been able to make this transatlantic crossing. Unsurprisingly, our Lagoon performed superbly.
Beyond the competitive aspect, the ARC is mostly about meeting people, and there’s a strong conviviality that you can feel immediately in Las Palmas. That’s the beauty of this rally.
Weather permitting, try to stick on the quickest route – the Great Circle!:)
Lagoons perform very well on the transatlantic crossings, just look at the ARC placings to see it! If the wind direction allows, you can use better angles, especially during the first week of the crossing.
In periods of light airs, sailing on a better angle with a code 0 can be much better (in corrected time) than putting the engines on. If we’d taken more time to read the rules, we would have realized that each hour on the engine costs 3 hours in corrected time. In the end, our one-day lead over the Lagoon 52 F Paloma was reduced to just 5 minutes on corrected time!
Before the start, I was expecting to feel a great relief at the finish, but as the crossing went really well, we didn’t particularly want to set foot on land. Even though the waves got a bit higher along the way, the advantages of having a big catamaran that’s not too light were confirmed.
Third place on corrected time was a great victory for us! This proves that VPLP and Lagoon have done an excellent job in designing the 52 SporTop, creating an amazing combination of comfort and performance. It is really easy to handle this big boat.
The day after arriving, you start to feel the effects of the short nights spent on board. Being one of the first boats to cross the finish line, we were able to enjoy a few days of rest before the celebrations for the end of this transatlantic rally.
Relive the first week of the ARC through this video:
We’ll see you next year for a new adventure!