The weekend of 15 November 2019 heralded the launch of the 30th Annual Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria; the race begins there, and ends in Saint Lucia in mid-December. This year, the ARC race includes a youth team comprised of 12 young people, six of whom flew from Saint Lucia to Gran Canaria to join six sailors from the UK.
A contingency of twenty Saint Lucians arrived in Las Palmas for the launch event, where we were greeted by the rain – and no sun! As it was my first time, and not knowing what to expect other than that I’d get to bask in the sun and enjoy my first visit to Las Palmas, I was grateful that at least I was away from the English cold – and continued looking forward to the rest of the trip.
Throughout the weekend I attended several events: the official ARC Welcome Fiesta, an island tour of Gran Canaria, a drinks reception for the ARC sailors and, finally, the ARC Opening Ceremony. All events were well attended, and enabled us to interact with the sailors and discuss their expectations of Saint Lucia and the best places to visit; we recommended the Sulphur Spring in Soufriere, Pigeon Island and the Pitons, just to mention a few. I also inspired a sailor from the UK to sample our award-winning Chairman’s Reserve Rum when in Saint Lucia. The highlight of the weekend was leading the ARC Opening Ceremony, in the marina, where we exhibited our national costume and wore T-shirts adorned with our flag. We represented Saint Lucia in style.
The weekend left me with such a buzz; on my return to England I was beaming with happiness and pride when recounting my experience to my family, friends and colleagues. A message to fellow Saint Lucians: be proud of your ‘Beautiful Island of Saint Lucia’, get involved, and represent your country. Mark this date in your diary for next year – you will not be disappointed!