The youngest skipper in this year's ARC 2001 (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers), 22-year-old Ross Daniel (GBR), has led his crew to line honours and smashed the record for the crossing in the Formula 1 yacht Spirit of Diana, a British Farr 65.
Spirit of Diana and the Belgian Swan 68, Lady in Red fought a nail biting finish to the end in Rodney Bay, St Lucia and had been vying for first place since the start on Sunday 25th November 2001 from Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. The larger Swan had led the fleet for most of the 2,668 nautical miles, revelling in the strong trade wind conditions encountered this year.
Ross and his 12 strong crew, who came in at 12.21.43 UTC, just half a mile ahead of Lady in Red, have knocked 18 hours, 29 minutes and three seconds off the record, previously held by Luc Coquelin from France, in the Open 50s, Multicap Caraibes, a record which was set in 2000.
Now in its 16th year the ARC is the largest transoceanic crossing in the world and is the ideal way for participants to experience an ocean crossing. Amazingly Ross, who comes from Plymouth UK, has only been sailing for just three years and the ARC was his first taste of ocean racing and now sweet success.
Also on board the winning boast was 44 -year old Tim Horsfield who is a novice to the sailing world and was using the ARC as his first Atlantic crossing. Tim, from Somerset UK, who is a competent helmsman is actually registered blind and used an audio compass throughout the event.
Andrew Bishop, general manager of event organiser World Cruising Club (part of Challenge Business) comments: "This has been the closest ever finish in the ARC's 16 year history. Lady in Red had led the fleet right from the start in Las Palmas, however they just could not hold the lead as the winds went light, 24 hours out from the finish. They've still done incredibly well and second place is their best record plus of course they also have the honour of having smashed the previously held record."
"The ARC was originally conceived as a friendly crossing for cruising yachts yet the racing division has really picked up momentum since it was introduced in 1989 and every year we have more and more serious racers enter aboard more and more serious racing yachts competing. For Daniel to have led his crew and won the ARC is tremendous but to have won at such an early age and with so little experience fast tracks him to becoming a serious racing contender in the future. He certainly has a very bright future ahead of him."
"The rest of the fleet (220 yachts) are now making steady progress in NE F3 winds and we expect to see a further 8 finishers during the next 24 hours. The entrants will then most probably get stuck straight into the entertainment's programme to celebrate their crossing and to share stories about their adventures with each other."
Sir Chay Blyth, executive chairman of Challenge Business phoned through his congratulations to the team in St Lucia and upon hearing that Ross' goal was to compete in a round the-world yacht race mentioned that he would certainly consider him for the next Global Challenge!