The atmosphere was certainly something special for all those starting one of the most challenging journeys of their sailing lives - spectator boats were out in force to filled with people from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria giving them a heartfelt send off.
There were some early dramas for several yachts, with a jammed shaft brake on Formosa 51 Wild Alliance forcing them to make a rapid return to the dockside, narrowly averting a fire on board.
Gusty conditions off the south of Gran Canaria, the infamous Canarian Wind Acceleration Zones, also took a toll on the fleet, with Selene B and Fica Fira both returning to make repairs to damaged sails. Unfortunately, Catana 522OC Nidari has had to withdraw from the ARC, having suffered a mast failure after the start and is now back in Las Palmas. The remaining yachts - Soundsphere, Lurata, Talina and Pim were hoping to restart after making repairs to autopilots or sails.
Vencedora, the Spanish Navy Ship acting as Committee boat, was on station with the Real Club Nautico de Gran Canaira laying the pin end of the line close to the shore.
At 1240, Admiral Nieto MANSO, Flag Officer, Canary Islands, signalled the start of the Racing Divisions from the bridge of Vencedora. As the yachts jostled for position and clear air, Lancelot - a Beneteau 40.7 - was first over the line, closely followed by Renaissance, a Corel 45 and then Incisor of Wight, a Corby 45. Jean-Phillipe CHOMETTE's record breaking Solune was an impressive site as she skipped along through the fleet with her crew hiked out hard on the rail.
20 minutes later at 1300, Emilio MAYORAL, the new President of the Las Palmas Port Authority, signalled the start of the Cruising Divisions. It was an impressive scene as the majority of the fleet, almost 200 yachts, sailed across the start line with the glistening sun on the water reflected on their hulls. Two thirds of the fleet chose the Committee boat end of the line with only a few hugging the shore. Richard MATTHEW's Oystercatcher XXV was the first to cross the line, with Bowman 42, Eternity of Hamble hard on their heels. Second Wind was third across the line in a light force three from the east north east, which gradually freed a little further down the course enabling many yachts to set their spinnakers and cruising chutes.