With one week to go before the ARC 2011 fleet leave Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia, crews from across the world marched and danced behind their national flags in a stirring parade around Las Palmas Marina.
At midday Sunday November 13, hundreds of ARC participants took part in the Official Opening Ceremony for ARC 2011. Flag bearers from representing Gran Canaria, Spain, Saint Lucia, the European Union and 28 of the main nationalities in the ARC fleet paraded behind the Banda Gran Canaria, with the Banda H Mencey beating a salsa rhythm at the back. The grand parade had a real festival atmosphere as participants young and old waved flags and cheered.
Sr Jesus Ramirez, President of the Port of Las Palmas, Pablo Barbero from the Concejal del Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas (City of Las Palmas) and Sr Melchor Camon, of the Patronato de Turismo de Gran Canaria welcomed the ARC fleet to Las Palmas and Gran Canaria. Sean Compton, chairman of the Saint Lucia ARC Planning Committee then said how much Saint Lucia was looking forward to seeing the boats in a few weeks time.
Andrew Bishop, Managing Director of World Cruising Club declared ARC 2011 officially "open" and the country flags were proudly hoisted on flagpoles around the marina as fireworks were launched in celebration.
The fiesta atmosphere continued with ARC participants and local people taking part in Don Pedro's famous International Dinghy Race. The race across the marina encourages crews, dressed in a variety of fancy dress costumes, to use any tactics they like to outwit their opponents.
Later in the afternoon, teams of ARC participants and World Cruising Club staff raced the local 'vela latina' outside the harbour. These lateen-rigged wooden boats are unique to Las Palmas, and the racing was kindly organised by the Federacion Vela Latina and the Ayuntamiento de Las Palmas.
In the first week of ARC activities in Las Palmas, crews have enjoyed daily social events, seminars on cruising topics and the opportunity to plant another 200 trees in the ARC Forest in the mountains above the city.
ARC activities continue this week, with more crew flying in to join their boats. 202 of the 222 confirmed entries are now in the marina, and the remaining boats are expected in the next few days.
20 November: Start of ARC 2011 from Las Palmas
06-11 December: ARC boats finish (approx)
18 December: ARC prize giving in Saint Lucia
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