International fleet starts Atlantic adventure

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A multinational fleet that has sailed from the Caribbean and Virginia is setting off on sail across the Atlantic west to east as part of ARC Europe.

In total, 77 sailors on 19 yachts flying the flags of 12 countries will be sailing to Bermuda, then cruising the Azores archipelago before heading for Lagos in Portugal.

The main fleet started May 5 from Nanny Cay on Tortola, British Virgin Islands. The second fleet started May 6 from Hampton, Va.

The two fleets will rendezvous in St. George's Bermuda for some social time and preparations for the 1,800-nautical-mile Atlantic passage.

ARC Europe isn't just an A-to-B sailing rally, it is also a cruise and an opportunity to explore. In each destination, the crews enjoy social and sightseeing activities including a rum tasting in Bermuda and watching bulls running in the Azores. The Azores cruise is a popular part of the rally that takes the yachts to four of these diverse and remote islands; Faial, Terceira, São Miguel and Santa Maria.

Larry Ivins, skipper of U.S.-flagged Hylas 54 Berkeley East said of last year's ARC Europe: "ARC Europe brings a whole new dimension to the term 'boat rally'. The stops in Bermuda and the Azores gave everyone a chance to really get acquainted, and the land time made it much more of a vacation, rather than simply 'moving the boat.'

Click here for information, including photos and video, from the rally.