Coastal Boating, Sailing, Cruising, Yachting, Racing, Coastal, Sailboat, Yacht, Fleet, Club, Regatta, Commodore, One design, Social, Long Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, Buzzards Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Island, Seamanship, NE waters, NOAA, NWS Portugal comes to an end in Marina de Lagos

On Wednesday 29 June, ARC Portugal 2016 came to a close with awards presented to all the participating crews at a dinner hosted by the rally sponsor, Marina de Lagos. After four weeks together, firstly for rally preparations in Plymouth, then sailing across Biscay to make landfall in Bayona, and lastly two weeks cruising the coast of Portugal, the participants have had a memorable journey to reach the Algarve.

From Solent racers to first time cruising couples, crews this year had a wide range of previous sailing experiences before setting off. Sailing together as a fleet has helped them share knowledge and advice in different situations, with Rally Control also on hand.  From Bayona, the distances between stopover ports are covered in a day and conditions for each leg have been mixed; some residual swells combined with lights airs made one leg difficult, with stronger winds causing different challenges on another. Overall the passage south this year was lighter airs than normally expected at this time of year.


Ashore, crews have enjoyed an introduction to the many cultural highlights along the way including a port wine lodge, the birth and final resting places of Portugal's first monarch King Alfonso, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compestella in Galicia, the birth place and former home of the Portuguese discoverer Vasco de Gama, the famous university library at Coimbra, the Palace of Pompal in Oeiras, and the city of Lisbon. There's also been time for tapas in traditional town squares, to soak up the atmosphere in quaint fishing villages and enjoy countryside walks off the usual tourist trail.


All the participants have enjoyed getting to know each other well at the various social functions organised at each stopover, as well as the many impromptu gatherings aboard yachts and ashore. Lifelong friendships have been formed, and cruising partnerships established. And for the first time there was an engagement for one of the crew, whose girlfriend proposed to him on arrival in Lagos!

Shared experiences after a month together created a very special atmosphere at final rally dinner. Manager of Marina de Lagos, Ingrid Fortunato, has welcomed the fleet for over two decades and says about their involvement with the rally, "ARC Portugal was started to promote the opening of Marina de Lagos in 1994 and after twenty two years is well established as an event continually introducing yachts to sailing in Portugal. The arrival of the rally marks the start of the busy summer season during which we typically welcome in the region of 1200 visiting transit yachts, including many from the ARC on their way to the Canary Islands. As our first and longest running sponsored event ARC Portugal is very special to all of us at the marina, and we always look forward to their arrival."


For Andrew Bishop, Managing Director of World Cruising Club and founder of the rally, the rally is also a great annual event: "Having sailed the course in 1989, and run the rally for twenty two years, during which time we have introduced more than 400 yachts to sailing in Portugal, it always gives me great pleasure to see our participants end the rally with fond memories of sailing the Portuguese coast, a better knowledge of this lovely country, and often as more confident sailors through the experiences gained. ARC Portugal is a fantastic introduction to long distance cruising, and the first step for many starting new cruising adventures."


Whilst all those involved with ARC Portugal in 2016 will be sad that this year's rally has come to an end, it is also just start of many more exciting experiences this summer. Some boats are planning to continue cruising into the Mediterranean, whilst others will be using Marina de Lagos as a convenient base to continue exploring Portugal. Wherever their adventures take them next, the friendships between the crews and their memories of their sail south together are set to last a very long time. 



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