From a local standpoint, of all the boats arriving here in the ARC, nothing created more anticipation and excitement than the arrival of Challenger 1 on Wednesday evening at IGY Rodney Bay Marina. The sailboat carried a young crew, including six Saint Lucians, and received a rousing welcome after completing the trans-Atlantic crossing from Gran Canaria. The welcoming committee included Minister of Tourism, Dominic Fedee; Events Company of St Lucia; Saint Lucia Tourism Authority; staff at IGY Rodney Bay Marina; World Cruising Club; sponsors of all the individuals on board the boat; parents of the young sailors and well-wishers. The Saint Lucian flag was proudly displayed by a huge, cheering section on the docks of IGY Rodney Bay Marina.Challenger 1, with the ARC Youth team on board, preparing to dock at IGY Rodney Bay Marina.
Challenger 1 arrived in Saint Lucia at approximately 8:00 pm, some 17 days and 12 hours after setting out from Gran Canaria on November 24, and having sailed a total of 3,028 nautical miles. Challenger 1 is 67-foot-long sailboat and is part of a fleet that once did an ocean around the world race. She was built for speed rather than comfort and, during the crossing, reached a top speed of 15 knots.
The crew’s skipper is Gary Rutherford from the United Kingdom, who has done the Atlantic crossing on three previous occasions although this is the first time he’s had a young crew on board. The crew consists of six Saint Lucians, four people from Gran Canaria and two from the UK. The Saint Lucians are Tyrus Antoine, Gabriella Chreiki, Chrisanki Flood, Krishna Joseph, Neil Melius and Andonai Modeste.
Modeste gave his account of what he called “the experience of a lifetime”. Clearly excited, he said:“It was truly an amazing trip! We had lots of fun on the way here. We learned a lot of stuff from our skipper and first mate and also our watch leaders. It was truly amazing. It was better than I expected. I had a lot of fun and I am sure everyone enjoyed themselves. It was hard work but that’s what it’s all about.”There was a huge welcoming committee for the arrival of Challenger 1.
When asked how he got along with the other crew members he hesitated for a while then replied: “Well, at first it is always going to be a bit challenging. Different nationalities—Spanish, English, Saint Lucians—but after a while we all grew as a family.” Modeste encouraged other sailors to follow in his footsteps and said that, given the opportunity, he would love to have another go at the ARC.
Communications Manager for World Cruising Club, Sarah Collins was impressed with the reception Challenger 1 received. “The welcome for the ARC Youth Team was unlike anything I have ever seen in seven years working for the ARC. It was amazing for them to be welcomed in such a wonderful way by Saint Lucians. Every single member of the crew was overwhelmed. In fact they said they had no words to describe this unbelievable welcome.”
As of Thursday morning, just over 70 boats had already arrived in Saint Lucia and another 70 or so are expected over the weekend.