Crews at Poets’ Park in Oeiras © WCC / Thomas Bamber
Map showing the route of Rally Portugal. Credit: WCC
For many owners the first few hundred miles of an extended period of voyaging can be the most worrying and dramatic. ARC Portugal aims to alleviate this stress, giving skippers and crews a helping hand as they head south from the UK towards warmer climes. The rally is organised by World Cruising Club, the Cowes based company that also runs the iconic Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, from the Canary Islands to St Lucia in the Caribbean, among a number of other similar events around the world.
This year’s three-week long Rally Portugal left Plymouth’s Mayflower Marina on Sunday June 5, at the start of a 900 mile voyage south to Marina de Lagos, on the Algarve coast in southern Portugal. After the 550 mile non stop passage to Bayona, the fleet enjoyed a series of long day sails to stopovers in Povoa de Varzim, Gaia (for Porto), Figueira da Foz, Peniche, Oeiras and Sines.
A relaxed schedule allowed social activities to be arranged in every port, along with complimentary visits ashore to explore a range of sights, from ancient cities to fishing villages. World Cruising Club personnel, who help with registration, local contacts, docking, excursions, social activities and emergencies, provide support in each port.
The fleet setting sail as they leave Porto on a day tour to Lisbon © WCC / Thomas Bamber
“We have introduced more than 400 yachts to sailing in Portugal,” says Andrew Bishop, Managing Director of World Cruising Club. 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.”
At the end of the rally, many ARC Portugal boats continue cruising together after, exploring the western Mediterranean or north Africa. Some crews also use ARC Portugal as a shake-down for an Atlantic crossing with the main Atlantic Rally for Cruisers.
Next year’s Rally Portugal leaves Plymouth on June 4. To help prospective entries prepare in advance, World Cruising is running a Cruising in Portugal seminar in Southampton on July 24, 2016. The seminar is free to attend with advanced registration.