Press release: Colourful Start to the Atlantic Odyssey

logo-AO-sq-150The largest sailing event ever to have left from the island of Lanzarote on the Canary islands took place on Sunday 16 November as 31 sailing yachts in the Atlantic Odyssey crossed the start line off Arrecife bound for Martinique 2750 nautical miles away. Seventeen nationalities were represented amongst the crews, and 15 yachts were sailing as families with children onboard.

Conditions were perfect for the start, with 12 knots of wind from the north-east. Sephina, a Lagoon 400 from Australia, owned by Robert Monteith and Jennifer Mallengier, crossed the start line first, sporting a smart blue and white Parasailor. However as they were a few seconds too early, the first to cross after the 12 noon starting gun was Gazel Rebel, a Pogo 850 from France, owned by Damien Chambolle, Antoine Cassard and Pierre Mondain-Monval and looking equally vibrant with her yellow hull and pink assymetric spinnaker.

From Lanzarote most boats headed southwest to leave the Canary Islands behind as quickly as possible, with the hope of picking up the trade winds near the latitude of the Cape Verde Islands. The Atlantic crossing will take between 14 and 22 days, depending on the speed of the boats, whose progress can be tracked online. Four yachts departed Arrecife a day later, having been delayed due to technical issues, bringing the total number of yachts at sea to 35.

The first Atlantic Odyssey was launched in 2013 by Jimmy Cornell, who conceived the format of the cruising rally when he started the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) in 1986. The Odyssey concept of a non-competitive, small-scale family event has truly been realised by the third edition of the Atlantic Odyssey, evidenced by the warm cameraderie amongst the sailors taking part. Hosted by Marina Lanzarote, a series of seminars was offered in the week before the start, which was open to all sailors in the marina, not only Odyssey participants, culminating in a dramatic liferaft demonstration and simulated helicopter rescue in the marina.

The Atlantic Odyssey reflects the Odyssey motto ‘The Ocean – Our Future’ with a science program run in partnership with UNESCO-IOC. Following the successful deployment of drifter buoys in the 2013 Atlantic Odyssey, three more buoys will be deployed in the Atlantic. The buoys transmit meteorological and oceanographic data via satellite, providing an invaluable service to scientists studying the oceans. So many boats volunteered for the deployment, that a lottery was held, with the winners all being boats with children onboard: New Zealand Om, Alytes from Germany, and French Mandarina.

The Atlantic Odyssey is sponsored by Puerto Calero Marinas, Islas Canarias and the Tourist Board of Lanzarote.

The Martinique sponsor of the Atlantic Odyssey is the Regional Council of Martinique. While in Martinique, the Atlantic Odyssey will be hosted by Marina Le Marin.

The Atlantic Odyssey is organized by Cornell Sailing Events.

The next Atlantic Odyssey will start on 8 Janary 2015 from the island of La Palma and also finish in Martinique.

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