A Family Odyssey – The Atlantic Odyssey Gets Underway

Perfect weather conditions with the northeasterly winds blowing at 12 to 15 knots saw the 38 Atlantic Odyssey boats take the start from Lanzarote.

Atlantic Odyssey boats leaving Marina Lanzarote for the start

In spite of the Atlantic Odyssey being a non-competitive event, several  skippers tried hard to be first across the start line with Australian Alba with German Invictus hot on its heels….

Alba first across start line


Invictus second across the line just ahead of Lord Jim


Ydem – smallest boat in the fleet – on start line

The only boat not able to take the start was Meli Melo but will follow soon. There were a few last-minute withdrawals due to technical problems but with the option of joining the Atlantic Odyssey II in January, some will be able to cross the Atlantic later in the season.

Mercredi Soir crew salute the Committee boat


Patuk speeds past on its way to Martinique


Family boat Paloma brings up the rear

With 37 children under the age of 18 among the 43 boats preparing to take the start from Lanzarote on 18 November, the Atlantic Odyssey has been described by a French journalist as ‘la transat des enfants’,” said organiser Jimmy Cornell. “This apt description was in fact bettered at the welcome party held in the delightful setting of the Castillo San Jose looking out over the Arrecife seafront, when the tourism counsellor of Lanzarote suggested that a more fitting name of this successful event would be the Family Odyssey.”

2015 sees the Atlantic Odyssey enter its third year, with an increase on entries year on year showing this original concept has hit a chord with cruising sailors. Spotting a gap in the market is Jimmy Cornell’s speciality ever since he conceived the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers nearly 30 years ago which saw more than 200 yachts cross the Atlantic. Times have changed and the need for a small scale, friendly event prompted Jimmy to come out of retirement and launch the Atlantic Odyssey in 2013.

 ‘We really want to encourage families to take part,’ said Doina Cornell, who coordinates the events alongside her father Jimmy. ‘So we offer a special discount to boats with crew members under 16. In fact, thanks to our sponsors we are able to keep our fees low for all our entries. If you do the sums, you’ll see what you get in return – from free docking to specialist seminars and support from our experienced team before and during the crossing – is far in excess of what you pay.’

Jimmy and Doina Cornell know better than most what cruising families want, having spent seven years sailing around the world together in the 1970s along with Jimmy’s wife Gwenda and son Ivan. ‘We are still friends with sailors we met when we made our first Atlantic crossing nearly 40 years ago,’ said Jimmy. ‘The support and camaraderie of friends when you are cruising is priceless. So it is great that the Odyssey can help make that happen.’

Meanwhile the twelve yachts taking part in the inaugural Islands Odyssey have left the Canaries bound for the Cape Verde and Barbados, after spending a memorable month cruising through the seven islands of the Canarian archipelago.

The Islands Odyssey is a pilot for an even more ambitious event for 2016 when the Barbados 50 rally, sponsored by Barbados Tourism, will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Barbadian independence by sailing a historic route from London to Barbados via West Africa and the Cape Verdes.

The Atlantic Odyssey is sponsored by Calero Marinas 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.

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