26th Caribbean 1500 is On!

Happy Halloween!

It’s the last day of October 2015, and the 26th annual ARC Caribbean 1500 is under way! For the third straight year, both the Tortola- and Bahamas-bound rally fleets are beginning to gather at Ocean Marine Yacht Center in historic Portsmouth, Virginia. There’s a great program on offer for the week here that’s just getting going today. Click here to see the full events calendar.

Highlights include three full days of seminars next Tuesday, Thursday & Friday, including a full-on day of safety training next Friday. 

On Thursday, November 6, we’ll be hosting a private showing of Around the World with Jean-du-Sud, the classic sailing film by single-handed sailor Yves Gelinas at the historic Commodore Theatre in town (see trailer below). Yves is here on Jean-du-Sud, his famous Alberg 30, and will be hosting the screening and offering an in-person Q&A afterwards. It’s a rare opportunity to meet a sailing legend and see what many consider to be the finest sailing film ever produced on the big screen. The Commodore, being a dinner-style theatre, is also serving lunch during the show!

The fleet won’t actually set sail for points south for another 8 days. But ask some of the crews around the docks still preparing their boats, and every day left on the calendar will be used to it’s fullest.

“Can you check and see if I’m coming up on your AIS?” asked Daniel of the French-Canadian Beneteau Marinade yesterday upon Isbjorn’s arrival into Portsmouth. He had just finished up installing the new hardware to both send and receive an AIS signal aboard – a crucial piece of gear for peace-of-mind. “We’ve got you right where you’re supposed to be!” I answered.

For the first year since Mia and I became event managers for the 1500, we’ve entered our own boat in the rally. Isbjorn is our classic S&S Swan 48, and we sailed her down from Annapolis overnight on Thursday into Friday. For once we can finally relate, in real-time, to the crews scurrying to make their boat’s ready for sea. While Daniel was checking his AIS, I was slowly working down the list of last-minute items needed to be completed on Isbjorn before the rally office opened and I had to focus on responsibilities elsewhere. Now that the event has started, Mia and I have left Isbjorn in the capable hands of my dad Dennis, who will skipper the boat in the event while Mia and I run it. This will be his third year sailing in the rally, the past two on his own boat, Sojourner, a Wauquiez Hood 38.

The seafaring town just across the Elizabeth River from bustling Norfolk and the world’s largest US Naval base has a lengthy and decorated maritime history. It served as one of the fledging United States’ first shipbuilding sites, and maintains a strong tradition of boatbuilding and yacht repair facilities, of which Ocean Marine is a large part.

Stay tuned to carib1500.com for daily News and Feature Stories, and make sure to follow the boats in the fleet via the blogs! Until tomorrow!