Twenty eight teams with crew from 18 different countries started the 2018 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, when the cannon fire from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line signalled the start of one of the world's toughest yacht races.
For the start at midday on Sunday 12th August, a cold front from the Atlantic provided pewter skies and a gusting southerly wind, accompanied by rain. Several low pressure systems are forecast to give rough weather during the 1805 nautical mile marathon.
"It really is fantastic to see so many competitive boats on the starting line for such a tough race," commented Wouter Verbaak from Sevenstar Yacht Transport.
"Looking at the weather ahead with gale force winds forecast for the top of Scotland, good seamanship will be a big part of this race. Sevenstar is proud to sponsor this race and I would like to highlight that as part of our ethos for keeping plastics out of the oceans, there are no bow stickers for this race, instead the competitors have agreed to fly a Sevenstar flag."
Of the fully crewed yachts racing under IRC, Ross Applebey's British Oyster 48 Scarlet Oyster got the best start. Once the fleet had left the Solent, Giles Redpath's Lombard 46 Pata Negra led the charge on the water, just ahead of Mark Emerson's A13 Phosphorus II.
In IRC Two-handed, Conor Fogerty's Irish Bam! and Ian Hoddle's British Game On were locked in a duel that is likely to last for the entire race. The two Sun Fast 3600s have pulled away from the rest of the IRC Two Handed teams.
In IRC Four, Charlene Howard's American Sun Odyssey 45.2 AJ Wanderlust is leading close rival Sigma 36 British Beagle skippered by Charles Emmett; both teams are racing Two-Handed and expected to take 10 days or more to complete the race.