Graham Dalton has a start to silence the critics on the opener to Around Alone - and watch out for Derek Hatfield, the Canadian Mountie in the Open 40

After an eventful – and often controversial – few months before the start of Around Alone, Graham Dalton conjured up another surprise today when he confidently started ahead of the rest of the fleet. He led out of Newport (pictured top left) until running out of wind and being overhauled by Patrick de Radrigues sailing Garnier.

The fully crewed prologue race to New York is important for some sponsors and not for others. Race favourites Bernard Stamm and Thierry Dubois held back, but their strategy will be to avoid any dramas or damage before the start of the race proper. At this stage, they have nothing to prove.

Right up with the leaders in bigger and hugely more powerful boats was Derek Hatfield, the Canadian sailor who built his Open 40 (bottom left). This Bob Dresser design, which is not dissimilar to a scaled down Finot 60, looks dauntingly small but beautifully built and finished, and Hatfield showed today he could be a very serious competitor indeed. The former Canadian Mountie quickly left the two other 40s a long way behind.

The yachts face a 160-mile beat down to New York, where they are due tomorrow. They will start again on the first leg to Torquay on Sunday at midday. Positions for the fleet will be displayed on the Around Alone website: