An exciting and clean start for the 12 yachts as they beat out of the Solent

Despite a short start line off Portsmouth and hundreds of spectator boats, all 12 yachts in the Global Challenge got a clean start to their 27,000-mile race. South-south-westerly winds of 20 knots produced an exciting port tack start and Clive Cosby’s Team Stelmar were first to cross the line after reaching the favoured pin end early and bearing away down the line.

With the spring tide flushing west at between one and two knots, crews aimed to tack out into – and stay in – the main channel before and after passing through a gate off Gurnard. Results at this early stage may be essentially meaningless, but in front of an audience of friends, family, colleagues and media, all the yacht crews were anxious to look sharp.

Stuart Jackson and his crew on Barclays drew out a lead in the first hour of the race, only to be overtaken just before the first gate by Duggie Gillespie on Isle of Sark. The Scots skipper has won a previous Challenge Transat race and Round Britain and Ireland Challenge and is regarded as a race favourite.

The first night at sea promises stronger winds as the yachts make their west. As dark falls this evening, the fleet will be beginning to encounter winds for Force 6 or 7 from the south-west, and will have their taste of the windward conditions that are the hallmark of this race.