Perfect autumn conditions greeted the competitors of the round the world race in Barcelona yesterday

The Barcelona World Race is underway, with a clean start on Sunday afternoon, under bright, sunny skies on a warm autumn day. In fact, conditions couldn’t have been better for the start, with the wind building to a Southerly of near 10 knots, just ahead of the 12:00 (GMT) start time.

An enormous spectator fleet of over 650 boats was on hand to celebrate the fleet of nine boats starting the Barcelona World Race (see opposite), with many tens of thousands more crowded along the shoreline to pay tribute to the 18 skippers as they embark on their three-month race around the planet.

At exactly 13:00 local time, famed offshore sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur and the Mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, fired off the starting gun, setting the fleet on its way. The southwesterly breeze made for a downwind start,

Crossing the starting line first was Educacion sin Fronteras, with local sailor Albert Bargues and his co-skipper Servanne Escoffier – at 26, the youngest sailor in the race. Immediately following the start, PRB roared off into the spectator fleet, flying along at 12 to 14 knots under spinnaker through the crowded waters.

By the first mark PRB had grabbed an early lead over Hugo Boss and Paprec-Virbac 2. Delta Dore and Estrella Damm were very close behind. On the return pass through the starting line – just 48-minutes later – PRB had extending its lead over Delta Dore, but Estrella Damm, Mutua Madrilena, Veolia Environnement, and Paprec-Virbac 2 were all close behind. Temenos II and Hugo Boss, who had lost significant ground with a troubled tack, followed. Educacion sin Fronteras rounded out the fleet, some six minutes behind Boss.

The fleet had two more marks to leave to starboard before one final waypoint remained just off the port of Sitges. Once passed the ‘Estrella Damm buoy’ the Barcelona World Race competitors were free to find their best route to Gibraltar.

Tacking towards the shore, en route to Sitges at 16:15 local time, PRB still held the lead, with Veolia Environnement, Estrella Damm, Hugo Boss, and Delta Dore all giving chase close behind. The forecast is for lighter winds on Monday, so putting miles under the keel now is critical.

For more information on competitors and the race itself, click here .