Ellen MacArthur led the fleet out to the Clipper Race Leg start line on Saturday 10/4/06

Dame Ellen MacArthur who is currently in Qingdao for her Asian B&Q tour counted down the start of leg five of the Clipper 05-06 Round the World Yacht Race (to Victoria, Canada) on Saturday.

In formation on board her record breaking trimaran B&Q, MacArthur led the fleet out to the start of the race for the start at midday. At 1200 hrs local time (0400 GMT) the Cardiff Clipper was the first of the ten-strong fleet to cross the start line closely followed Durban.

In fine conditions with 20-25 knots of breeze and sunshine reflecting off the skyscraper coastline, the fleet embarked on the longest leg in the history of the Clipper Race at over 5,600 miles. The race will take them across the North Pacific where the crew will experience some of the toughest sailing conditions since the race start in Liverpool last September.

Before setting off, Solo-Yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur visited each boat to wish the crew fair winds and a safe passage. She commented on her admiration for the amateur sailors: “This is the longest leg of their trip and everyone is very excited and very positive. I know what it feels liked on the morning of a trip and they just want to get out there and race. It is an amazing achievement and I wish them all the best.”

The race is due to arrive in Victoria, Canada on 6 May.