The third race of the Rolex IMS Offshore World Championship started today at 1240

The third race of the Rolex IMS Offshore World Championship started today at 1240. The 63-boat fleet left the Marina Grande Harbour of Capri not expecting to step ashore again for at least 24 hours.

The course for the long offshore race started with a two-mile leg to a windward mark at the Eastern end of Capri. At the first turn it was John Kahlbetzer’s Australian Bumble Bee V that led on the water from Alessandro Pirera’s Italian Farr 53 Orlanda (with Roy Heiner calling tactics and Ian Moore navigating) and Carphone Warehouse CEO Charles Dunstone’s British Maxi Enigma. In the smaller classes Antonio Orlandi’s Italtel again showed to be in control in Class Bravo and Class Charlie points leader Roberto la Corte’s Paul & Shark managed to lay the first mark on one tack from the start line.

Spinnakers were initially set for the second leg, which took the fleet deep into the Gulf of Naples. The new Westerly wind started to fill in fast at this point and headsails quickly replaced downwind sails for the rest of this 12-mile leg. The turn mark the fleet will round, an inflatable Rolex buoy, is positioned right in front of the Castel Dell’Ovo, part of the 17th century Neapolitan city defence system.

From Castel Dell’Ovo the fleet will pass the beautiful resort island Ischia to starboard (on the north-west corner of the Gulf) and then head north for a 30-mile leg to a mark in front of the old Norman fortress town of Gaeta.

In the small hours of Wednesday morning the fleet leaders will then head back south again, passing to the West of Ischia, through a gate in front of Marina Grande, Capri and then continuing across the Gulf of Salerno to a mark in front of the town of St Maria di Castellabate. The final leg is the 30-mile return across the Salerno Gulf to Capri and the finish line. The 200-mile long course has plenty of turning marks, headlands, tricks and traps, and will be a great test for the navigators and crews of the 63-boat fleet.

Although the race started in light southerly winds, weather forecasters are predicting that the winds will increase slowly all the way up to 25-30 knots at times as a cold front descends southwards over Italy. The wind direction will steadily clock around to the right finishing off in the north-west after the front has passed over the fleet in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The long offshore is expected to take 24 hours, which means a finish at the end of the afternoon on Wednesday. Thursday is scheduled as a layday. Inshore racing continues on Friday and Saturday.