Six of the world's most state-of-the-art multihulls set sail from London on 2,500-mile race today 8/5/06

Six French, state-of-the-art, grand prix yachts have spent the last six days in Canary Wharf stunning the City’s business men and women as they strolled round the docklands. Today these giant multihulls left the dock to race down the Thames, their final destination Nice, Alpes Maritimes. The 2,500-mile race is expected to take approximately 8-10 days.

At 1345 a gun was fired and all six yachts entered into a prologue race the other side of the Thames Barriers at Cross Ness. It was decided at the last minute that to race down such a narrow and busy stretch of the Thames was asking for incidents, so the actual race start line was moved to 25 miles further down the river and at the mouth of the Thames. The port of London Authorities had confirmed that 25 cargo ships were expected to be in the same area and same time as the race start.

British sailor Mike Golding, who helped the Multi Cup Café Ambassador management set up the event commented: “It has taken a lot of work to make this happen, but Canary Wharf and the Port of London Authorities have helped us every step of the way. It is great for London to put on events of this sort. I’m sure that after the whale, this will be the most bizarre sight you’ll ever see on the Thames!”

Many of the French skippers have never even been to London before, but have enjoyed arriving in the City in such a unique way. Franck Cammas, skipper of Groupama commented: “When we came through the lock in Canary Wharf it was brilliant. I’ve never been to London before, so coming down the River Thames is a good first way to do it! Sailing on the Thames is a very specific type of sailing, as there’s so much shipping and not a lot of space – particularly for a sail-powered vessel that’s used to the open ocean!”

Thierry Duprey du Vorsent, skipper of Gitana 12 added: “This time, because we’re starting from London, we’re first going to have to deal with a tricky area on the river complete with currents, sand banks, and lots of traffic on the Thames: it’s an area we don’t know very well, but neither do our rivals!”