Mike Golding and team aboard Ecover pushed it a bit too far at the start of the Calais Round Britain and Ireland Race and had to re-cross the line

Seven Open 60s lined up in near perfect conditions, sunshine and 15-18 knots of south westerly wind yesterday afternoon as they answered the start gun for the 1,850-mile Calais Round Britain and Ireland Race, lining up with all the tenacity of an inshore small boat regatta.

Despite there being more than a week of hard sailing ahead being line shy or conservative was clearly not an option. The fleet were looking to squeeze out any early advantage to be gained by getting ahead and into the clear wind first and therefore be able to dictate the plays to the chasing pack in the upwind conditions.

After trying to swoop down across the line from the windward side, in a daring move that would have offered them the best speed and positioning, Mike Golding’s Ecover was forced to re-start, losing valuable minutes.

Initially Golding and team seemed to harden up, trimming in their sails hard and settling to line up fourth across the line, but the crew then realised their error and were quick to return around the inshore, pin end of the start line, re-starting and forced to chase the sterns of all six of their opponents.

Despite their early mistake they were quick to get back into their stride, tacking closest inshore to gain an immediate benefit from a bend in the wind direction and slightly more wind speed. With Ecover into her renowned maximum upwind height and speed mode, they had already pulled back two places by the first mark of the course, the Abbeville buoy, 2.5 miles after the start. By the time the fleet rounded the buoy just off Gris Nez, Golding and his men were fourth alongside Around Alone winner Bernard Stamm on Cheminees Poujoulat.

Once again the public turned out in force to send off the race crews, lining the quayside all the way around the dock as the fleet locked out to prepare for the exciting start to an event that has become a must-do for the serious Open 60 campaigns.