Prince William has taken the lead in the opening day of the first ever Tall Ships match race off Portsmouth

Prince William, owned and operated by the Tall Ships Youth Trust, has taken the lead in the opening day of the first ever Tall Ships match race off Portsmouth.

Winning Captain Darren Naggs said: “It was a brilliant race – with identical ships the outcome is solely down to the skill of the crew on board. With just two days of training, they have done a magnificent job. Our confidence is up, but the race still belongs to anyone.”

Crew member Matthew Collings, on board Stavros S Niachos commented yesterday: “We worked brilliantly as a team – with everyone pulling together to get the best out of the ship. It was incredibly motivating to see Prince William so close at times, but we just couldn’t manage to get in front. The wind gods were against us today but we are looking forward to better favour tomorrow!”

The two ships followed a course set in the Solent, out of Portsmouth’s historic harbour, past Old Portsmouth and the ramparts and around buoys set between the mainland and the Isle of Wight. The ships battled it out over four hours in a Force 3 easterly wind, under a clear blue sky. Prince William completed the 17 nautical mile course in 3 hours, 14 minutes, with Stavros S Niarchos just two minutes, 17 seconds behind. The ship that completes the course in the best time at the end of the second day of racing will be presented with the Tall Ships Challenge Cup.

Stavros S Niarchos and Prince William are the UK’s only two identical tall ships. At 60m loa, they require a voyage crew of 48 to realise their full speed under 18 square sails. The final day of racing will take place today off the Isle of Wight.