Avoidance of a "Mickey Mouse" start provided a chance to look at the runners and riders this morning.

Things got off to what is becoming a traditional slow start on the first day of this edition of Cowes Week, the 10th sponsored by Skandia.

There was certainly no need to rush out onto the water this morning: at midday Dick Johnson reported from the Raymarine commentary boat that there was still just half-a-knot of breeze. “We don’t want to send people out on a Mickey Mouse race,” said chief race officer for today, Malcolm McKeag.

This allowed plenty of time to roam around the docks and out on the water and check out the varied fleet of close to 1,000 boats. New to Cowes this year is a multihull class, andGerber Firebird(pictured left) is one to watch out for here. At just eight meters, she set a blistering pace during the recent Round the Island Race, finishing half-an-hour behind Francis Joyon’s record breaking 90-foot trimaranIdec.Gerber, withSail Rocketfast man Paul Larsen at the helm, will be chased by 10 other multis, the slowest among them still rating among the Class 1 IRC boats!

The dynamic Sportsboat Class is another place to look for interesting boats. Firstly, there’s the canting keeled Backman 21Skandia Creativity. Not just a Cowes debut, today will be the first time the boat is sailed, owner/designer Hans Backman having experimented with a sailing plug until now! She hoisted her kite for the first time at the dock this morning. And weighing just 450kg, she’s rated at the top of the sportsboat fleet and will have a lot to prove.

Hot on her heels will be the JS9000Jessica. This super skinny AC derived 30-footer is very quick upwind and may be setting the pace in this 15-boat class. How she will do on corrected time versus established designs like the Melges 24 and J80 we’ll have to wait and see.

Then there’s Stephen Fein’s much talked about Richards 36Full Pelt. Another canting keeler, this extreme machine is capable of planing upwind and is rated somewhere between the Volvo 60s and the new Swan 601s, like Peter Ogden’s brand new stealthy-blackSpirit of Jethou, and Stephen Dodd’s latestIsland Fling. At close to half their size,Full Peltmakes an interesting ankle biter for these greyhounds. Yet another swing keeler, Iain Hall’s Shock 40Skandia Contributionis also likely to raise a few eyebrows.

For interesting names, you can’t beat the one-off Dutch entryKarel met de houten poot. Apparently it means Carl with the wood foot. There’s sure to be an interesting story behind that.

Whether there will be an interesting story out of today’s racing hangs in the balance although, as this is written, starts are finally getting underway, just in time before cancellations would have been required due to lack of time. More news later.