Experience counts at the start of the inaugural Volvo Ocean Race and it's Grant Dalton's Amer Sports One that is leading the eight-boat fleet west down the Solent

Experience counts at the start of the inaugural Volvo Ocean Race and it is Grant Dalton – the most experienced man in the field – and the crew of Amer Sports One that currently lead the fleet west down the Solent. Just an hour after the start, Dalton has entered Hurst Narrows.

The fleet is powered by a Force 4 north/northeasterly and the whole fleet is flying gennakers with the pole hard on the starboard side of the forestay. Dalton is the clear leader, followed some distance back by Gurra Krantz’s bright green SEB, now second after a stunning start, with John Kostecki’s illbruck and Knut Frostad’s djuice close behind.

Kevin Shoebridge’s Tyco was being followed closely by Roy Heiner’s Assa Abloy until the latter blew the clew out of her gennaker. Within minutes, they had fished out the heavier version and were up and running.

Jez Fanstone’s News Corp closed right up on Assa Abloy, clinching sixth place, with the girls on Amer Sports Too chasing the fleet. Obviously discontent with last place, the girls have hoisted a staysail to smooth the airflow across their sails in extremely choppy conditions.

The performance in the Solent will be extremely valuable to the sponsors of the individual boats but in terms of leg performance, Cape Town is a long way away and today’s spectacle has no bearing on the final result.

Stay tuned for more…