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Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race - The Start

7 August, 2006 7:18:00 PM BST | Racetime 00:01:18:00

The Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race got underway on a glorious Solent evening with grey cloud cover atop a smooth sea state and a gentle north-easterly force three to four. The twenty-eight competing yachts from around the world had a busy pre-start as they jostled for position on the Royal Yacht Squadron line with the making tack being port as they headed out to the eastern Solent before coming back down the back of the Isle of Wight and along the South Coast of England. Bang on time at 1800, the starting canon fired from the Squadron hustings with Ger O'Rourke's Cookson 50 'Kingspan ' Chieftain' tacking beneath Global Yacht Racing Incisor of Andy Middleton and quickly seizing control of the opening minutes of the race.

Coming in on long timed-runs to the starting line were the Open 60 of Artemis Ocean Racing with stand-in skipper Jonny Malbon and Solune of Jean-Philippe Chomette who quickly overhauled O'Rourke's smaller design after five minutes of racing on the flooding tide. Artemis Ocean Racing was hitting speeds of up to 11 knots in the eastern Solent and will be tough to catch with her enormous Open 60 sail plan and brand new sails working to great effect in the flat water around the back of the Isle of Wight.

Also up at the front of the fleet after good starts were Harry Heijst's beautiful Sparkman & Stephens Winsome and Andy Middleton's Global Yacht Racing Incisor who led the chasing pack of smaller boats as the front-runners started to put distance on the fleet.

Last away from the line was Clem Jones' J/160 Jeu d'Esprit some three minutes behind the leaders, no doubt owing to the sheer volume of quality food this team of Corinthian sailors from Wales, Scotland, France, Germany and Yorkshire are packing below! Jeu d'Esprit quickly overhauled the Emily Pearson skippered Global Yacht Racing EH01 with an all-female crew who are hoping to raise up to '100,000 for the charity Sail 4 Cancer.

So as the competing crews enter their first night on this, the 1760 mile Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race, it looks like being a calm and pleasant evening to bed down and get into rotation for what is expected to be a 10-15 day race. Already the tracking devices, developed by RORC in conjunction with OC Technology and fitted on all the boats are up and running delivering fantastic data live to the internet including position and speeds. This service is available to all interested spectators via a dedicated Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland micro-site accessed via the RORC website http://www.rorc.org and the RORC will continue to bring updates throughout with commentary from the boats as the race unfolds.

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