Black clouds were hanging over Sydney Harbour with occasional sunlight piercing through when the gun, and a collective sigh of relief, signalled the start of the 16th annual Sydney to Gold Coast Race.
A light southwest breeze saw a colourful spinnaker run down the harbour in stark contrast to the blustery conditions that have kept the yachties confined to the marina since Saturday, the original start day.
The bigger boats didn't waste anytime breaking away from the rest of the fleet with Sean Langman choosing to hoist Xena's massive asymmetric spinnaker immediately while Bob Fraser, who was steering Brindabella, two-sail reached for some distance before also hoisting a kite.
Amongst the 40-50 footers, Colin Wilson's brand new Lyons 49 Never a Dull Moment and Terry Mullens' Sting, (formerly Yendys), overall winner of the 1999 Telstra Sydney to Hobart Race, enjoyed the best starts.
Once the frontrunners reached Sydney Heads, where a 2-3 metre swell had waves forming over South Reef, they disappeared amongst the sets, only their towering rigs visible over the wave tops.
The Open 60 Grundig Xena led her bigger Sydney rival Brindabella (George Snow) by half a mile as they turned the corner at North Head to begin their 386 nautical mile journey to the Queensland Gold Coast.
The next group of boats to leave the harbour included Peter Hansen's Elliott 45 Coyote, Gary Anderson's Bull 1200 Bullistic and Warren John's Heaven Can Wait, followed by Sting and Never a Dull Moment.
A total of 53 yachts were on the start line with one retirement, Graham Gibson's Ninety Seven, following the 10.00am start. Phillip Hervey's Lipstick on Your Collar reported a delayed start almost two hours after the rest of the fleet after their propeller spun off as they left the dock this morning.
The only other incident following the start was the removal of a seasick crewman by a CYCA vessel from Brian Emerson's Prestige 40 Wahoo.
The fleet will radio in their first position report at 1535 hours this afternoon.