The Barcelona World Race is underway, with a clean start on Sunday afternoon, under bright, sunny skies on a warm autumn day.
Conditions couldn't have been better for the start, with the wind building to a southerly of near 10 knots, just ahead of the 12:00 start time.
An enormous spectator fleet of over 650 boats was on hand to celebrate the fleet of nine boats starting the Barcelona World Race, with many tens of thousands more crowded along the shoreline to pay tribute to the 18 skippers as they embark on their three-month race around the planet.
At exactly 13:00 local time, famed offshore sailor Dame Ellen MACARTHUR (GBR) and the Mayor of Barcelona, Jordi HEREU, fired off the starting gun, setting the fleet on its way. The southwesterly breeze made for a downwind start, and with gennakers and spinnakers set, the fleet looked spectacular.
Crossing the starting line first was Educación sin Fronteras
, with local sailor Albert BARGUÉS and his co-skipper Servanne ESCOFFIER, at 26, the youngest sailor in the race. Nearly immediately following the start, PRB
roared off into the spectator fleet, flying along at 12 to 14 knots under spinnaker through the crowded waters. No collisions were reported, although several close calls certainly would have left hearts pounding.
By the first mark PRB
had grabbed an early lead over Hugo Boss
and Paprec-Virbac 2
. And Delta Dore
and Estrella Damm
were very close behind.
The Starting Line Gate
On the return pass through the starting line, just 48-minutes later, it was PRB
extending to lead by 6:38 over Delta Dore
. But Estrella Damm
, Mutua Madrileña
, Veolia Environnement
, and Paprec-Virbac 2
were all close behind. Then, Temenos II
and Hugo Boss
, which had lost significant ground with a troubled tack. Educación sin Fronteras
rounded out the fleet, some six minutes behind Boss
Starting line gate (ranking on the return through starting line with local time):
1. PRB 13:48:06
2. Delta Dore 13:54:44
3. Estrella Damm 13:56:00
4. Mutua Madrileña 13:56:08
5. Veolia Environnement 13:57:09
6. Paprec-Virbac 2 13:57:56
7. Temenos II 13:59:49
8. Hugo Boss 14:00:24
9. Educación sin Fronteras 14:06:27
And On Towards Gibraltar
The fleet had two more marks to leave to starboard before one final waypoint remained just off the port of Sitges, which is to be left to port. After passing that 'Estrella Damm buoy' the Barcelona World Race competitors will be free to find their best route to Gibraltar.
Tacking towards shore en route to Sitges, at 16:15 local time, PRB
still held the lead, with Veolia Environnement
, Estrella Damm
, Hugo Boss
, and Delta Dore
all giving chase close behind. The forecast is for lighter winds on Monday, so putting miles under the keel now is critical.
Polling data is kept from the sailors and the public overnight in order to allow teams to make tactical breaks without their rivals watching their every move. The first public position report will be at 07:00 local time on Monday morning.