Due to extreme weather conditions the race start of the Clipper 2002 eleven-month circumnavigation, from Albert Dock, Liverpool, to the Cascais stopover in Portugal, was rescheduled from yesterday to 1430 GMT today.
Clipper Ventures plc, race organisers, reached a joint decision to postpone the race start after advice from the Liverpool Port Authority and following close liaison with Liverpool City Council.
Race Chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, said: "This was a joint decision taken by Clipper and our partners in Liverpool. The safety of our crews and supporters is paramount and today's advice was quite clear."
Captain Ron Telfer of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, added: "In light of the extreme conditions in the Mersey River and harbour entrance this was a very sound decision based on safety considerations."
The eight Clipper racing yachts, representing Liverpool, London, New York, Bristol, Glasgow, Jersey, Cape Town and Hong Kong will slip from Albert Dock at midday and proceed into Canning Half Tide Dock, before the gruelling 35,000-mile race begins in the Mersey at 14:30.
A 10-minute countdown will lead up to the big event, which will be started by 14-year-old Francesca D'arcy, a city council competition winner.
As a treat to those lining the Mersey, the yachts will pass the famous Pier Head in formation flanked by HMS Biter and Charger, training vessels for Liverpool and Manchester University. The international Clipper fleet will then race up and down the river three times, before heading out into the Irish Sea for the Cascais Stopover in Portugal and eventually onto Cuba on the first of the six race legs.