Sailing his 102 foot catamaran Doha, the 68 year old yachtsman crossed the start line between the Iron Pot Lighthouse and Pearson's Point marking the entrance to the River Derwent, at an effortless 16 knots, to quickly leave the flotilla of spectator craft in his wake.
BULLIMORE's team of helpers from the Bellerive Yacht Club, onboard to help hoist Doha's giant sails, had to wait 3 hours for the winds to fill in before completing their job and jumping ship to a fast adventure ferry. In the end, BULLIMORE had to accept a tow from the World Sailing Speed Record Council start boat, simply to get his engineless multihull close to the start area.
But then the winds filled in at 15:30 local time, Doha's big headsail was unfurled, and BULLIMORE took off for the line chased by a fleet of fast pleasure boats, and he was on his way. Doha was timed across the line at 05:50:09 UTC (15:50 local) speeding through the flat seas at 16 knots. Within minutes, she was topping 21 knots in just 18 knots of breeze.
The forecast last night was for winds to build to 25 knots, gusting to 35 knots which could prove something of a baptism of fire for BULLIMORE at the start of this 70-day challenge. 'It is lucky that I have a full moon tonight which will help me to get acclimatised, but Wednesday could bring even stronger winds as I head down around New Zealand's South Island,' he said via satellite phone. 'I plan to throw in a couple of reefs later this evening in preparation for these stronger winds, so that I am fully prepared.'
The Record To Beat
Record: Round the world, non-stop, singlehanded
Skipper: Ellen MACARTHUR (GBR)
Dates: 28 November 2004-7 February 2005
Elapsed time: 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds
Distance: 21,760 nm
Average speed: 12.66 kts