CRACKNELL commented, ''I'm full of admiration for those who are taking part in the challenge - I'm sure it'll be a life changing experience and wish them all the very best of luck.'
Qingdao Clipper, skippered by 35 year old Danny WATSON, led the fleet across the line closely followed by New York and then Jersey Clipper. All the skippers decided to opt for the number one yankee headsail in the light breeze, apart from Graeme JOHNSTON and his crew on Glasgow who stood out from the crowd with their larger genoa.
The new fleet of identical Clipper 68 yachts, each named after their international sponsor, set sail following a spectacular send off from Liverpool's Albert Dock. Thousands of spectators lined to banks of the River Mersey to watch the yachts cross the start line after months of training and preparation.
Among the gathered crowds were many of the crew's family and friends as they waved their loved ones farewell ahead of their ten month voyage around the world. Some of the ports of call on the way include Durban, South Africa; Perth, Western Australia; Qingdao, China; Victoria, Canada; New York, USA; Jersey and Singapore.
Sir Robin KNOX-JOHNSTON (GBR), founder and Chairman of Clipper Ventures PLC commented, 'It's a joy to see these great adventurers set off in such magnificent scenes. We wish them fair winds, the best of luck and a safe race around the world.'
After a brief stop-over in Cascais, Portugal the teams cross the Atlantic as they make their way down to Salvador in Brazil. This will be the first of three Atlantic crossings in the challenging race around the globe.
After the initial thrash down the Irish Sea and Saint George's Channel the fleet has been through a period of light and flukey winds as they leave British waters. In many ways this is much harder sailing than the strong wind conditions, as the crews have far more options open to them, and the sail changes will be coming thick and fast.
The three current front runners, Western Australia, Liverpool and Durban Clippers, are very close, both geographically and in terms of distance to finish. This means that they will be experiencing very similar conditions, and so the major difference in boat speed will be down to the way the skippers and crews work their boats.