The much-anticipated start of the DaimlerChrysler North Atlantic Challenge began on Saturday afternoon (June 14) in Newport, R.I. when the fleet of 58 international yachts set off for Cuxhaven, Germany, and on to Hamburg.
The once-in-a-lifetime race across the North Atlantic will take competitors 3,600 nautical miles around the Northern end of the British Isles and into the Elbe River to the finish. The race is organized by the Norddeutscher Regatta Verein, of Hamburg, with the support of the New York Yacht Club (NYYC). A second fleet of five boats will start on Saturday, June 21.
Hundreds of spectators took to Newport Harbour and the seawall surrounding historic Fort Adams to witness the one of the largest fleets ever assembled for a transatlantic race. Under the expert eye of the NYYC race committee, Class I started at 2:00 p.m. with Zaraffa, the Reichel/Pugh 65 owned by Huntington "Skip" Sheldon of Shelburne, Vt., taking a commanding lead of the 26-boat fleet. The 32 yachts in Class II started ten minutes later. All yachts are equipped with InmarSat D+ tracking devices and hourly positions will be broadcast on the event's website at the address below.
Ten countries are represented in the fleet: Antigua, Belgium, Canada, Grand Cayman, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and United States.
After finishing, the yachts will continue onto Hamburg, where the city is hosting a maritime festival to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Hamburgischer Verein Seefahrt, a long-standing sailing club based in Hamburg, GER. Over 150,000 visitors per day are expected in the historic seaport during the weeklong celebration