The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race boats have started the iconic Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, for the first time in the events 18-year history.
GREAT Britain was the first of the Clipper Race teams to cross the start line, followed by Henri Lloyd and Qingdao.
Overall race leaders Henri Lloyd went round the first mark ahead of GREAT Britain with Qingdao third and PSP Logistics fourth.
The 12-strong Clipper 70 fleet are competing in three classes – the IRC handicap class, Race 6 of the Clipper Round the World Race and the Clipper One Design class that has been created for Clipper by race organisers the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA).
The Clipper 70s and two Clipper 68 yachts left from the middle start line of Sydney Harbour at 1300 local Australian time with 83 other yachts spread over three start lines.
Sydney skipper, Chris Hollis, of PSP Logistics, is doing his third Sydney Hobart. Ahead of the race he said: “We are ready to race and everyone is really excited. No one is nervous – we are ready to perform really well. We have had a meeting about performance and evaluating ourselves and we want to settle in really quickly as soon as we are out of Sydney Heads and make the most of the race.”
Two of the Clipper Race yachts participating had a minor touch approaching one of the marks at Sydney Heads. Switzerland touched Mission Performance and took a 720 degree penalty as per the RSHYR Sailing Instructions. There was only superficial damage and both yachts continue to race.