Crossing the start line at 12:00 hrs in 8-10 knots of northerly breeze, it was Team Plymouth skipper Sam Goodchild who started his fourth assault on the Solitaire du Figaro with a bang, rounding the first mark in 5th place before leading the fleet for a short time north across the English Channel.
Click image for a larger image
Meanwhile, 2014 British Solitaire Rookies Rich Mason (Artemis 77), Alan Roberts (Artemis 23) and Sam Matson (Artemis 21) put in a promising performance while making their Solitaire du Figaro debut.
Rounding the first race mark the first, second and third Rookies of seven and inside the top 20 boats ahead of a number of more experienced skippers – including graduates Henry Bomby (RED), Jack Bouttell (GAC Pindar) and REDSHIFT skipper Nick Cherry and Ed Hill (Macmillan Cancer Support) who were both OCS alongside double Solitaire du Figaro winner Yann Elies and 2012 Transat AG2R winner Charlie Dalin.
The 2014 Solitaire du Figaro covers 2,014 miles over four legs, concluding early July in Cherbourg, France.
This 45th edition of the race, has the biggest and strongest line up of British sailors the Solitaire has ever seen, with eight British boats on the start line and a strong British flavor to the race with seven channel crossings and a UK stop over in Plymouth.
For now the fleet continue north on an 80-mile upwind stretch to Owers mark, led by Erwan Taberly (Armor Lux Comptoir de la Mer) and Anthony Marchand (Ovimpex Secours Populairs) – practically neck and neck.
Team Plymouth’s Sam Goodchild is still hanging on in there with the leading pack, positioned on the right side of the fleet, while the rest of the Brit pack play mid-fleet going into the first night. With a long and drawn out race ahead of them, good onboard management and a clear head will be important when it comes to making game changing tactical decisions later in the leg.
The current ETA for the fleet in Plymouth is Thursday, 12 June at midday.
8 June 2014 22:11 GMT