In the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, MOD 70 Musandam-Oman Sail, skippered by Frenchman Sidney Gavignet, is now over 40 miles ahead of the Volvo 65 fleet and has averaged an astonishing 27 knots since the start. At that speed, Musandam-Oman Sail will finish the race in two days and 18 hours, smashing the race and course record.
The leading monohulls are a trio of Volvo 65s: Team Campos (ESP), skippered by Iker Martinez, holds a slender lead from Azzam (UAE), skippered by Britain's Ian Walker and Dongfeng (CHI), skippered by Frenchman Charles Caudrelier.
The race leader overall under IRC is Andrew Budgen and Fred Schwyn's Volvo 70, Monster Project, having pulled out an eight mile advantage on the water from Brian Thompson's IMOCA 60, Artemis - Team Endeavour. Brian Thompson contacted the race team at 1230 BST this afternoon; the Vendée Globe winner and solo round the world expert is not prone to exaggeration.
'Blasting past Beachy Head in sight of all the Volvos, Monster Project is just ahead. Musandam-Oman Sail was quite a sight blasting past us. We were happy to be first boat through the Forts and out of the Solent. Lots of water on deck - so much that two of our life jackets self-inflated!'
With wind reports of over well over 30 knots the fleet in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race are eating up the miles. Big conditions are expected in the North Sea tonight, with high winds and a significant sea sate affecting the progress of the entire fleet. Currently the North Sea is experiencing wind speeds in excess of 40 knots from the south west. There is a significant sea state emanating from the Norwegian coast with waves as high as eight metres. It is likely that the majority of the fleet will hug the eastern coast of the United Kingdom. However, inshore oil rig platforms and sand banks will pose navigational problems.
Cowes resident Jonny Malbon was the skipper of Artemis Ocean Racing, the overall winner of the 2010 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. Jonny is racing on Class40, Concise 8, and sent this video back from on board:
Abby Ehler was born in Plymouth and is no stranger to the Volvo Ocean Race. She was part of Amer Sports Too, the last all-female entry in the race. Abby spoke to the Royal Ocean Racing Club by satellite phone as the Volvo 65 SCA was hurtling past Dover.
'After training for over a year, it's pretty awesome to be lined up against so many other teams. It has been a heavy weather start, we have just gybed and we are back up to 25 knots, so it's very exciting right now. It's like being in a washing machine on a roller-coaster, the noise is pretty deafening and most of the time it is hard to hear each other but it is exhilarating. It was what we want and it will be like this in the Volvo Ocean Race- it's what it's all about. We are expecting a real tough first night with a lot of wind and obviously we are a bit nervous and anxious about what lies ahead but it is all about getting the basics right and sailing the boat safely. It is pretty wet and wild at the moment but we are expecting the worst of the weather tonight.'
Scandinavian by birth, Helen Liddell lives between the UK and Thailand. Her partner David regularly takes part in the King's Cup and raced in the 2009 Rolex Fastnet Race. Helen wanted to take part in a challenging race and thought the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race would be the ultimate challenge.
'The early conditions we have witnessed are making this a hard race and immediately more challenging than David's Fastnet,' commented Helen 'There should be some interesting banter once we are reunited! I looked at a few race charter options but decided on Scarlet Logic as the Oyster is well built and, over the last few years, has been very competitive. We should do well in the race.'
Scarlet Logic, Oyster 48 and Relentless on Jellyfish, J 122 - 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race - Rick Tomlinson - RORC
As Scarlet Logic powered past Ryde, they sent this blog back from the boat: 'Just touched 20.7 knots with a goose winged Oyster! Wind 37 knots. Great start, we flew down Solent. The huge 70 foot trimaran passed us, leaving a massive rooster spray from the one hull in the water. British Soldier did multiple broaches in front of us and an Open 40 blasted by on the plane. Volvo 65s came by like Formula 1 racing machines. Rainbow as shower came through. Ryde lit up in the sunshine.' Event website
13,000 armchair admirals are also tuned in to the race, with many more expected to join: Virtual Regatta