The Tall Ships' Races 2008 got off to a great start on 23rd July at 1500 hrs local. The start line was established approximately two hours before the scheduled start time with the RFA Lyme Bay as the committee boat, HMS Merseyas the end of the line vessel and HMS Grimsby the No Go zone.
Weather and Sea conditions were almost perfect with a wind from the South East and a strength of 12 to 16 knots. The sea was calm with a slight swell from the North and the tide was setting to the East at a rate of 1.5 to 2 knots. The sky was almost clear of clouds and the whole area was bathed in sunshine giving good visibility.
Class A start saw a very competitive start with Dar Mlodziezy (Poland) starting first, closely followed by Eendracht (Netherlands) and then Cuauhtemoc (Mexico).
Class B again was also very competitive and close to the committee boat. Jolly Brise (UK) had to slow down before crossing the start line in front of Stina Mari (Norway) who was closely followed by Etoile (France) who crossed the line in third place at the other end of the line.
Class C start was a little more sedate and spread out along the line. Spaniel (Latvia) crossed the start line first at the other end of the line, Esprit (Germany)was second across the line in the centre, while Ocean Spirit of Moray(UK) chose the committee boat end and crossed in third place.
The Class D start was with spinnakers flying. First to set their spinnaker was Urania (Netherlands) but they were beaten to the line by St Barbara V (UK). Urania crossed in second followed by Akela (Russia).
The line was broken soon after the last vessel had crossed the start line and the start team were transferred by boat from the RFA Lyme Bay to the smaller vessel HMS Grimsby and then to shore. Alexander von Humboldt takes over the lead on corrected time!
At the 1700 hrs GMT report Alexander von Humboldt (Germany) has taken the lead on corrected time, in front of Christian Radich (Norway) and Sorlandet(Norway). Alexander von Humboldt has however taken a more westerly route which may mean this good placing is short lived.
On the water the Class C vessels are leading, with Alba Explorer (UK) in the lead, Ocean Spirit of Moray (UK) in second and Spaniel (Latvia) in third. A little way behind them is a group of Class A ships, including Christian Radich, Mir (Russia) and Dar Mlodziezy (Poland).
On corrected time, Class B is being led by the Norwegian Stina Mari with Far Barcelona (Spain) in second place and Jens Krogh (Denmark) in third. Alba Explorer is not only leading on the water but also in Class C on corrected time. Behind her is Black Diamond of Durham (UK) with Ocean Spirit of Moray (UK) in third. Class D on corrected time is now being led by Hebe III (Czech Republic) with Assasain II (UK) in second and Rona II (UK) in third.
Weather has become light and variable meaning the average speed has reduced considerably for the majority of the fleet. The winds are however due to increase again tomorrow afternoon. As the fleet head for the north of Scotland, the challenge will only get harder! The Tall Ships' Races 2008 are organised by Sail Training International and supported by Antwerp. http://www.tallshipsracesbergen.no/