Thousands wave goodbye in Southampton

The Clipper 2011-2012 fleet sailed the first of its 40,000 miles yesterday from Southampton, the first time a round-the-world race has started in the Solent since 2004.

HMS Illustrious was among the hundreds of boats waving off the ten yachts from the water with thousands of other spectators lining Ocean Village.

Almost 500 people will take part in the race, with participation ranging from complete circumnavigations to single legs.

The first leg heads to Rio de Janeiro via Madeira. Thereafter the race stops in Cape Town, Western Australia, New Zealand, the Gold Coast in Australia, Singapore, China, California, Panama, New York, Nova Scotia, Derry-Londonderry and Den Helder in the Netherlands, before returning to Southampton next July.

Team Gold Coast Australia led the opening miles, but light winds mid-Channel has shaken-up the order and at 0600 the Aussie challenger had dropped to sixth with Visit Finland and Welcome to Yorkshire heading up the field. However, the fleet is separated by just 12 miles and the leg has 1250 miles to go.

Click here for the race’s latest positions.

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Photo credit: onEdition.