Cheers rang out this morning as the fleet of Global Challenge race yachts passed up the Thames and under Tower Bridge

Cheers rang out this morning as the Challenge fleet passed through Tower Bridge. The twelve boats, having motored in formation from the Thames Barrier, broke into a single line to process through the span. Supporters lined the parapets as the yachts passed through, mainsails up, to circuit the river between Tower and London bridges until the bridge opened to allow them back down the river and into St. Katharine’s Dock.

On board, the final few hours of the voyage were rather more gentle than the first. A slackening breeze and the realisation that the fleet would be hard pressed to make their 0230 rendezvous at Sea Reach No.4 buoy forced the decision to down sails and motor, head to wind and tide, passing through the Goodwins via the Gull Channel and considerably shortening the distance to be run. Helming ‘Save the Children’ up the Prince’s Channel and into the Thames was a sheer delight, the reassuring lights of the buoys winking in the darkness and the moon occasionally breaking through the cloud cover to lay a silver track across the water.

Passing through the Thames Barrier at 0645, the fleet motored passed the Millennium Dome and the Naval College to be met by the fans at Tower Bridge. After completing the procession, the boats locking through into St. Katharine’s Dock were each met by three cheers and a champagne shower from enthusiastic supporters. The team spirit on board ‘Save the Children’ was fantastic throughout the voyage, and judging from the reactions of the other crews this was true for all the boats. The race promises to be very interesting: most of the skippers are firm friends outside Global Challenge, and this sense of the wider team alongside the competitive nature of the sport could make this event great fun for both participants and onlookers alike. I feel privileged to have been a part of it.