The North Sea Tall Ships Regatta got under way today at 1400hrs local some five miles off Hartlepool. Winds had been light as the fleet headed out to the start area but picked up just before the start with north-westerly Force 4-5 winds that helped the fleet across the start line in spectacular fashion.
First across the line after just one minute was the Dutch ship Stad Amsterdam (pictured), looking stunning as she sailed across the line in full sail doing around 7 knots. Less than a minute behind her was Astrid (Netherlands) with Stavros S Niarchos (UK) crossing in third place.
The first Class B vessel across the start line was Aglaia (Austria) with Tecla (Netherlands) and Gallant (Netherlands) close behind.
Spaniel (Latvia) was very quickly across the start line to lead the Class C vessels, with Rona II (UK) and Dar Szczecina (Poland) crossing second and third respectively.
Endorfina (Poland) was first across the line for the Class D vessels, with Urania (Netherlands) in second and Lietuva (Lithuania) in third.
The sky cleared for a short while as the ten Class A vessels crossed the line with most of the square rigged vessels looking as if they were taking the option to head north-easterly towards waypoint G. The rest of the fleet appeared to be heading towards the northerly waypoint B although a lot depends on the weather conditions.
This race differs from the usual Tall Ships Races run by Sail Training International in that the aim of this event is to cover the maximum distance in 120 hours. Captains are free to choose their own route to sail, passing waypoints as they go.
The first position report will be given tomorrow morning to allow the fleet time to pass at least one waypoint. However, the fleet can be tracked using the Yellowbrick satellite tracking system
which updates every four hours.
The North Sea Tall Ships Regatta is organised by Sail Training International.