If the conditions at the start of the ARC are a foretaste of the entire Atlantic crossing, then many crews will probably experience Christmas on board. 190 yachts from 23 nations struggled to cross the start line off Las Palmas in swell and calm.
The Volvo Ocean Race Yacht "Amer Sport One" came off best, which had only arrived in Las Palmas the night before the start and was able to finish the safety check at the last minute. She chases the record of 11 days and 13 hours set in 2003 by "Spirit", one of two other VOR 60 yachts.
But also the only German yacht "HaspHamburg" launched in the Racer Division, with its young crew from the Hamburgischer Verein Seefahrt, was able to put itself in the limelight early on in the difficult conditions. But then she fell back after changing the headsail.
The giants of the fleet crossed the line ten minutes after the racers, especially Peter Harrison's 115-foot two-master. The British billionaire, who has just announced the end of his America's Cup Syndicate, wants to take a break from the frustrating sponsorship talks on the Atlantic cruise.
The bulk of the yachts later crossed the line. Many driving crews started the engine to escape the crowd. Even half an hour after the start, most of the field was still drifting near the launch ship used by the Spanish Navy.
2,700 nautical miles lie ahead of the crews until they have reached St. Luciin in the Caribbean. Most are expected after 16 to 21 days.