Clipper Race fleet starts 5,500 mile from California New York via the Panama Canal

The ten strong fleet competing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race left Jack London Square in Oakland today with hundreds of fans cheering them on in the warm spring sunshine, before heading out to San Francisco Bay for the start line escorted by US Coast Guard cutter Sockeye.

Friends, family members and supporters gathered to watch from the Golden Gate Yacht Club, home of the 34th America’s Cup, which kindly provided facilities to start the race from their deck at 14.00 local (21.00 UTC).

There was a highly charged competitive atmosphere out on the water in the shadow of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. So much so that three boats crossed the line prematurely and were ordered to circle back to cross it again.

This gave Visit Finland an early lead, hotly pursued by the only US entry New York and the Chinese team from the Olympic sailing city of Qingdao as they jostled for position racing under the bridge, back out into the Pacific Ocean, and head south towards Panama.

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