The largest fleet in the Fastnet Race’s 90-year history set sail on Sunday for the famous 603-nautical mile offshore race to Plymouth via Ireland’s Fastnet rock.

Progress at the start was slow, with the 356 race starters forced to find the merest zephyr of breeze during one of the lightest starts in the race’s history.

Fortunately a building breeze saw the fleet make good progress on exiting the Solent.

Progress overnight in the Rolex Fastnet Race was better than expected with the majority of the fleet lured out into the middle of the Channel by stronger winds.

To date there has just been one retirement – American Bryon Ehrhart’s Reichel Pugh 63 Lucky, recent winner of the Transatlantic Race. She went aground on the Shingles while exiting the Solent yesterday afternoon and had to accept outside assistance to be towed off.

Today’s forecast was not good with the lobe of high pressure due to expand creating a windless zone between the Scilly Isles and the Lizard.

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The famous biennial race is organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club.