The50th Tall Ships race started with a royal send-off from Devon yesterday

The 50th Tall Ships race fleet was given a royal send-off from Devon yesterday. Race patron the Duke of Edinburgh, who was patron for the inaugural event, travelled to Torquay to meet the crews yesterday before the 1500 (BST) start.

He may not have seen any familiar faces from the 1956 race, but he would have recognised several tall ships that competed in it. The size of this year’s fleet is so large that it was not able to gather for pre-race ceremonies in and around the River Dart, Torbay as it did 50 years ago.

The Duke reviewed the entire fleet at the start area five miles off Torbay from a Royal Navy ship. He then gave the signal for the start of the race.

The first leg will take the boats to Lisbon, where the fleet will have some respite from racing, cruising in company to Spain before beginning a second race to Belgium. A commemorative ceremony will be held in Antwerp to mark the anniversary.