Half an hour later, the teams left the dock and headed towards the start line in Charleston Harbour off the Maritime Centre. With the start procedure overseen by Bob Bowden, Race Officer of the Charleston Ocean Racing Association (CORA), at 1030 local (1430 UTC) Felipe Cubillos and José Muñoz on Desafio Cabo de Hornos were first across the line followed by Boris Herrmann and Felix Oehme on Beluga Racer with solo sailor Michel Kleinjans on Roaring Forty in third and the British duo of Jeremy Salvesen and David Thomson on Team Mowgli in fourth sailing into 15 knots of southerly breeze.
While the Chileans on Desafio Cabo de Hornos kept offshore after the start, the remaining three boats benefited from a lift inshore and by the first turning mark the German team on Beluga Racer were first to round hoisting their spinnaker, followed by Desafio Cabo de Hornos, Roaring Forty and Team Mowgli. Just as the spinnakers were set, an enormous thundercloud passed over Charleston, sucking any breeze from the harbour leaving the fleet to drift north at speeds of around one knot before picking up the pace.
The first man made target for the fleet is the Leg 5 scoring gate approximately 1,600 miles north-east of Charleston and slightly under 500 miles south-east of Newfoundland. The gate runs north-south for 120 miles at 45°W and is place directly beneath the Leg 5 ice limit running for 520 miles west-east on latitude 41°N. For the first two to three days of Leg 5, good conditions are expected with a forecast of 15-25 knots of southwesterly breeze.