The fleet took off in a beautiful sunset with a light breeze of 6.5 knots from the southwest. According to the weather forecast, the wind will drop overnight. The participants are heading towards two buoys one third of the way down the course. They mark the most northerly point of the route. From there they will beat back south towards the finish. With these conditions it is unlikely that the record of 10 hours and 29 minutes, set by VO60 Pleomax in 2008, will be broken.
The Delta Lloyd North Sea Regatta is open to IRC and ORC yachts so the fleet started in three groups: ORC 3-4-5, IRC/ORC 2 en IRC/ORC 1. There are some 2008-winners among the participants, like the Dutch students of Delft Challenge who won the IRC 1 class. The local team FRD-Xperience of skipper John van der Starre (NED) finished first in the IRC 2.
Former winner Kees Kaan (NED), skipper of Roark, is also aiming for another victory in the IRC 1. He will have to battle new competitors as well, such as the Split2nd of David de Graaf (NED) and Yan Trouwen (BEL). Sports reporter and offshore sailor Hans Bouscholte (NED) is among their crew. Antares of Frans Winterswijk, winner of his class in the last Rolex Fastnet Race, is favorite for a podium finish under ORC.
Following the Vuurschepenrace, there is a rest day in Harwich before the IRC and ORC classes return to the Netherlands on Friday 22 May, in the RORC's North Sea Race. Then over the Whitsun weekend, from 29 May until 1 June, more than 26 classes race off the Scheveningen coast. Several disciplines will be competing: big yachts, Olympic classes, catamarans, open boats and surfers.