Entrant sinks in Lyme Bay; more than 10 other retirees, but Gee, the oldest boat in the race, comes first in its class

The opening day of the first Round Britain Race since 1984 has been an incident-packed affair.

The first leg, a 130nm roar across Lyme Bay from Portsmouth to Plymouth, saw more than 10 boats in the 47-strong fleet put into harbour after various mishaps, but that was nothing compared to the fate of entrant Blue Marlin.

While crossing Lyme Bay the Supermarine Swordfish sprang a leak and sank, forcing the crew into a liferaft. The four on board were unharmed, and were picked up by a fellow competitor. The boat is considered a total loss.

Fabio Buzzi, the Italian winner of the last RBR, didn’t even get off the start line after striking the submarine barrier in Portsmouth Harbour. He smashed his rudder and one of his propellers.

Another favourite for the title, Austrian Hannes Bohinc, blew his engines in the first few miles and was forced to retire.

Both Buzzi and Bohinc will now work through the night to get their boats ready for tomorrow.

747, a Fairey Spearfish, was forced to put into Weymouth after one of its crew broke a rib.

And Garmin Racing, the Hunton carrying TV presenter Nick Knowles, was hit with mechanical problems.

It was good news, though, for the crew of Racing Silverline, which covered the 130nm of the first leg in less than three hours, 10 minutes ahead of the next boat.

Gee, the oldest boat in the race, entered Plymouth just after 2pm, comfortably ahead of the rest of its class. The crew of Gee is blogging exclusively for MBM throughout the race, and below you can read the impressions of Mark Clayton, one of three brothers that brought the Jim Wynn-designed boat back from the dead.

“It’s been a great race so far. We went through the Needles instead of going through the Sands, and met up with the German boat, Blue Marlin. We passed it but as we passed, they stopped. We thought they had engine trouble, but have found out since they actually sank and had to get in a liferaft. Our run was very good and we got in at just after 2pm. Gee handled the rough weather very well, but we probably needed more weight in the front. We lost our trim tabs after the Needles, and need to get them sorted. There was heavy weather in places and a few times we were out of the water, with a few slams. But we’ve done brilliantly, and were first in by a few hours in front of anyone else in the Historic Class. There must have been only 10 boats in by time we came in. As head of our class, we got on the podium and won a prize. The start was incredible, and we had helicopters almost on our radar arch taking photos. There was a little bit of rain, and some spitting near the end. It was probably force 4-ish, but Gee held up and proved she’s a great boat. We were there on the submarine barrier – they told us we must start there – and heard a thump, but fortunately we were ok. Quite an adventurous day with what was going on. But fantastic. Just fuelling up now.”

For more on Gee, see July’s MBM, out now. For more on the race, head here .

Photo: Gee on the first leg from Portsmouth to Plymouth