In the lead was New Zealander Charles Crichton Brown's Maximus, which had been making a steady 10 knots in just six knots of wind across the Celtic Sea, followed by Australia's Grant Wharington in Wild Thing.
But the third top contender, Bouwe Bekking in the first Volvo Open 70 movistar to be seen racing, had to battle against rival skipper Mike "Moose" Sanderson in Pindar. Sanderson, partnered by Emma Richards with some of the most senior lieutenants from his ABN-Amro Volvo boat, was leading the 60s, a mile and a half ahead of French rival Roland Jourdain on Sill.
"It has been awesome racing," he said last night. "We never stopped, even if the wind was very light at times, and we have been battling with Sill, crossing tacks ever since the start in Cowes. But it's pretty glassy out here and, with 400 miles to go, it is still totally anyone's race. All the 60s are in the hunt."
Only two of the 283 starters are reported to have retired after minor crew injuries.