It is known as the toughest sailing race in the world. The Volvo Ocean Race begins tomorrow - and for the first time in 12 years an all-female crew will compete for the title. The sailors - many of whom are from the south coast - are currently preparing for the race start at the Spanish port of Alicante, from where Sally Simmonds reports.
The Volvo Ocean Race leaves Alicante this weekend. We will have a full package later - this is a preview.
Many who take to the water rely on the RNLI lifeboats to come to their aid if they get into trouble - including professional sailors. Now one of them, Hannah White, is hoping to help the RNLI by rowing from the West of the country to the East - ending in Gravesend. And she's doing it in a kayak. Hannah joined Fred from our London studio.
Video of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland fleet setting off from Cowes this morning and racing up the Channel. Interviews with Dee Caffari from Team SCA and Ian Walker from Team Abu Dhabi - both Hampshire sailors taking part in this event and the Volvo Ocean Race in October
You can follow the progress of the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland race fleet on the organiser's race tracker here
The flotilla of 28 yachts are now heading east along the south coast after departing the Solent this morning . The 1,800 mile race around Britain and Ireland set off from the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes with a stiff southwesterly wind and a good tide, allowing the yachts to fly their spinnakers.
At 1130 the fleet past Selsey Bill, with over 30 knots of breeze. Musandam-Oman Sail, skippered by Sidney Gavignet, has averaged 30 knots of boat speed since the start and is on course to finish the race in two and a half days, smashing the course record, if these conditions prevail.
Five Volvo 65s are taking part in the event - the first time the teams have raced against each other ahead of the Volvo Ocean Race which starts in October. They screamed through the start line with Team SCA, skippered by Sam Davies, getting the best start. Team Dongfeng, skippered by Frenchman Charles Caudrelier, was just in the lead at 1100am. Three teams have taken the lead in the Volvo 65 class in the first two hours, a pattern that may well continue right through the race.
The third day of racing at the Aquece Rio venue in the shadow of Sugar Loaf Mountain in Rio Janeiro, Brazil, saw a range of conditions with wind and waves on the outside courses and tricky breeze inside Guanabara Bay.
A 15 knot south westerly breeze worked its way across the five race areas with outside courses Copacabana and Niteroi experiencing a stable breeze and wild waves. Inside Guanabara Bay was a different story with an up and down breeze that tested the sailors across Pão de Açucar, Ponte and Escola Naval.
In the women's 470 class, Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, from Hampshire, took the first race victory of the day and sit second overall following a 3-7. ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (NZL) are third overall, tied with the Brits on four points.
In the men's 470 Luke Patience and Elliot Willis (GBR) sit in third after winning the second race in their class. Giles Scott (GBR) moved into pole position in the Finn fleet following a fifth, a race win and a second. The British sailor has a four point advantage over overnight leader Jorge Zarif (BRA) who discards a 14th and counts two fifth places from three races on Ponte.
Determined 'Sip and Puff’ sailor Natasha 'Miss Isle’ Lambert arrived in Falmouth twith a huge smile on her face after a day of champagne sailing in sunshine and good breeze.
The 17-year-old from the Isle of Wight, who has cerebral palsy and controls her boat by breathing through a straw in a specially-engineered bicycle helmet, is eight legs into her 12-leg sailing challenge and was delighted to be sailing with more power as she completed the 22 miles from Fowey in five hours.
Sea and Summit is Natasha’s biggest challenge yet - a month-long project sailing her specially-designed 21ft yacht, single-handed around the South West coast of England to Wales before she swaps her boat for her special walking aid, called a Hart Walker, to climb Pen y Fan, the highest peak in Southern Britain.
Video. It's been a lovely warm and sunny day but the weather hasn't been kind to the sailors taking part in this years Round the Island yacht race.
Richard Slee reports.