At 10:50 local time, the Saluting Battery at the Upper Barracca high up in the Maltese capital of Valetta, signaled the start of the 33rd Rolex Middle Sea Race.
Thousands of spectators crowded the bastions to watch the start of the race, with many thousands more tuning in to the live Maltese television transmission on TVM2.
A record entry of 84 yachts from 19 different countries started the 606-mile race. Bright sunshine and a brisk south easterly breeze of 12 knots carried the yachts out of Grand Harbour without any major incidents. For some it will be five days and nights before they complete the course and return to Malta.
The Rolex Middle Sea Race tracker and blog is now active and regular reports will appear on the official web site.