The New Zealand entry Camper made the best start on the opening leg of the Volvo Ocean Race as the six teams contesting the eight-month, 39,000 nautical mile event set off from Alicante, Spain, bound for Cape Town.
Camper had opened a lead over Puma Ocean Racing of the United States of one minute 39 seconds at the leaving mark at the end of the eight-mile course, with Spain's Team Telefonica another 36 seconds behind.
Abu Dhabi were next, followed by Groupama of France, who took a voluntary two-turn penalty following a collision with Puma just before the start.
China's Team Sanya were sixth.
The latest edition of the race, which began as the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973 and is considered one of the toughest challenges in sport, is expected to be fiercely contested following changes to the rules designed to create a more level playing field.
The race ends in Galway, Ireland in July next year after taking in ports including Abu Dhabi, Sanya in China, Auckland and Itaja in Brazil.