Sydney: Australia Test and ODI captain Michael Clarke has set sail in his first major ocean race.
Morning rainsqualls cleared just prior to the start of the race in Sydney Harbour as the record-breaking supermaxi Wild Oats X1 lead the 56-strong fleet out Sydney Heads .
Despite admitting that he was way out of his comfort zone aboard good mate Anthony Bell`s 100-footer Perpetual Loyal, Clarke appeared relaxed and happy before the start, waving to family, friends and media as the boat limbered up.
Clarke, who has a shark phobia, said that this is something that would really challenge him and he does like to be challenged.
Wild Oats, which got a gun start when the cannon fired on Saturday, holds the race record for the 384 nautical mile race of 22hrs 3mins 46 seconds.
The Mark Richard`s captained Wild Oats and Bells Loyal are meeting for the first time in anger since last year`s Sydney to Hobart.
Bell managed to lure Clarke aboard his ocean prowler for this race as he sails to raise money and awareness for children`s charities via the Loyal Foundation, as the Australian skipper is a big supporter of children`s charities.