The Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race got under way in Wicklow harbour this afternoon.
Three of the fastest trimaran yachts in the world are among 63 vessels taking part.
The boats will sail south on the 1,130 km journey around Ireland.
The race can take up to seven days to complete for some competitors but the larger trimarans are expected to arrive back in Wicklow bay as early as Monday.
It is also anticipated that the 2008 speed record of 65 hours, 48 minutes and 47 seconds could be broken this year.
Race organiser Theo Phelan from Wicklow Sailing Club said the main concern now is getting everyone back safe and sound.
"This may be a year of new records, but the main concern of the Race Office is that everyone returns back to Wicklow safe and sound. Then we'll sit back and celebrate," he said.
Viewers can follow the progress of the race at: http://yb.tl/wicklowroundireland2016