New York could not have laid on better conditions for today’s Hugo Boss Watches Manhattan Charity Race Day.

With the sun made a welcome appearance after yesterday’s fog, the pinnacles of Manhattan’s imposing skyline revealed themselves. The four IMOCA 60s started their race at midday from a line in the Hudson River, directly off North Cove Marina, within the shadow of the magnificent new 104 story One World Trade Centre.

As Maite Fandos, Deputy Mayor of Barcelona, signalled for the start canon to be fired, conditions were exceedingly light out on the Hudson. Fortunately the four IMOCA 60s were helped across the line by a two knot ebb current as they headed off on a 15 mile course, down past the Statue of Liberty and on in the direction of the harbour entrance before returning back up to the harbour to a mark near the start and on around a second lap.

With the fleet spreading out across the Hudson River soon after the start, each of the four boats had its moment as the new breeze slowly filled in just as the boats were level with Battery Park. It was Hugo Boss that edged into it first and was then away.

“It was great today,” commented American co-skipper Ryan Breymaier. “In Manhattan with the Hugo Boss team, what a successful day, just unbelievable! We had great weather for it, super light at the beginning, but we managed to get a decent start and when the breeze filled in we collected it just before everyone else, got a little way away and that was the end of it. Two laps later we were still ahead.”

Hugo Boss may have initially performed a ‘horizon job’ on the fleet, but the race was far from processional. As the breeze went through its transition after the start, GAES Centros Auditivos was looking good. Co-skipper Gerard Marin explained: “We were leading, but we made a mistake with a mark, that wasn’t a proper mark of the course.” They were forced to return to round the mark correctly but this put them into last place. “After that we decided to relax a little and let the guests enjoy the racing, steer the boat, etc.”

Despite the boats only being allowed to use their furling headsails today, some still had issues and on the second beat the Code 0 began to unwind on Neutrogena.

“It was a shame about the problem with our Code 0,” said Spanish co-skipper Guillermo Altadill. “We had to bear away, unfurl it and then furl it again. After that we lost our attacking options on Hugo Boss.”

This upset allowed the French crew on Safran to claim second briefly before Neutrogena recovered it, leaving Marc Guillemot and Morgan Lagraviere’s boat to come home in third.

“We were many people on board – 12 people,” explained Guillemot. “That is quite unusual for this boat, but at least our guests enjoyed an extraordinary sailing session in New York Harbour, something you don’t get to do every day. We mostly concentrated on taking pleasure being at sea.”

While Hugo Boss’ victory today was good for morale, the team having only recently recovered from their dismasting, it was today mainly about showing the guests a good time.

Star on board Hugo Boss was Jimmy Graham, the 27 year old NFL tight end for the New Orleans Saints. Graham said that this was his first sailing experience in many years – as a child in North Carolina he had grown up sailing on the IntraCoastal Waterway in a dinghy.

“I used to sail a boat that was about one one hundredth the size of this and much much slower. Today was amazing, an experience I’ll never forget. I am definitely hooked on the sailing now. It is going to be another obsession of mine – which is good and bad! This boat [Hugo Boss] is so special and so fast. It’s an amazing vessel, built for pure speed. You can feel that when you’re on it.”

However Graham was put to work, as he explained; “Since I’m bigger than everybody, I was on the grinder and any time a rope or a sail was moved, I was moving it! So it was a special experience and hopefully sometime I could have a go at it in the open water when we’ll have 30 knots of wind and big waves!”

His Hugo Boss team mates were impressed with their new 6ft 7in tall grinder. As Spanish co-skipper Pepe Ribes put it: “I have never seen such a powerful grinder. He never seemed to get tired – I got tired just watching him!”

The Hugo Boss Watches prize for winning today was US$10,000, which could be donated to the charity of choice for the victorious team. Hugo Boss’ choice was Angel Flight, an international agency whose members provide free transportation for needy patients and perform other missions of community service.

As Jimmy Graham put it: “Angel Flight is an organisation that transports sick child to places where they can get better healthcare. I am very excited about that and it is near to my heart, because I am a pilot too.”

Sir Keith Mills, Founder and Chairman of Open Sports Management, which holds the commercial rights for the IMOCA class and is organiser of the Ocean Masters New York to Barcelona Race, commented: “Today was really exciting – a perfect day with a nice breeze and a inshore race around the Statue of Liberty, which bodes well for a great start on Sunday. Everyone had a great day.

“When we signed our deal with IMOCA it was about bringing more international teams and more international races. This is the first race in which we have been able to do that – and it was a great way to show off these boats and IMOCA 60 racing in an amazing venue like New York. This will be hopefully the start of lots of things like this yet to come.”

Start time: 12:10 ET

Finish times:

1.Hugo Boss – 14:30:30

2.Team Neutrogena – 14:36:00

3.Safran – 14:40:10

4.Gaes Centros Auditivos – 14:41:10