Thirteen open-class racing yachts--seven in Class I for 50- to 60-footers, six in Class II for 40- to 50-footers--crossed the start line without incident. Aboard my radical Groupe Finot-designed Open 50, Tommy Hilfiger Freedom America, I felt the pressure to push my red, white, and blue raceboat under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge ahead of the pack, but common sense prevailed. After all, there was a long way to go. So, sailing conservatively through the busy New York waters, I tacked my way under the bridge, out past the Ambrose Light tower, and into the relative freedom of the North Atlantic Ocean. The first of five legs would take us to Torbay, England, some 3,000 miles over the horizon.