Queen's Cup Balloon Race takes off from Bristol

Thirteen teams competing in the Queen's Cup Balloon Race have set off from Bristol

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Hot-air balloonists have set off from Bristol to compete for the oldest sporting trophy in the UK.

The first of 12 teams launched from Queen's Square earlier, with all groups airborne by 08:00 BST.

The crews will compete to get the farthest before the Queen's Cup Balloon Race ends on Sunday.

The winner will be awarded the Queen's Air Race Challenge Cup, which dates back to 1719.

A thirteenth team was forced to take off three hours after the start from the Ashton Court estate after experiencing technical difficulties with the balloon canopy.

'Epic race'

This year's race has been organised by the The British Balloon and Airship Club.

Competitors are allowed to stop to refuel, and the balloon which gets furthest from Bristol "as the crow flies" will win.

Organiser Hannah Cameron, said: "It really is an epic race. It's a bit like playing golf and chess at the same time.

"There's a tactical element. Do you hang back and see what other balloons are doing? Do you stay low and see what winds you've got?

"Or do you go higher and see what the winds at altitude will give you?"

The Queen's Cup, which is made of Irish silver, was donated by The Queen to The Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom in 2010.

Since 2011, it has been awarded by the club to different air sport competitions.

Two years ago it was awarded for aerobatics, and in 2012 it was awarded for a microlighting competition.

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