IT was a fitting way to mark the start of the First World War 100 years ago.

Aberdeen Angus Management Cowes Week 2014 commemorated the centenary with HMS Mersey, the Royal Navy River-class offshore patrol vessel, sailing through the Solent from the east in front of bystanders at the famous Royal Yacht Squadron.

A single cannon charge was fired before HMS Mersey sounded its horn at 10am to mark the start of a minute’s silence.

It was observed by The Princess Royal, who was aboard a vessel with ambassadors and representatives from the youth charity UKSA.

The tribute was impeccably observed by guests while sailors and crew also bowed their heads on vessels scattered across the Solent.

A second cannon charge signified the end of the silence.

The event marked the centenary of the first shot fired at sea by the Royal Navy’s HMS Lance in the North Sea – a day after war was declared by Britain.

Prof Dominic Tweddle, director general of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: “Cowes Week is acknowleged the world over as one of the most prestigious sailing events and we are touched that the organisers and the Royal Navy join with us in marking this sombre and thought-provoking centenary in a time-honoured fashion.”

Meanwhile the regatta continued with its royal seal of approval as following her father’s visit on Monday Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal put her yachting skills to the test.

Princess Anne took part in a race with young people from the UKSA charity along with her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence.

The Princess Royal, who is UKSA’S patron, steered her Albatross II yacht to victory over another UKSA boat Whirlwind 2, much to her delight.

Richard Thornton, chief executive of UKSA, said: “We had a fantastic day. She was incredibly engaged on board and helmed us across the finish line.

“Having a royal guest here does so much for us, it has been such a lift for staff.”