Poor start by James lets in Germans

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Spinnaker starts and a developing sea breeze combined to provide a glorious opening day for the 61 yachts in the Swan European Championship at Cowes yesterday.

The reigning title holder Stephen James, in the 48-foot Jacobite with the Olympic gold medallist Shirley Roverston at the helm, miscued the start and allowed the pack to stream away and give the main prizes of the day to visiting yachts.

Harold Baum's rival 48-footer Elan from Germany won the big boat class, as the Hong Kong boat, Paul Winkelmann's Island Fling, crossed the line first but had to give time on handicap. He was chased home by two of the British contenders, Peter Ogden's Spirit of Jethou and Terry Robinson's Assuage.

In the small boats, the 1999 class winner Graham Deegan in Menenes had to be content with second to Jean-Michel Carpentier's French entry, Xaossa. He was sandwiched by another French challenger, Alain Foulquier, in Saga.

The series continues today with two inshore races in the Solent, which was also the scene yesterday of the fourth in the series of Barlo Plastics Regattas for the Farr 40 class which has been dominated by Mark Heeley in GBR25. Yesterday he scored two firsts to complete a scorecard of second, first, second, first, second, first and first in the seven races this weekend. Second overall was Tony Buckingham's A Bit of a Coup.