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Three boats out at the start of the Medcup coastal race

Two crunching collisions put three boats out of the regatta at the start of the coastal race for the TP52s in the Audi Medcup off Marseilles yesterday.

No one was injured but Spanish entry Caixa Galicia suffered a crumpled bow in an entanglement at the first mark with compatriot Mutua Madrilena.

In a separate incident the winner of the opening regatta in Alicante, Dutchman Peter de Ridder's Mean Machine, hit the Argentinean Albert de Roemmer's Matador, ripping a winch out of the deck. DeRidder was consequently disqualified.

Out front, it was the BMW Oracle racing duo of Artemis and USA 17 that took second and third behind the German yacht, Platoon, skippered by Olympic gold medallist Jochen Schuemann.

But USA 17, with the trio of owner Larry Ellison, tactician Russell Coutts, and co-helmsman James Spithill were totally in control, winning the second half, sailing in a 25-knot north-westerly.That puts them clear at the top with Artemis as the King of Spain's Bribon, skippered by Dean Barker, and Platoon as the chasing pair.

In fifth is de Ridder with the American Terry Hutchinson completing the top six.