Veterans' regatta hit hard by winds

It was everything the romantics had dreamed of and more but there was a high price to pay for the opening day of the America's Cup Jubilee regatta here yesterday. First away were the trio of J-Class yachts, Endeavour, Velsheda and Shamrock V, and the equally elegant Cambria. Their huge visual presence was all that typified the bygone era, in their case the 1930s, that this extraordinary gathering wishes to celebrate.

It was everything the romantics had dreamed of and more but there was a high price to pay for the opening day of the America's Cup Jubilee regatta here yesterday. First away were the trio of J-Class yachts, Endeavour, Velsheda and Shamrock V, and the equally elegant Cambria. Their huge visual presence was all that typified the bygone era, in their case the 1930s, that this extraordinary gathering wishes to celebrate.

The weather, however, was bang up to date and a wind gusting up to 27 knots inevitably meant that vintage pieces of racing equipment, many of them designed for the more gentle conditions of the Mediterranean, had to be nursed carefully.

Cambria retired hurt before enduring a bumpy ride through Hurst Narrows and down past The Needles. Endeavour finally powered through, but beat Shamrock by only three minutes after handicap adjustment.

An attempt to race the modern America's Cup class yachts was abandoned and only the practice race for the 12-Metre World Championship could be completed and that not before a crewman on Victory had lost the tip of a finger. The German yacht, Trivia, with the 1984 Star silver medallist, Achim Griese, calling the shots, broke her boom where it attaches to the mast.

That can be mended, as can the boom of the 1920's 56ft Merrily, with Ted Hood on board. But the break on the 120ft Charlatan would take four days to repair. Chris Jago and the crew of Flamboyant, which included 1984 bronze medallist and British America's Cup designer Jo Richards, were trying to persuade the authorities to let them use the 50-foot Mandrake as a replacement.

Pascal Herold, president of the next French challenge for the America's Cup, suffered the embarrassment of his 85ft Folie de Grinders running hard aground on Hamstead Ledge.

Even the modern yachts had problems. The Australian 80ft Wild Thing retired after splitting its mainsail and the 92-foot Skandia Leopard had to sail for most of the race without its main after breaking battens. Matt Barker faces a longer lay-off after his beautifully restored 65ft The Blue Peter, built in 1930 to an Alfred Mylne design, broke its mast.

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