Impressive display of speed from McWilliam

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The Independent Online

It is supposed to be bad luck to win the practice race of a major regatta, so Hong Kong's Jamie McWilliam looked good without really testing his fortune in the Solent yesterday as the Hackett World Championship for the Etchells 22 warmed up.

He showed an impressive turn of speed to win by nearly two minutes, but there was no victory cannon at the finish as he had been over the line at the start. As was Britain's Tim Law, finishing an equally silent second and passing the parcel of superstition to the local man Eddie Warwick.

The Australians, who formed the largest contingent of the 27 overseas competitors, were also showing consistent speed in the 10 to 12 knot easterly breeze as well as negotiating successfully the strongly ebbing tide.

Bruce Anson, of Sydney's Pittwater was second, while, from nearly 3,000 miles away, Ronnie Packer from Perth's Swan River was third.

The 64 entries from eight countries are slightly less than had been hoped, perhaps influenced by having the six-race series spread over two weeks and the entry fee being pounds 500. And some of the big names, notably Dennis Conner, are missing.

But there is a good chance of Britain regaining a world title which was won by Tim Law's brother Chris in Fremantle in 1990, and the strength of support for the three-man keel boat is undiminished.

Going North continued to pay big dividends for Francis Joyon in the Europe I Single Handed Trans-Atlantic Race yesterday as his 60ft trimaran, Barque Populaire, at the one-third marker extended its lead to 150 miles over Paul Vatine in Haute Normandie.

It also put Italy's Giovanni Soldini and Britain's Pete Goss, both in 50-footers, at the head of the Monohull class as the favourites, Yves Parlier and Gerry Roufs, both further South and both in 60-footers, slipped a similar distance astern.