Sailing: Court rules on fatal collision

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In a decision which will be studied closely by the United Kingdom yacht racing authorities, three suspended prison sentences have been handed down by a French court following the death in St Tropez last year of a crew member drowned as a result of the collision involving two yachts while racing.

But the organisers of the event, La Nioulargue, were discharged, although the public prosecutor had originally called for a fine of pounds 2,500.

The hearing, to investigate the death of Jacques Bourry on the six-metre Taos Brett IV, after it collided with the schooner Mariette, had been timed to coincide with the 1996 event.

The court eventually fined Thomas Perkins, the owner, and Thomas Eaton, skipper of the Mariette, pounds 6,000 each in addition to the suspended jail sentence and imposed a similar penalty on Claude Graf, owner and skipper of Taos Brett.