Sailing: England wounded by Americans: Fuga flies flag for Argentina

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The Independent Online
THERE was a distinct B Division feel to the performance of the three-boat team in the first race of the Rolex Commodores' Cup in The Solent yesterday and, without a rapid change of gear, the next six - four inshore, two offshore - could inflict a painful wound on England's former glory.

Showing them the way were the defending Americans and the Admiral's Cup holders, the Germans, who are all using this series as a test-bed for the new breed of boats designed under the International Measurement System of handicapping.

The 18-mile course in Christchurch Bay provided few thrills as the fleet churned up and down legs two and a half miles long in a gentle south-westerly sea breeze that never topped eight knots.

As the IMS is incomprehensible even to most of those taking part, it was impossible to say at any one time who was actually in the lead. In Class One, however, Falcon, Donald Smith's new Tripp 50, with the designer on board, wiped the floor with other 50s like Tony Todd's Eagle and Graham Walker's Indulgence, but even being more than 15 minutes ahead at the end was not enough on handicap to stop the Argentinian yacht, Fuga, winning.

Falcon's second was enough, with another from Helmut Jahn's Flash Gordon in Class Two and a runaway win by David Clarke's Mumm 36, Pigs in Space, in Class Three, to give the United States White team a satisfying lead on the first day.

Germany were expected to push the Americans hardest but their two teams were lying third and fourth and the Netherlands took second place, helped by their Class Two boat S'Energy, driven by Roy Heiner, coming next to last on the water but being raised to first by the handicap computer.

On the premise that a rose by any other name can look as wilted, England ended the day in eighth place, sandwiched by Jersey in seventh and the Welsh in ninth.