With sunny skies over Cowes and a gently building, backing breeze sweeping the Solent, the Swan fleet made an elegant start to its European Championships

The 61 boats contesting the Swan European Championships 2001 made a picture-perfect start to their campaigns yesterday as a 12kn northerly breeze brought them across the startline. The first mark lay downtide to the east.

Unfortunately for helm Shirley Robertson, pre-regatta favourite Jacobite got lost in the traffic while looking for clear air and started 20 seconds after the Swan 65 Eva, with Yachting World’s Matthew Sheahan onboard, and the Swan 56 Aqua Equinox, both leading down the middle of the pack.

However, the first two around were the two Swan 60s Island Fling and Spirit of Jethou. Whereas Spirit climbed to reaching height and popped her kite as soon as possible, Island Fling stayed in the east-flowing tide and rounded 30 seconds ahead with a third 60, Crackerjack, close behind. That’s how the top three stayed.

Corrected glory went to the elegant Sparkman and Stephens 48 Elan, giving the British top ten a German crown. Island Fling’s racier rating dropped her to eighth while Spirit of Jethou moves up to second. Jacobite, the race-tweaked S&S 48 sistership of Elan, is currently eighth and Robertson’s crew will be hoping that their worst race is over.

For the full results breakdown in the racing class, click here , and for the cruising class, click here .