Jamie Lea and Team Barbarians lead the Melges 24 Europeans at Torquay after one day's racing

The Ocean BMW Melges 24 European Championship 2005 got underway in Torquay yesterday with two classic light airs races that kept the 50 competitors from 10 nations on their toes and left several of the top favourites feeling decidedly off the pace.

Race one started in approx 6 knots of wind and the right was favoured. At the first mark it was Jamie Lea, helming Stuart Simpson’s Team Barbaians from Philippe Ligot’s Partner & Partners, sailing with new helmsman Francois Brenac. Frenchman Thomas Rouxel in Cotes D’Amor Sail de Mer rounded third with the Austrian team of Michael Schineis fourth and Henri Samuel fifth.

By the second weather mark Partner & Partners had snuck past Barbarians as behind them Italyâ??s Gabrio Zandona, helming for the reigning European Champion crew of Giovanni Maspero aboard Joe Fly, pulled into third. Fourth was Schineis with Frenchman Antoine Albaret in Cotes D’Armor Perros Guirec fifth and Samuel sixth. The leading three held position on the last run. Andrea Racchelli played the shifts from seventh to fourth with Schineis fifth and Rouxel sixth.

By the second race the wind had increased to 8 knots. Right was still preferred and at the first mark Alba Batzill, fresh from winning the 6m Worlds and sailing Eddy Eich’s No Woman No Cry, led from Barbarians with Tim Collins in third, Antoine Albaret fourth and Andrea Racchelli fifth. Race one winner Partner & Partners had a disasterous start and rounded in the 40s.

Bazill confidently defended to the finish as the pack did battle. The shifts ensured many place changes. Racchelli eventually ground Barbarians into third. Rouxel pulled into and held fourth as Stuart Rix, helming Team Gill for Britain’s Quentin Strauss, claimed fifth despite a mediocre fifteenth at the first mark. Back in the pack Partner & Partners worked every little shift moving steadily through the fleet from 40th to 11th.

In the overall standings Jamie Lea and Team Barbarians lead with 5 points from Andrea Racchelli in Altea on 6 points. Thomas Rouxel in Cotes d’Armor Sail de Mere is third, Philip Ligot’s Partner & Partners Sailing Team, helmed by Francois Bernac, is fourth and Stuart Rix, with Quentin Strauss’s Team Gill, lies fifth.