HENLEY, England (AP) _ A boat crash and an oar gate that popped open spoiled opening day at the Henley Royal Regatta for two American crews Wednesday.

St Andrew's School of Middletown, Del., was the first seeded crew eliminated when its shell crashed into the booms while leading Canford School of England by 2 lengths in the Princess Elizabeth Cup for school eights.

The boat went off course after St Andrew's stroke Simon Saddleton caught two crabs more than halfway through the one mile, 550 yard course.

``The other boat came across the line first,'' was all that the St Andrew's coach Lindsay Brown would say as he consoled his charges.

``I don't like to win races like that, but the boys were there when they were wanted,'' said Canford coach Derek Drury.

It was also a bad day for an Army crew from West Point making its Henley debut in the Britannia Cup. No. 3 seat Ray Butts' gate popped open and his oar came out on two occasions, leaving Imperial College London B the winners.

``I'm usually a very good gate tightener,'' said Butts.

Brooks School of North Andover, Mass., edged Hampton School B of England by three-quarters of a boat length in the Princess Elizabeth Cup. Brooks, the New England champion, meets Eton College on Thursday.

St. Catharine's Rowing Club of Canada beat the Stanford Rowing Club of California in the first heat of the Thames Cup.

St. Catharine's recovered from a bad start after stroke Rod Bierhuizen lost hold of his oar four strokes into the race, and went on to win by 1 3/4 lengths.

Northwestern University was beaten by Thames Rowing Club B in the Britannia Cup for coxed fours.

Northwestern qualified for Henley with a second-place finish in the Dad Vail Regatta. Coach Brad Hurlbut said the crew got financial help from the university to travel to Henley only last Friday and, as a result, its rowers still seemed to be suffering from jet lag.

The University of Minnesota had mixed results in the Britannia.

Its A crew of Peter Medin, Aaron Nutter, Todd Beyreuther, Matt Rich and cox Oliver Chan beat the Royal Chester Rowing Club. Chester led to past halfway but the Mississippi River oarsmen made a big push after half a mile and took the lead after three-quarters of a mile to win by a 1 3/4 lengths.

The Minnesota B crew, which formed as a scratch boat to try its luck at Henley, was outclassed by Strathclyde University of Glasgow and finished 4 3/4 lengths back.

The United States finished the first day of the five-day regatta with a win when a Stanford Rowing Club crew defeated Reading of England easily in the first round of the Wyfold Cup for coxless fours.