Brought to you by Seahorse magazine, Scuttlebutt Europe is a digest of sailing news and opinions, regatta results, new boat and gear information and letters from sailors -- with a European emphasis. Contributions welcome, send to

Not Good. In Fact Very Bad. Apocalyptic.
Bridgetown, Barbados: The future of the Mount Gay rum refinery, reputedly the home of the world's oldest rum and the birthplace of the alcoholic beverage, remains uncertain six months after rum-making ceased there, amid a "setback" in talks on a buyout deal.

But company officials would not confirm or deny whether the talks involve French cognac maker, Remy Cointreau, which bought Mount Gay Distilleries in 1989 when it was split from the refinery that remains under the control of the Ward family.

"The distillery has been closed since the end of September last year," managing director Frank Ward, told the online Barbados Today newspaper. Ward said the workers were handed termination notices on December 18.

But Ward, scion of the Ward family that has retained control of the rum refinery since the early 20th Century, said that while rum production had ended at the distillery on the island's rural northern tip, the firm has not been wound up.

"We are not officially closed. We have not rounded up operations of the company. It has ceased production for the time being, that's all," Ward said.

In the termination letter to the workers, Ward stated that the operations had ceased "pending a decision by the shareholders on the future of the company".

In the meantime, Mount Gay workers said they had not received severance pay, pensions or other benefits due them, and were subsisting on unemployment insurance.

The existence of a rum still at the site has been dated to 1667 on a sugar plantation then named Mount Gilboa, but original rum making there has been formally dated to 1703. Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, the distillery's flagship brand, was established in 1928.

Figaro Solo Maitre Coq
Sailing out of the iconic Vendee Globe canal in Les Sables d'Olonne, today (Thursday 13th March) eight British skippers; Artemis Offshore Academy Rookies Rich Mason (Artemis 77), Alan Roberts (Artemis 23), Sam Matson (Artemis 21) and graduates Jack Bouttell (Overboard), Ed Hill (Macmillan Cancer Support), Henry Bomby (Black Mamba) and Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth) and Phil Sharp (Phil Sharp Racing) - kick started their 2014 solo Figaro season with the Solo MaItre Coq. Due to the extremely light winds forecast for the duration of the race, the organisers made the decision to shorten the 320 mile course by 50 miles: "It's going to be a difficult race as there is next to no wind forecast for the duration," explained Jack, who has had just nine days since taking over his Figaro to sail to Les Sables d'Olonne for the race.

"Originally looping between Ile d'Re and Belle Ile, the course instead sees the fleet sail a figure of eight from Les Sable d'Olonne north to Ile d'Yeu and back, and then south to Ile de Re and back - passing Les Sables three times on route. The new course means organisers can easily shorten the race further if necessary."

Sun cream and sunglasses on, the 38 boat Solo MaItre Coq fleet crossed start line at the third attempt just after 1130GMT, light winds of around 6 knots saw the Figaros drifting early over the line early resulting in two general recalls

Popping their spinnakers on the first turning mark, the fleet set off on a long and drawn out run in the sun towards the mark at Ile d'Yeu. With top boat speeds of around 5 knots the fleet's ETA at the island, just 35 miles away, is midnight tonight. Although not physically demanding, the light conditions of the Solo MaItre Coq will take it's toll on the skippers concentration and morale, especially when drifting past Les Sables d'Olonne again tomorrow near to where the finish line will be - a course change described by Sam Goodchild as 'torturous'.

Follow the British skipper's progress in the Solo MaItre Coq with the live race tracker on the Artemis Offshore Academy website

Event site in French and rather tortured English:

Going Big At St Barth
Photo by Christophe Jouany. Click on image to enlarge.

St Barth Expecting 70 or more boats, the Les Voiles de St. Barth is adding entries at a good clip leading up to its 2014 regatta dates of April 14-19. Sixty two racing yachts have thus far confirmed plans to line the docks or otherwise slip into the warm embrace of Gustavia's inner harbor and protected anchorage on the western side of St. Barthelemy island where the Quai General de Gaulle is the event's headquarters and lively epicenter for shoreside socializing.

Seven or more "maxis" (to be further separated into Maxi-Racing and Maxi-Racing Cruising/CSA Rating) are sure to steal the show in terms of sheer elegance and their precisely calculated approaches to competition, while at least 39 "spinnaker" yachts (to be further sorted into Spinnaker 1 and 2/CSA Rating), three IRC 52s, five Non-Spinnaker yachts and eight Racing Multihulls will impress with a dazzling array of sailing talent aboard, ranging from home-grown Corinthians to worldly professionals.

"We're delighted to be coming back to Les Voiles de St. Barth with Rambler (a Reichel-Pugh designed 90 footer)," said owner George David (Hartford, Connecticut), giving an appreciative nod to the event's fifth anniversary. "It's an exceptional regatta given its venue and organization, and this will be the fourth year for us (three in the 90' Rambler and one in Rambler 100). The winds begin to moderate seasonally in April, but we recall a good many days of well over 20 knots." 

Although he credits consistently good sailing with helping Rambler to win its class in three prior appearances, David expects tough competition in 2014 from at least two of the newer mini-maxis. "They're quicker around shorter courses than we are, and they're a decade newer in design and build."

David's reference is undoubtedly to Hap Fauth's (Minneapolis, Minn.) Judel/Vrolik 72 Bella Mente and Alex Schaerer's (Newport, R.I.) Mills 68 Caol Ila R. Both are new to the regatta. 

Along with the 72' Aragon, the 77' Ocean Phoenix and the 112' Highland Breeze, Wendy Schmidt's Swan 80 Selene will be another decidedly American entry to watch among the Maxis.

Seahorse April 2014
What's in the Latest Edition Of Seahorse Magazine

Seahorse Magazine

Terry Hutchinson on tour and Ivor Wilkins takes a close look at some of the new technology that worked so well... and at some that did not, at the 2014 A-Class worlds in Takapuna

Reaping the benefits
Quantum sail designer Brett Jones discusses the real-life benefits of using the VSPARS system

Design - High performance... sensible price
Barry Carroll introduces the new C&C30

Seahorse build table - The biggest yet
Here comes the new Gunboat 101

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RORC Easter Challenge
The RORC Easter Challenge, a training regatta where boats can gain valuable coaching advice whilst racing from a team headed by coaching guru Jim Saltonstall, will this year be augmented by the support of North U. Regatta Services.

North U. Regatta Service provides coaching and performance analysis at select events worldwide and RORC is delighted that the team will be present at the event in Cowes. The North U. team is led by Chuck Allen and Andreas Josenhans, who are both highly experienced sailing performance analysts based in the USA. The Regatta Services program includes on-the-water coaching tailored to sail trim and speed, followed by performance analysis debriefs in Cowes Yacht Haven Events Centre.

RORC CEO Eddie Warden Owen believes that the North Sails initiative is a great addition to the coaching that makes the RORC Easter Challenge such a special event:

"Jim Saltonstall and his coaching team provide a great service to the boats who want to improve their all-round performance and the addition of the North U. Regatta Services team, with their photographic analysis of sail shape and attention to what makes a boat go fast, will enhance what is already a unique and popular event in the UK," comments Eddie Warden Owen.

All competitors will be invited to attend the pre-sailing weather related informal chats and post race debrief sessions in Cowes.

Be Careful With America's Cup
Far be it from us to begrudge a billionaire his boat race, but Hawaii elected officials who are salivating over the prospect of hosting the America's Cup better take a hard look at San Francisco's experience before they give away the store.

Even Bay Area officials who would like the international sailing regatta to return to that city acknowledge that the positive economic impact of the 2013 event fell far short of projections. Critics - and there are many - would be happy to see software entrepreneur Larry Ellison and his competitive yachting crowd move on.

Honolulu Star Advertiser:

Stanley Paris To Make New Solo Circumnavigation Attempt
Stanley Paris has announced he will make another attempt at sailing solo around the globe, starting in November.

The former Dunedin resident had hoped to become the oldest and fastest person to sail solo around the world from Bermuda, by breaking the record set in 1986 by the late Dodge Morgan, who did it in 150 days, aged 54.

Dr Paris (76) was forced to pull out of his attempt to break that record in January when equipment on his yacht Kiwi Spirit began to fail in the South Atlantic Ocean.

There were concerns about the integrity of the rigging system on the yacht, and ultimately Dr Paris' safety, as he prepared to enter the Southern Ocean.

At the time, he was adamant there would be no second attempt.

But he now appears to have changed his mind.

He has been in extensive meetings with sail makers, designers, builders and others during the past month to determine the best course of action that would restore his confidence in the boat and its fittings. -- John Lewis

Loick Peyron Commits His Future To Artemis Racing
Alameda, California, USA: Artemis Racing announced today that French sailing legend Loick Peyron has committed his future to the Swedish team as a member of the design group and helmsman. Following his role as technical coach and helmsman during the 34th America's Cup, Loick brings his renowned versatility and unparalleled experience to Artemis Racing.

Peyron, who joined Artemis Racing in 2012, had a key role in developing the team's ability to sail the AC72 during last campaign.

Loick is one of the most experienced and successful multihull sailors in history, having crossed the Atlantic 48 times including eighteen single-handedly. He has an outstanding record of achievement: five ORMA champion titles, sixteen Grand Prix victories, three Single-handed Transatlantic Race victories and two victories in the Transat Jacques Vabre in 1999 and 2005. In 2011 he won the Barcelona World Race in a monohull, went on to win the Trophee SNSM, and then set the Round Britain and Ireland record aboard the Banque Populair V maxi-trimaran.

On the 6th January 2012, he won the Jules Verne Trophy setting the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the world in just 45 days with Banque Populaire V.

Artemis Racing continues to assess the criteria for the next America's Cup, and is in the meantime building a winning team based on experience, talent and collaboration. 

Asgard Centennial Sail-In
Click on image to enlarge.

Asgard On Sunday July 26th, 1914 the sailing yacht Asgard, owned and skippered by Erskine Childers, sailed into Howth harbour and landed guns. These had been collected from a German tug off the coast of Belgium for the Irish Volunteers who were seeking Home Rule.

This was a pivotal event in Irish history.

On the Centennial this July it is intended to have a commemorative sail-in, to Howth on Sunday 27th July, led by a yacht of the period. All are welcome to join in the celebrations.

This event is being organised by a voluntary group, most of whom were involved in the rigging of Asgard, now on display in the National Museum at Collins Barracks, Dublin. It has the support of the Director of the National Museum and is non-political.

This will be a family and community event with local Drama and Tourist groups, Sailors, Fishermen, Businesses and Musicians participating in the re-enactment and celebration. There will be no speeches, other than from our commentator who will explain the various aspects of the event.

A Global Race For Amateurs
Jimmy Cornell, the founder of the ARC, has launched a global race for amateur sailors. The World Odyssey will take competitors eastabout via the three great capes of the Southern Ocean in 2016/17. "I want to give ordinary sailors the opportunity to race on their own terms," declares the three times circumnavigator who says he is responding to the aims and interests of amateur sailors.

"In recent years I have spoken to many owners of production boats who are keen to race around the world in a competitive event but see themselves excluded by the dominance of all current offshore races by sponsored high-tech yachts sailed by professional crews," said Jimmy Cornell, who referred to this group as "the silent majority". "The World Odyssey will answer this demand by bringing back the Corinthian spirit of earlier round the world races," said Cornell.

In order to keep costs at a reasonable level, only production mono-hulled boats between 40ft and 60ft will be eligible, with no performance enhancing modifications being allowed to the standard design. Yachts will be rated under IRC and crews will have to prove themselves by undertaking qualifying passages. The only modifications to yachts might involve the addition of collision bulkheads and rudder strengthening. Cornell told Yachting World that the organisation could cope with up to 40 entries and depending on the level of interest a double-handed class might be considered. He said the race is scheduled to take place every two years. -- David Glenn


Great Nations' Cup
In spite of a heavy drizzle, 75 of the 80 boats entered into this year's GREAT Nations' Cup, the launch event of GREAT Week in Hong Kong, turned up on the start line in Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour, fully decked out in costume, flags and other national paraphernalia and ready to do battle on the water for the right to hang their national flag behind the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club's Main Bar until the 2015 event.

Given an easterly of around 9 to 12kts, with occasional lulls, Race Officer Sofia Mascia elected to set a course which would take the fleet from a Hung Hom start, through Lei Yue Mun Gap and round Shek O Rock in the eastern approaches. Once around, the boats would return under spinnaker, passing marks in the Harbour on their way to a Club finish line.

Racing on RHKATI handicaps, the boats were given staggered starts at 20 minute intervals with the slowest boats starting first and the fastest last, in the hope that in true pursuit race style they would catch up and finish close together. The third start suffered a hiatus as a tow decided to pass right through the line during the start sequence, but otherwise, everything ran smoothly.

The Impala fleet rounded Shek O Rock first, holding on to a lead on the water until the very end, when they were passed by Kiwi entry, Etchells Dream On helmed by Greg Farrell. With the first boat home, a procession of spinnakers stretched the length of the harbour as the remaining boats completed their race in a steady 7kts.

When the final results were in, New Zealand held on to her top spot by 16 seconds, with Hong Kong finishing as second nation, ahead of England, Scotland, Netherlands and Singapore in sixth.

Full results are available at

3D-Printed Carbon Composite Yacht Model
Click on image to enlarge.

3D-Printed Carbon Composite Yacht Model Italy-based CRP Technology has 3D-printed a 1:14 scale model of a yacht in carbon fiber composites in order to demonstrate the possibilities and give a boost to boat design. The model was displayed at last month's Miami Boat Show. The yacht model is called the Livrea26, designed by Livrea Yacht Italia in concert with CRP. It is inspired by the traditional fishing boats from the island of Pantelleria, according to a press release.:

CRP Technology uses selective laser sintering (SLS), plus composite materials under its Windform brand, for producing short-run end-production parts. These final parts are mostly for sport and road vehicles, as well as for prototypes and conceptual models. The materials can also be processed with tooling and CNC machined. The composite material used for the yacht model is Windform XT 2.0, a carbon fiber filled polyamide. -- Ann R. Thryft in Design News

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The Last Word
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