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

Classic Race Sets Classic Conundrum
A grand armada of 206 yachts set off on the offshore component of the 62nd Giraglia Rolex Cup under a sky awash with low cloud and a sea caressed by a warm, but gentle easterly breeze. With so many boats on the water, the start of the 241-nm Mediterranean classic offered a spectacular panorama to those watching from both Saint-Tropez and the northern shore of the gulf.

The largest yachts were first away at noon, with the striking blue sails of line honours favourite Esimit Europa 2 plainly visible and contrasting with the dark shades of grey of the other racing yachts and the paler sails of the more Corinthian elements within the fleet. A slow race is forecast with navigators of the fastest yachts expecting somewhere around 30 hours to complete the course, and those of smaller yachts rolling their eyes and looking heavenwards at the question.

Some two hours into the race, at 14.00 CEST, Esimit Europa 2 was just approaching the mark off Cavaliere-sur-mer that marks the turn towards the Giraglia rock, 125-nm in the distance. As expected, the four Racing Mini Maxis were in a tight bunch just behind her.

As with all long-distance yacht races with a wide spread of sizes in the fleet, the eventual weather pattern will play a key part in determining the overall handicap results of the 2014 Giraglia Rolex Cup. Boris Hermann, navigator on Esimit Europa 2,echoed a fear among the larger yachts that a change in the wind after they have finished will favour smaller, slower yachts still rounding the Giraglia rock.

Tomorrow should present a clearer picture how the race is unfolding.

A Tie For The Hundred Guinea Cup
Photo by Ingrid Abery, Click on image for photo gallery.

JClass at Palma Hanuman and Lionheart will share the King's Hundred Guinea Cup after finishing tied on corrected time in the first race of Palma's Superyacht Cup. They actually finished second and third respectively across the finish line behind Ranger which subsequently accepted a penalty for a rules infringement on the approach to the first leeward gate.

It was the closest and most exciting racing for the J Class yet as the five boat fleet for Palma's Superyacht Cup contested the prestigious trophy. From a spirited, very evenly match contest which saw three different leaders at successive windward mark turns, Ranger had lead around the final turn, eking out a decent lead to finish first across the line.

But with Ranger taking an arbitration penalty after a port-starboard incident as they approached the first leeward gate which dropped them to third Hanuman - winners here last year - and Lionheart - winners of the Menorca Maxi event last month - could not be separated on corrected time.

So both will share the Class's top trophy of the season:

"Wow, it was some race." Smiled Hanuman's Ken Read in the Palma sunshine just after racing, "When you have five boats going at the same speed then that is the best race there has been. It is flat water and 12 knots of breeze and so it is when the boat speeds are going to be very similar. And so as you saw today any mistake was magnified."

The Bay of Palma can sometimes be a one way, one sided race track in the standard sea-breeze conditions, but the first contest of the Superyacht Cup for the J Class offered ample chances for gains and losses as the breeze tracked right and built for each round.

58 Teams Ready for ORC European Championship
Valencia, Spain: An impressive array of talented teams will be assembling soon for the 2014 ORC European Championship, held over July 1-6 at the Real Club Nautico Valencia (RCNV). In total there are 58 yachts from 9 countries throughout Europe that will compete for four days on a variety of inshore and offshore race courses. The event is being held as part of RCNV's Trofeo SM La Reina regatta, which annually attracts the top talent in Spain and the region.

The fleet will be divided into 4 classes, with ORC 0 having 4 entries, ORC 1 having 19 entries, ORC 2 having 26 entries, ORC 3 having 7 entries and the ORC Open class with 3 entries. First, second, and third-place trophies will be awarded in each class, as well as an overall trophy for the Trofeo SM La Reina. Entries with all-amateur crews will also be eligible for First place trophies in the Corinthian Division.

Among the teams coming to Valencia are several recent champions in other ORC events, most notably Giuseppe Giuffre's M37 Low Noise from Italy, which just last weekend won the ORC Mediterranean Championship held at San Vito Lo Capo in Sicily. This team sailing their design from Maurizio Cossutti is a always a strong contender and often a perennial champion in ORC Class B, having won the ORC European Championship in 2012 and the ORC World Championship in 2009 and 2011. In Valencia they will be racing in Class 3, but may have a strong rival in Nicola de Gemmis's GS 39s Morgan IV, who was on the podium with Low Noise at the Europeans in 2012.

Another reigning ORC champion will also be in Valencia, Giuseppe Parodi's Reichel/Pugh-designed TP 52 Hurakan. This Italian team won a competitive Class A in Ancona, Italy last year at the Adria Ferries ORC World Championship, and faces a tough challenge again in Class 0 this year, with two more TP 52's from Botin/Carkeek - Giorgio Martin's Aniene and Michele Galli's b2 - as rivals, as well as the Russian-based Ker 60 Phoenix skippered by Jens Linder.

Marinepool Revolution NX Line - The New Generation Of Racing Gear
Marine Pool What if there was a racing top light weight like a shirt, ultra comfortable, made from highly flexible fabric, waterproof like the best offshore sailing gear and more breathable than anything you have ever seen or worn? Impossible? Too good to be true? Well, not any longer!

The new "Revolution" NX top by Marinepool combines all the above mentioned highly regarded qualities in one new innovative garment with Dermizax® NX technology. This high-tech and high-end racing top is one of the stars in the Marinepool 2014 collection. The Marinepool design team and Toray, the producers of the Dermizax® NX fabrics, have been working behind the scenes to bring this new product to market, while the world-class athletes on Extreme Sailing Series Champion "The Wave, Muscat" put it through it´s gears in a thorough testing programme.

The feedback was inspiring the name of this racing top: Revolutionary

Never before has a racing top ticked off the boxes like "Revolution NX" with unrivaled comfort, ease of movement and a breathability at 30,000+ g/m2/24h - 50% higher than most other top of the range products on the market today.

"Revolution NX" features highly flexible neoprene neck and sleeve cuffs, a 3D designed shape, printed reinforcements and an adjustable neoprene hem. Reflective prints provide increased safety. The top is complemented by light-weight and ultra-flexible trousers and bermuda shorts. Both are made from the same high-tech ultra breathable 3-layer fabric with Dermizax NX membrane and feature abrasion resistant Cordura® reinforcements at the knees and bottom, adjustable elastic waistbands, belt loops and a bulky leg pocket with water resistant zipper. The trousers have got pre-shaped knees for increased wearing comfort and mobility and adjustable leg cuffs.

Dermizax® membrane is a nonporous membrane, highly waterproof and breathable. Its smooth and soft texture, super light weight and elasticity significantly increase wearing comfort. Athletes who turn every stone to reduce weight and who always are in pursuit of a competitive advantage will look no further.

"Revolution" NX by Marinepool. Design. Technology. Passion.

The Great Race
This Saturday, the 83rdedition of the Round the Island Race, hosted and run by the Cowes-based Island Sailing Club, will commence at 0630. The massive fleet will head off from Cowes on the 50 nautical mile course around the Isle of Wight.

The Race, enjoying its 10th year of title sponsorship from J.P. Morgan Asset Management, started in 1931 with 25 boats and on Saturday 21stJune - the longest day - there will be in excess of 1580 yachts competing. It has come a long way since then, and especially over the past ten years under the continuing expert stewardship of the Island Sailing Club, J.P. Morgan Asset Management and the family of Race Partners.

In order to bring the Race alive to its army of supporters around the world, skippers are encouraged to sign up to live tracking, whilst families, friends and followers around the globe can follow the Race progress on the popular LIVE Blog, and there's a constant news output both on the Race website and on social media platforms.

This Race continues to retain a special place in sailors' hearts and its popularity continues to increase as organisers point to a 7% growth in the number of 'first timers' signing up to experience one of the most iconic yacht races in the world.

California Cup
Marina del Ray, California, USA: Marina del Rey and Santa Monica Bay certainly delivered on the opening day of the California Cup as the fleet of 15 Farr 40s was greeted by sunny skies, warm temperatures and solid 8-12 knot southwesterly winds.

Principal race officer Peter Reggio reeled off three starts in rapid succession and there were three different winners on the day. Santa Barbara skipper John Demourkas and his crew aboard Groovederci rounded the first weather mark in first and was able to maintain that lead the rest of the way in winning Race 1. Annapolis skipper Kevin McNeil and his team on Nightshift took advantage of a late mistake by Plenty to win Race 2. Finally, Wolfgang Schaefer steered the German entry Struntje Light to a come-from-behind victory in Race 3.

Nightshift was the overall winner of the day with McNeil steering the Maryland entry to a solid score line of 3-1-2. Andy Horton is calling tactics while Dave Scott and Rich Bowen are trimming the main and jib, respectively, on Nightshift, which entered the regatta fourth in the overall standings for the 2014 International Circuit.

Full results:

Sam Matson Maintains His Rookie Division Lead
At 02:59 BST this morning, British solo skipper Sam Matson (Artemis 21) surfed into Roscoff, France under a moonlit sky to finish the second leg of the Solitaire du Figaro 18th overall and third Rookie. Having raced two of the four legs that make up the full 2014 mile Solitaire course, Sam maintains his overall Rookie lead by 18 minutes and 14 seconds and sits an impressive 14th overall on the Solitaire du Figaro leaderboard after two legs.

Sailing 540 miles in straight lines from Plymouth, UK to Roscoff, France via Fastnet Rock, Leg 2 looked like a straight forward speed run on paper, however with moderate but shifty winds, TSS exclusion zones to navigate and a shut down at Fastnet Rock in the Irish Sea - there was still a tactical game to be played. Positioned 31st on the second day of racing (Monday 16th June), by that very evening British Rookie Sam had pulled back 12 positions to 18th on the approach to the Scilly Isles. It was here that Sam entered into a Rookie podium grudge match with Artemis teammate Rich Mason (Artemis 77) and Gwenole Gahinet (Safran-Guy Cotten).

With early front-runner Sebastien Simon (Credit Mutuel Espoir) having sailed away with the Leg 2 Rookie podium top spot, the race was on for second and third. Rich was the first skipper to drop behind, leaving Sam and Gwenole to battle it out to the end - Sam eventually finishing just one minute behind the young Frenchman after three days, five hours, 33 minutes and 51 seconds of racing.

Back on the docks Sam reported: "First British skipper home for a second time, leading Rookie overall and top 20 on the overall leader board - of course I'm happy, I'm chuffed. It was a great race."

The next (third) leg of the race starts Sunday 22nd June, taking skippers 505 miles from Roscoff, France, to Les Sables d'Olonne, France - home of the Vendee Globe.

Round Ireland Yacht Race
To date, 35 yachts from France, England, Wales, the Isle of Man and of course the host country are set to compete in the 18th Round Ireland Yacht Race. Approximately half the boats are from Ireland and the remainder from further afield. This reflects the trend in recent races. The Round Ireland is scheduled to start in just over a week at 2.00 pm on Saturday 28th June. There are 3 class CK yachts and one class Z yacht lined up to keep each other company as they race around Ireland: Monster Project entered by David Ryan, local Wicklow Sailing Club member, Libertalia from Team Jolokia in Lorient, Newstalk for Adrenalin from National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire and Voodoo Kilcullen, also from Dun Laoghaire, Royal Irish and National YC. In class 1, Laurent Gouy is back once again in Inis Mór a Ker 39, this time to defend his overall win last time out in 2012.

Several other boats are returning for another go at this challenging race, including 2-hander Ocean Tango with another Wicklow club member on board, Christiana Norton.

Long range forecast is for light winds, but let's wait and see. One thing for sure: the boats and crew will get a wonderful welcome in Wicklow.

Clipper: New York To Derry-Londonderry
The new wind has arrived with boat speeds picking up and the frontrunners extending their lead over the rest of the fleet by more than 200 miles.

The nine yachts that didn't manage to outrun the ridge of high pressure that engulfed them are now running with their spinnakers up with the new south easterly winds.

The front three yachts are beating upwind on a north easterly course after getting as far east as they could to escape the complicated weather systems.

Derry-Londonderry-Doire has held onto its lead and has also started the Ocean Sprint section of the course. It is followed by Jamaica Get All Right and GREAT Britain in third.

PSP Logistics came out of Stealth Mode where its position was hidden for 24 hours and has moved up to fifth place on the leaderboard. Skipper Chris Hollis said: "It was a pretty successful phase for us, pulling back a lot of miles and then some on the middle of the pack, which has now given us a fighting chance.

"The problem is we still need to make an easterly heading at some point. So a pretty big knock on the other tack is to be expected at some point. It is just a matter of when you do to minimise the damage of the negative tack.

"We are in company of Henri Lloyd and OneDLL who snuck over the horizon yesterday afternoon while we were on the edge of the southerly and dead zone. It is great to have them behind us for once. However, OneDLL having been wounded early on this race is on a storming comeback mission, and Henri Lloyd… Well, the leaders of the regatta are just about unstoppable at times."

Fleet tracker:

Wind Or Current For Bermuda Race Route?
Newport Rhode Island, USA: Tacticians, navigators and skippers in the Newport Bermuda have choices to make in deciding the fastest route to Bermuda. The rhumb line course is the shortest distance between two points, but it may not be the fastest. Two choices could determine victory or defeat. Will the wind on the course or Gulf Stream current be more important? That choice must be made before the race starts. The 164-boat fleet sets off Friday, June 20 from Newport Rhode Island.

For more than forty years Frank Bohlen has studied ocean and near-shore currents. Since 2002 he has prepared detailed analyses of the ocean between Newport and Bermuda in the months prior to this race. In his recent online tutorials on the race website, he has described Gulf Stream development using images from NOAA and other sources.

Dr. Bohlen commented on the Gulf Stream choices this week. "The Gulf Stream in the vicinity of the straight line Newport to Bermuda route (the rhumb line) has been dominated by a deep meander. The meander has remained nearly stationary and deepened causing the direction of the flows in the main body of the Stream to rotate clockwise to a nearly northwest to southeast flow essentially paralleling the rhumb line for a distance of about 180 nautical miles."

When considering how long-term wind shifts, happening over three or four days, will determine their course to an island 635nm away, a racer's mantra is 'sail fast to the new wind'. Ken Campbell of Commander's Weather shared his insights on wind with the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee as of Tuesday morning, four days before the start.

"For 2014 there are similarities to the 2002 race." Campbell wrote. That year, a strong Gulf Stream meander ran into the face of a similar strong wind, creating very rough seas. "Strong southwest winds are expected late Sunday night and Monday which will cause very rough conditions on the Gulf Stream. This should primarily affect the smaller yachts. The larger yachts will probably be in the strong SW winds, 20-30+ kts, for a shorter period of time and should be generally out of or getting out the Gulf Stream by then. It will be a very active weather pattern for late June" -- Talbot Wilson

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I can live with doubt and uncertainty. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. -- Richard Feynmann

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