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

Comanche Unfazed By Strong Winds Forecast
A strong wind caution has put the Sydney to Hobart race fleet on notice but a predicted lull has increasingly-fancied American newcomer Comanche concerned.

A long-range weather briefing on Monday indicated the 117 yachts will begin racing in light easterly winds on Sydney harbour but should prepare for conditions to get livelier quickly.

"As the boats move out of the heads and start making their way down south, they'll encounter wind speeds of around 20 to 30 knots," said NSW Bureau of Meteorology's Andrew Treloar.

"It is likely we will have a strong wind warning."

Later in the race, however, the super-maxis are likely to be most affected by a lull as the lead boats reach Bass Strait, when winds could drop below five knots for around an hour.

Despite contesting its first big race, Comanche, the high-tech new super maxi owned by American Jim Clark and his Australian wife Kristy Hinze-Clark, is being well-backed to be first to Hobart, denying Wild Oats X1 a record eighth line honours victory.

Comanche navigator Stan Honey welcomed the forecast stiff winds early in the race but was wary of the light air expected for Saturday night.

Verdier & VPLP Architects' Point Of View Before The Sydney Hobart
Launched in September 2014, Comanche resulted from the studies realised on the Macif and Banque Populaire Imoca monohulls, who finished first and second in the 2012 Vendee Globe.

What distinguishes her from her 100 footer competitors, such as Wild Oats or Perpetual Loyal, are her great beam, her high mast which is placed very far aft and her boom perpendicular to the transom. Comanche is a virtually narrow boat; she is made to sail heeled thanks to the appendages' plan. As such, she enjoys a high fineness ratio sail plan. Inside, the structure is optimized to make the boat more resistant to damage. The cockpit was designed bearing in mind manual manoeuvres to gain weight.

Guillaume Verdier: "Comanche is not just an object, it is the result of a great collaboration with skipper Ken Read, of the Tim Hacket / Casey Smith team and the boat builder Brandon Linton. We all enjoyed working on this project. It was a positive and constructive collaboration: every mistake or difficulty was an opportunity to bounce back and find new ideas."

Vincent Lauriot-Prevost: "After the IMOCAs, this was our first exercise in the 100 footer monohull category. As light as possible, as strong as possible, such was the equation we shared with Guillaume Verdier. Her very powerful hull, her maximum draught to enter most marinas, her low freeboard height and side water ballasts make her the most powerful ship in the 100 footer fleet."

During the Solas Big Boat Challenge, on December 9th in Sydney Harbour, Comanche's first confrontation with her Sydney Hobart contestants revealed all the boat's potential in light conditions.

Levelling The Playing Field
There's a sense among the crews competing for a win in the inaugural Corinthian Division of the Rolex Sydney Hobart that it's levelling a playing field that has been uneven for a while under the handicap system.

"In theory, the handicap system makes it feasible more or less for anyone to win no matter what kind of boat you're sailing," Alien skipper and Corinthian debutant Justin Brenan said.

"But having a professional crew on board is a real advantage, and not having them makes it harder, so a Corinthian Division where there's no professional crew, yes please."

It is this kind of logic that makes the Corinthian Division "long overdue" according to divisional competitor and skipper of Quetzalcoatl Anthony Sweetapple. "I think this will encourage more people to participate in the sport and this race."

The beauty of the Hobart is it attracts the world's best. In this year's race we'll see America's Cup champions, several Volvo Ocean Race competitors, Olympic gold medallists and world champions.

The fans love it. It brings the eyes of their global followers to Australia. They share their skills and knowledge. And, there's no doubt they're inspiring the next generation to get out on the water.

But their presence is also a testament to the calibre of the race's amateur sailors - sailing's elite are here to compete against the local weekend racers.

About That Forecast... spoke to top navigators Tom Addis of Perpetual LOYAL and Juan Vila Wild Oats XI along with Andrew Treloar of the BOM on the weather for the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Dubarry Crosshaven - Comfortably The Best Performer
Dubarry Crosshaven Volvo Ocean Race teams have chosen Dubarry's Crosshaven in every edition of the race since the boot was developed with Green Dragon in the 2008 edition. There are several reasons for that.

First, the innovation that impressed the Green Dragon guys most: the integral gaiter. Made of lightweight, hard-wearing, water-resistant fabric and cinched up with a drawstring, this gaiter means you can kneel down and work on the foredeck without suffering the dreaded 'bootful of green' that kills comfort for the rest of the passage.

And when you're dodging icebergs in the Southern Ocean as winter's teeth snap at your vitals, you'll appreciate the 350g GORE-TEX® Duratherm membrane and thermally insulated footbed that will keep your feet, at least, toasty.

Then there's the award-winning grip of Crosshaven's non-slip and non-marking sole. If you're trying to stay vertical on deck, and several tonnes of water traveling at 30 knots is trying to persuade you that you might be more comfortable lying down, you need your feet to stay planted.

We can all benefit from experience, but it comes at a price. Lucky for you that Green Dragon footed the bill, and the benefit is all yours.

Dubarry Crosshaven - Born at sea

Overseas Yachts Arriving For Mount Gay Round Barbados Race
Bridgetown, Barbados: The arrival of the first overseas yachts into Bridgetown, including British VO70 Monster Project marks the start of the countdown of the 2015 Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series, which is taking place from 16-24 January.

This event, which kick starts the Caribbean race season, is proving to be a huge attraction for overseas entries with over 20 already signed and more than 50 boats expected overall.

One of the biggest draws is the Mount Gay Round Barbados Race (21 January) - a 60 nautical mile ocean race round the island. There are currently 14 established records in this race, all of which offer the skipper's weight in Mount Gay Extra Old Rum if broken. The current outright monohull round Barbados record holders with a time of 4 hours 42 minutes 28 seconds are Raphael Grisoni and his Mount Gay team aboard Monster Project.

The Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Coastal Race Series is held from 17-19 January with three coastal races per day for the highly competitive J/24 fleet and one race per day for all other classes.

Although it is not part of the series, a final 300-mile Ocean Race to Antigua, specially laid on to tie up with the Superyacht Challenge, starts at 1000 on Saturday 24 January.

One of the most interesting entries is the recently launched 33m schooner Ruth. The design of this vessel - which took 10 years to build locally, on the beach in Carlisle Bay - is based on the Canadian grand banks schooner Bluenose. The idea is for her to be used as a cargo ship on historic Caribbean regional trading routes using wind and solar electrical systems to minimise her carbon footprint. She will also provide sail training opportunities for 18-25 year olds.


A Closer Look At Luna Rossa's Foiling AC45
Luna Rossa has been testing two AC45 catamarans converted for foiling. In a recent photo, it looks like helmsman Chris Draper has a remote control in his right hand - perhaps for controlling rudder rake and daggerboard rake and cant. Remember that the Protocol allows the teams to test a wide range of ideas by modifying an AC45 or by building a new boat from scratch based on just the lower part of the hull shape of an AC45.

The AC62 Class Rule allows the rudder to be raked up to three degrees while racing and the daggerboard to be raked up to 12 degrees and canted 15 degrees.

We can assume that all teams will be testing daggerboard shapes and control systems for appendages and wings on their AC45s, since they cannot launch their AC62 until 150 days before the beginning of the America's Cup Qualifiers - probably in September 2016. -- Jack Griffin

Marion To Bermuda Race Offshore Youth Challenge Trophy
The Marion to Bermuda Race announces the creation of a new prize, the Offshore Youth Challenge Trophy, which will be first awarded in the June, 2015 Race. The creation of this challenge makes the Marion to Bermuda race the first offshore event, following the USSER US Oceans guidelines, to offer a youth specific trophy for crews 16 to 23 years of age.

The Marion to Bermuda Race Offshore Youth Challenge Trophy was created to enable young adult sailors to experience the challenge of sailing offshore in the accompaniment of experienced adult mentors. The Marion to Bermuda Race classifies youth sailors as those who will be between the ages of 16 and 23 at the start of the 2015 Marion to Bermuda Race (June 19th, 2015).

The Offshore Youth Challenge Trophy is open to any boat that meets the requirements of the Marion to Bermuda Race as stated in the Notice of Race. Teams do not have to be enrolled in one specific school together, nor be representing a single program. A minimum of four sailors aboard any boat must be between the ages of 16 and 23 for the boat to qualify for the Offshore Youth Challenge, with no less than 66% of the crew classified as youth sailors.

All participating youth crew are required to meet the same safety prescriptions indicated in the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions determined by the race organizers, including attending a Safety at Sea Seminar. The Marion to Bermuda Race is hosting its Safety at Sea Symposium in Boston, MA March 21-22, 2015.

Special accommodations and social events will be organized in Bermuda for all youth participants.

Final Voting Days: Wight Vodka Favourite Yachting Bar
Wight Vodka Final days to vote for the world's best yachting bar... voting ends Friday at midnight.

Your humble narrator can personally recommend this one, it goes well with roast turkey...
And it provides 20 percent of your daily recommended Vitamin C (per serving... )

Cran Razzy

6 ounce(s) (3/4 cup) Wight Vodka
1/2 cup(s) fresh or frozen raspberries for garnish
2 cup(s) cranberry-raspberry juice
2 cup(s) seltzer
2 tablespoon(s) lime juice, plus 4 wedges for garnish

You should probably shoot for 40 to 60 percent of your recommended Vitamin C just to be sure.

Vote here:

Revolution In The Village
Matching the demands and the solutions for winched control of loaded lines onboard any sailboat present a challenge to find the perfect fit. For any boat over 25ft in length you need the speed, power and geared mechanical advantage that only a winch can provide, but this comes at a cost: weight, reliability, maintenance, physical footprint, installation hassle and price of the unit itself can be mitigating factors in selecting the right winch for the job...

And even when all other requirements are right in the selection, there will be circumstances when you need both speed and power from the same device. Achieving both efficiently is another significant challenge, because the more gears needed to meet the speed and power requirements, the more the size, weight, complication and operating difficulty of the winch.

Without resorting to electric or hydraulic power sources, Pontos has devised a new twist on this age-old conundrum by introducing a product line of new four-speed winches that offer a geared solution to balancing line speed with power in a manually operated device.

Called the Grinder and the Trimmer, these devices offer a clutched method to allow the operator to automatically change the gearing based purely on the loads on the line, similar in manner to how the gearing in an automobile transmission will change when the load changes on the car.

Full article in Seahorse:

ORCi World Championship
Over 27 June - 4 July 2015, the Real Club Nautico de Barcelona (RCNB) will host the 2015 ORCi World Championship from its base in Port Vell in the historic heart of the world-class city of Barcelona.

Invitations will be extended to Pre-Entries based on the yacht's and its skipper's racing records, particularly in previous ORC Championships, as well as the chronological order received. No additional Pre-Entries will be allowed after the initial entry closing date of 15 May, but any Pre-Entries cancelled or not confirmed can be replaced from the waiting list the organizers will create for those not accepted at the initial entry closing date.

Pre-registration is now available on the event website at

Three classes will be formed using the ORC's new CDL system of class divisions, with Class A entries being between 17.00 m and 11.60 m, Class B between 11.60 m and 9.70 m, and Class C being between 9.70 m and 8.50 m. Each class will have its own start and separate results will yield a World Champion in each class.

2015 Melges 24 U.S. National Championship
Cascade Locks, Oregon, USA: With a host of Melges 24 teams from all over the U.S.A. already pre-committed to racing at the 2015 Melges 24 U.S. National Championship scheduled to take place at the Gorge on August 7-9 and hosted by the Columbia Gorge Racing Association (CGRA), the U.S. Melges 24 Class Association is thrilled to welcome CSR Marine as the event's main title sponsor/partner.

This is not the first time that CSR Marine has partnered with the USMCA to support its marquee event of the year. In 2012, CSR Marine sponsored the event where in upwards of 30+ teams competed. For 2015, the USMCA expects to exceed that entry number easily.


Bossing The Business
Stewart Hosford runs one of the biggest and most prominent IMOCA race teams through the 5 Degrees West company, which in this instance look after Alex Thomson's Hugo Boss and Neutrogena, the Farr design which took third in the Vendee Globe in the hands of Alex Thomson. Hosford joined Alex Thomson just before their slightly turbulent start to the last Barcelona World Race.

As well as expanding and optimising their commercial interests, he was instrumental in the changes which massively improved reliability, ensuring that Alex brought an older, but well proven IMOCA 60 on to the Vendee Globe podium, thereby producing a much needed race result just on time. Hugo Boss have committed to Alex for the foreseeable future, ensuring that he now has a new Hugo Boss - a VPLP-Verdier design - in build.

The business model which supports this multi-million euro programme is unique in IMOCA in terms of its magnitude and its global reach. Hugo Boss IMOCA 60 race boats travel the world to be seen and used at the right strategic events to promote the brand. And from that standpoint Thomson works extremely hard to underpin the return for Hugo Boss. Part of that model has been their incredible viral initiatives, Hosford revealing that the global success of Alex Thomson's mast walk returned £5m in PR value.

What has been the reach of the race boat Hugo Boss in that mix, the hospitality programme is vital?

Hugo Boss has been to the Baltic in the summer, in the Med at the start of the season, we did Sicily, the South of France, were here in Barcelona. We went to Newport and New York for the New York Barcelona. We did the Med again and then did Gdansk and Gdynia in Poland, Denmark, back to the UK for 10 days then out of the water for three months to be ready for here. Both boats were in Sant Feliu de Guixols sixty miles up the coast for the last six weeks preparing. We had a great facility there and did some two boat testing and made sure we are ready to go.

How important is the Barcelona World Race in that mix?

The result here is extremely important. In most people's minds there is a hierarchy of races. That does not apply to us. For us on Hugo Boss the Barcelona World Race is at the same level as the Vendee Globe, it is in a great city, it is a round the world race, it is a great race and it is important. I want our two boats to be first and second. That is my dream. Equal first would be great. Hugo Boss is the later generation boat and therefore you do expect it to be favourite.

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See the collection at

The Last Word
Gee, do they still make wooden Christmas trees? -- Linus

Back On Monday December 29
Your humble narrator will be presiding over a house full of family and friends... and a soon-to-be-empty liquor cabinet and wine cellar... and a few days off. Back on Monday December 29. Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year... have a very merry one!

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