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

Paralympic Sailing: What Now?
Last week's unanimous vote by the International Paralympic Committee to oust sailing should be a loud warning to Olympic sailors as well.

Ten years ago, the United States Olympic Committee considered Sailing one of the most organized of the Paralympic sports. Since then, other sports have caught up, and through Wounded Warriors and similar organizations they've actively recruited athletes who were looking for a fresh challenge. Sailing has been included in every Paralympics since 2004, so it's got history... but with 14 countries represented, it doesn't meet the current IPC standard for worldwide reach (24). That was the reason given for the decision.

The other unfortunate reality is that the Paralympics (like the Olympics) are increasingly favoring sports that look good on TV. -- Carol Cronin in

John Merricks Tiger Trophy
High winds at the John Merricks Tiger Trophy made for a challenging weekend at Rutland Water Sailing Club. The penultimate event of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series (also supported by Gul, Trident, Overboard and Lennon Sails) attracted 118 entries, but with a forecast of 20-30 knot cold north-westerlies, the weekend was always going to be a war of attrition.

When the going gets tough, few boats pick up their skirts quite like the Fireball, and the Tiger Trophy played out very nicely for a strong entry of Fireball crews. Reigning World Champions Christian Birrell and Sam Brearey won two of the three handicap races on Saturday.

On Sunday, Birrell and Brearey won the John Merricks Pursuit Trophy, and took the overall title of Tiger Trophy victors. Dobson and Ainsworth were 2nd overall, with Fireballs taking five of the top six places. Rob Jones sailed well to finish 5th in his Blaze. Katie Davies and Grace Summers won the women's prize, finishing 11th in their 420. Ross Thompson and Ben Shorrock won the Junior Trophy, finishing 46th in their 420. Commodore Nick Clark presented the prizes along with John Merricks' father, Dennis. In very trying and cold conditions, race officer Dave Wilkins and his team were applauded for putting on a great weekend's racing.

Results from the John Merricks Tiger Trophy

Results in the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series after seven events

Boris Herrmann Has Launched His Charm Campaign
No German has ever taken part in the Vendee Globe, but Boris Herrmann would like to see that change. The 33-year old sailor has already completed two double-handed round the world voyages: one ending with a win in Class 40 and the other raced aboard a 60-foot IMOCA. So it is with a detailed CV that he is now attempting to win over potential sponsors in a country where the Vendee Globe is not as well known as in France.

"In 2010, my Class40 sponsor was ready to support me in an IMOCA campaign leading up to competing in the Vendee Globe aboard a brand new boat. It was a dream to be able to become involved in these conditions in a race, which had fascinated me since my childhood. I came to Brittany to talk things through with some designers and yards. But the firm that was backing me suddenly collapsed and I found myself without a partner. So I looked for the funding to compete in the Figaro circuit for a season, but in vain."

The fact that no German skipper has ever taken part in the Vendee Globe must make it that much harder for you...

"That's true. The race isn't yet known in Germany and my first challenge is to get firms to understand what the Vendee Globe represents, how it fascinates and guarantees a good return on investment for the sponsors. This event is still seen as a French adventure. But I am convinced that this vision will change, once a German sailor lines up at the start. The Volvo Ocean Race isn't being followed this year, as no German sailors are involved. But back in 2001/2002, when the German crew on Illbruck Challenge won it, there was extensive media coverage in the country. There are two of us looking for the next Vendee Globe, me and Jorg Riechers (currently competing in the Barcelona World Race, editor's note). The possibility of becoming the first German to set sail from les Sables d'Olonne is a good communications tool for us that we stress when talking to any possible partners."

Race On A Volvo Open 70 - The Caribbean 600 Challenge
Monster 70 Record-breaking Volvo Open 70 racing charter Monster Project is offering experienced sailors and enthusiastic newcomers a rare opportunity to join our team for the epic RORC Caribbean 600 Race, 21st - 27th February 2015.

Monster Project's Caribbean 600 package includes pre-race training days 17th - 21st February 2015 - where you'll be trained by our Professional Crew and Racing Skipper Andy Budgen, before Monster Project cross the start line on 21st February 2015 and the real adventure begins.

Will you join an international fleet of over 50 yachts, which has now entered the offshore blast around the Caribbean, one of yacht racing's most exhilarating playgrounds with the warm trade winds and a Caribbean swell providing superb sailing conditions. The RORC Caribbean 600 course, starting and finishing in Antigua, is designed to provide a challenging, high speed racetrack.

As an integral part of the crew, experience the thrill of sailing Monster Project's Formula - 1 racing machine. Tackle the worlds elite, and take on tasks such as grinding, hoisting, trimming and even driving a Volvo Open 70 in an extreme racing atmosphere.

This 70 foot technological and architectural masterpiece, forged of carbon fibre and resins, with towering mast, huge square-topped mainsail, twin daggerboards and a canting keel; has a magic combination of displacement, length and sail area and Andrew Budgen, will be skippering the boat to win. Already the battle for Line Honours includes Ragamuffin, Maserati, Rambler 88, Leopard, and of course Monster Project.

For more information on:

- The Caribbean 600 (21 - 27 February 2015)
- St. Maarten Heineken Regatta (5 - 8 March 2015)
- Antigua Sailing Week (25 April - 1 May 2015)
- Fastnet (16 August 2015)
- Transatlantic 2015 Newport, Rhode Island to Cowes, Isle of Wight - held only once every 4 years (5 July 2015)
- Volvo Ocean Race Events


Nailing Home The Whiskey Plank
Hegarty's Boatyard, Old Court, West Cork: Simon Coveney T.D. Minister for Agriculture, Food & The Marine and Minister For Defence, with a little help from his friends, will hammer home the final 'whiskey plank' of European larch on the hull of the good ship Ilen. The ceremony takes place on Monday 16 February.

The whiskey plank is the final crafted plank nailed to the hull of a wooden sailing ship. It is a significant milestone in the build and is traditionally marked by a celebration.

The Ilen is the last of Ireland's traditional sailing ships. Built in 1926, it was delivered by Munster men to the Falkland Islands where it served valiantly for seventy years, enduring and enjoying the Roaring Forties, the Furious Fifties, and Screaming Sixties.

Ilen has been returned now to Ireland and given a new breath of life with powerful ribs of grown Irish oak, and long planks of European larch.

Plan To Extend America's Cup Benefits For Bermuda
A bid to use the America's Cup to turn Bermuda into a long-term mecca for sailors has been launched by two Island businessmen.

They have a plan to boost sailing in Island's waters, especially in the winter, under the banner of Sail Bermuda.

Ben Fairn and Richard Mitchele, of Hamilton-based advertising agency Aardvark Communications, said Bermuda could extend the benefits of the event by creating an Olympic sailing centre to boost visitors in the off season.

Mr Mitchele, a veteran blue water yachtsman, and Mr Fairn said they had looked at former America's Cup hosts Auckland, in New Zealand, and Valencia in Spain.

The 2003 event in New Zealand led to a "huge and sustainable boom" for Auckland, while Valencia saw little benefit after the 2007 Cup was over.

The duo said that investment in Olympic training and a commitment to hosting regional, national and world championships would all help keep Bermuda in the sailing limelight for years after the 2017 America's Cup had ended. -- Raymond Hainey in The Royal Gazette

Irish Sailing Association Aims To Raise &Euro;2.75m Annually For Olympic Team
A new Irish Sailing Association (ISA) organisation called the 'Irish Sailing Foundation (ISF)' expects to build 'philanthropic fund raised income to €2.75 million annually in support of the high performance mission and programmes'. The new organisation is seeking to recruit a Chief Executive that is 'an exceptional leader with a track record of building income' to change the funding of high performance sailing in Ireland.

As Afloat reported previously, the recruitment advertisement for the ISF's new CEO was advertised in last Friday's Irish Times and across Sunday national newspapers too. It is also posted on the association's website.

The high performance objective is to secure top 8 results for Irish sailors in the Olympic Classes at Worlds, Europeans and Olympics. To do this it focuses on identifying, supporting and coaching sailors who can succeed in Olympic competition. The advert says 'securing of significant philanthropic support and augmenting the funding provided by the Irish Sports Council will improve performance at Olympic level, increase the level of competition for those on squads and widen access and participation'.

Colin Firth To Play Ill-Fated Sailor Donald Crowhurst In New Biopic
Actor Colin Firth will play amateur sailor Donald Crowhurst in a new film about his failed attempt to win the first Golden Globe Race in 1968.

Crowhurst, who intended to use the prize money to support his failing business, was not a skilled yachtsman and made slow progress around the global course.

As the weeks went on, he eventually abandoned the race and reported false positions to race organisers, leading everyone to believe he was winning the race, when really he was in last place.

His boat Teignmouth Electron was later found drifting and recovered logbooks indicate that he'd suffered a mental breakdown due to the pressure and had jumped overboard.

The Theory of Everything director James Marsh will be taking the helm on the latest depiction of Crowhurst's journey, with shooting set to begin in the spring.

Letters To The Editor -
Letters are limited to 350 words. No personal attacks are permitted. We do require your name but your email address will not be published without your permission.

* From Euan Ross: Thanks to Kim Klaka for bringing the ISAF Gazprom deal to our attention. Check out the announcement: after a short preamble about how wonderful this is all going to be, the first item in the Gazprom profile is: "prospecting and the acquisition of new assets" and the last one is "representing Gazprom's interests outside the Russian Federation". I would guess that a majority of yachtsmen are raw meat capitalists, so this is a marriage made in Heaven. Nevertheless, the naivete of these world governing bodies never fails to astound me; although in the case of FIFA, it's the sponsors who are becoming squeamish.

Closer to home, as a life member of the RYA and an unimaginative investor, I'm content with Skandia, even though it no longer exists; but I do delay my annually renewable membership of British Cycling till they phone me up and ask what's wrong. On each occasion, I complain about their intimacy with the scurrilous news-hounds of the Murdoch Empire. Of course, it makes absolutely no difference.

Yes, we all like to keep our leisure pursuits and entertainment above politics, but not above morality. Sports federations are duty-bound to respect the ethical diversity of their constituencies. For this reason, these organizations should slim down and live within their means, as provided by fees and subscriptions. Enough of the megalomania; developing sailing at the grassroots and organizing regattas should be left entirely to clubs under the guidance of their national associations. ISAF doesn't need to hawk a begging bowl for this.

* From Dr Frank Newton OBE: As a past chairman of the ISAF Medical Commission I would be interested to hear if the current Commission members have been asked to make input to ISAF? I regard this matter as just as important as debates upon doping control . The ability to enjoy a disabled sport , which is also recognised as a Paralympic sport , is a motivating input worth as much as the medication or surgical intervention that is the lot of those less fortunate than us able bodied sailors .

* From Adrian Morgan: Malcolm is spearheading a worthy campaign: the wellbeing of sailors. First a point of order: the IYRU changed its name on 5 August 1996, and as press officer for the Madrid conference, where it all came to a head, I witnessed at first hand the machinations of what I described at the time as the sailing equivalent of the papal curia under the Borgias.   Fortunately I have had little to do with the ISAF since then, personally or professionally, and still have no idea what it does to further a sport that, quite frankly, lives (or dies) by its grass roots, and have heard nothing to change my opinion of how its member countries' representatives operate, and the obscene amounts of money spent on entertainment and travel.   As for the Paralympics sailing events being dropped by the IOC, what planet are these people on? If Malcolm and petitioners can change anything (pollution or Paralympic sailing), all power to their truly democratic elbows.

* From Jim Champ: So, we armchair/weekend sailors pressurise ISAF. ISAF threatends to boycott the Olympic Venue... Sailing event gets cancelled. Will the Olympic sailors thank us do you think?

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Pieter van der Weide

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