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

On Vacation
Your humble narrator and his lovely bride have had quite enough of sleet storms, thank you, and are fleeing to the sun and sands of Cancun for the week.

We'll return for the Monday February 23rd issue.

Play nice, sail safely...

Team SCA and Team Brunel Make Big Inroads By Going North
A brave strategy to strike out north from the rest of the fleet looked like it was paying big dividends for Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) and Team Brunel (Bouwe Bekking/NED) on Thursday as Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race stood intriguingly poised.

MAPFRE (Xabi Fernández/ESP) held the lead at 0640 UTC, narrowly ahead of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR), overall race leaders, Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) and Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA).

But all four of them would gladly swap places with Team Brunel and Team SCA, who were surfing along in two to three knots more breeze, at around 14-16 knots, to the north of the main pack. The route the breakaway pair is taking is roughly 300 nautical miles (nm) further than their rivals, but the extra pressure should catapult them ahead nevertheless.

They have just under 4,700nm of the 5,264nm fourth stage from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand, to sail, and, in around a week's time, the boats will converge again near an area of Doldrums in the north Pacific.

Davies and her Team SCA crew will not know for at least a week whether the gamble to sail towards Taiwan - in apparently totally the opposite direction from their destination in New Zealand - will have paid off in full.

But already, some of their rivals have accepted that, for once, it will be their turn to be chasing the women sailors for long parts of the race through the Pacific.

First Optimist Euros In Britain
Four-time Laser World Championship medalist Nick Thompson has hailed the Optimist European Championships as "the event that started it all for me" as Great Britain prepares to welcome the regatta for the first time ever this summer.

British Sailing Team star Thompson, the first Brit to ever win the Optimist Europeans title in Athens in 1999, is set to drop by the International Optimist Class Association (UK) stand at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show on Saturday 28 February ahead of the 2015 Optimist Europeans being hosted at Pwllheli Sailing Club, Wales from 17-24 July.

Thompson, who recently won silver at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, was named YJA Young Sailor of the Year for his history-making achievement in 1999. In total he competed in three European, World and National Optimist Championships, before progressing into the Laser Radial, winning the 2002 Youth European Championships, and later Laser gold at the 2004 ISAF Youth World Championships.

The Optimist European Championships are excited to be unveiling at least one major new event partner at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show, while taking the opportunity to discuss potential sponsorship opportunities with a number of other companies.

J Class To Be Part Of The 2017 America's Cup In Bermuda
The J Class Association (JCA) has announced that the J Class has accepted an invitation from the Organisers of the 2017 America's Cup to participate in a J Class regatta during the AC35 event. All eight J Class yachts are expected in Bermuda, with a minimum of six anticipated to compete in the J Class regatta - the first time in history more than five J Class yachts have ever raced against each other.

"The J Class era of the America's Cup is widely recognised as being among the high points in Cup history," said Russell Coutts, director of the America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA).

"When racing for the America's Cup in the 1930s, the J Class boats embodied grace and power with cutting-edge design and engineering. Having the J Class join us in Bermuda will create a spectacular blend between the old and new."

Berthed at the centre of the Race Village, the J Class fleet will showcase the heritage and tradition of the America's Cup. The yachts will also be at the heart of the action with their own exclusive four day regatta.

The current J Class fleet comprises seven yachts, including two of the original Js that raced for the America's Cup. The seven J Class yachts sailing are: Endeavour, Hanuman, Lionheart, Rainbow, Ranger, Shamrock V and Velsheda. J8 is due to be launched in May 2015, taking fleet strength to eight - the first time that eight Js have been sailing since 1934.

Tall Ship Astrid - MCIB Report
If the initial MAYDAY message from the Sail Training Ship Astrid had been sent out in the correct format the emergency services could have been activated 10 minutes earlier, which could have been critical to the final outcome had conditions been more severe, according to a Marine Casualty Investigation Report (MCIB) published today.

The 95-year-old vessel ran aground on to Rocks off Kinsale during a photocall for the Irish Sailing Association Gathering Cruise promotion, prompting dramatic scenes as 30 people were rescued from rough seas. The vessel ran aground on July 24th 2013.

The main cause of the grounding is that the ship was not operated in a safe manner in compliance with the International Conventions, the report says.

In its conclusions the MCIB states: 'The correct passage planning procedures should have been carried out and the Master should not have altered his passage in an unsafe manner to facilitate promotional activities'.

The report also concluded that passage planning of the voyage from Oysterhaven to Kinsale was inadequate for a ship to navigate a course within 300 (m) of a lee shore in a Force 6 wind. The report says passage planning appears to have been influenced by the 'desire for photograph opportunities' for the Irish Sailing Association's (ISA) 'Gathering' cruise. The report says SOLAS Chapter V Regulation 34 was not complied with.

A link to download the report as a (17mb) PDF file is HERE:

Seahorse March 2015
What's in the Latest Edition Of Seahorse Magazine

Seahorse Magazine

There was never going to be any shortage of enthusiasm when Luca Devoti sat down with designer Juan Kouyoumdjian to create an all-new Finn

The Magic Carpet story
Maxi champion Sir Lindsay Owen Jones discusses one of the most successful big boat projects with longtime crew Blue Robinson

Terry Hutchinson is the 2014 Rolex USA Yachtsman of the Year, Jack Griffin unravels the testing process for 2017 America's Cup teams and insurance specialist Richard Power takes a lateral look at the Team Vestas grounding

Special rates for Scuttlebutt Europe subscribers:
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New National 18
The new Phil Morrison designed National 18 will be launched to the public at the 2015 RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show, which takes place over the weekend of 28 February/1 March at Alexandra Palace, London.

This new hull design was unanimously adopted by the class at its 2014 AGM and with fifteen boats already on order for 2015, production is in full swing at White Formula, the new official builder for the National 18.

The naming ceremony for the first new boat will take place at 14.30 on the Saturday of the show at the National 18 stand B24. Designer Phil Morrison and builder Rob White will be in attendance and all are welcome to join the celebration and inspect the new boat.

The introduction of this new National 18 design is the culmination of an extensive development and testing programme. A prototype named 'Odyssey' was launched in October 2013 and has been trialled to rave reviews by upwards of 150 people at venues around England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. She is sleek, responsive and a joy to sail in all conditions. As well as being lighter, faster, easier to sail and more comfortable to crew than previous 18s, she is also easier to launch and bring ashore and capsize recovery is improved.

From Afloat magazine

John Jr Kennedy's Childhood Sailboat Goes Up For Auction
Click on image to enlarge.

Scallop John Jr. and Caroline Kennedy's childhood sailboat will be part of an upcoming live boat for auction event by Boston, MA based RR Auction.

Built in Massachusetts and mainly used in the Mediterranean, measuring 12 feet long by 6 feet wide. The boat, constructed in the Winter of 1969-1970, exhibits the original builder's plate on which is stamped, "Old Beetle Cat, No. 1426, Concordia Co. Inc., South Dartmouth, Mass."

It has been restored to its original colors, with a sky blue deck and a bright yellow hull. The unusually colored original paint became evident when the boat was stripped down to bare wood and was additionally confirmed in a letter from Caroline Kennedy. On the stern's transom is fastened contemporary cast bronze letters placed in the original drill holes, spelling out the boat's name as christened by the Kennedys, "Scallop."

The boat was commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1969, shortly after her Fall 1968 marriage to shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. The boat was then shipped overseas for John Jr. and Caroline Kennedy to learn to sail while in Greece and returned to Hyannis Port in the 1970s. Jackie later sold it to the Gallaghers, a well-respected Hyannis Port family, and Peter Eastman purchased it from them in the early 2000s.

Bidding begins February 12-18, followed by a live auction event on February 19 that will take place at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. More details can be found online here

Runnerup, Again
When I wrote my history of the race, A Berth to Bermuda, in 2006, one theme wove its way through the narrative: Anyone who wishes to win the oldest of all ocean races must be prepared to be bold in choosing strategy and tactics. Richard B. Nye, who with his father and three Carinas won two races and almost a third, told me, "We used to swing for the fences a lot." Jim McCurdy designed Carinas and sailed with the Nyes, as did his daughters, Hope and Sheila. They learned the lesson well: don't be afraid to take a chance.

On the night before the start, Sheila spread out a multi-hued satellite image of the racecourse, pointed to a big circular eddy north of the Gulf Stream, and said, with her characteristic decisiveness, "We're going there." There was a waypoint 50 miles west of the rhumb line and placed near the top of a big clockwise-swirling circular eddy. In the southwesterly wind that was forecast, getting there meant sailing close-hauled, hard on the wind, for more than 100 miles.

Did we do it? The short answer is yes. After we reached Bermuda, while wandering the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club piers looking at boats and picking up chitchat about the race, I overheard someone say this: "It's not hard to win a Bermuda Race. Get a good start, sail west, then collect your trophy." I wish it were that easy, but that's not a bad outline. -- John Rousmaniere

Read the whole story of John Rousmaniere's 2008 Newport Bermuda Race adventure online at

Ted Irwin
Ted Irwin of Irwin Yachts died last week in Arkansas four years after learning he had cancer. He was 74.

The well-known owner of a former St. Petersburg yacht-and-sailboat-building business died in Little Rock, where he was receiving cancer treatments.

The face of Irwin Yachts, he had been battling multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood cells, since a diagnosis four years ago, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Irwin grew up building boats in Pinellas County and made millions through his enterprise, which at its peak was known as one of the largest independent yacht builders in the United States.

Within a year of the opening, the business moved to a larger space in St. Petersburg and quickly grew to more than 300 employees. But by the 1980s, around the time of her parents' divorce, Irwin Yachts began to crumble, Payne said. In early 1990 the business built its last boat.

Irwin is survived by his first wife, Jean DeRosay Irwin, and their two children. He has two grandchildren. In the late 1980s, Irwin married Karen Pilcher. The couple had two children.

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 Mark Turner: Whilst I agree to a certain extent with the comments of Andy Dare regarding PR sometimes overstating conditions (not all PROs have deep sailing knowledge, give them some leeway maybe), and we all miss the big Southern Ocean legs in the modern day Volvo Ocean Race - I do think he should take a spin on a Volvo Ocean 65 upwind in 25 knots of wind (37 knots apparent), in some of the strongest underwater currents in the world, just to see just how miserable and hard life is onboard. For 95% of sailors, and 100% of non-sailors, the living conditions onboard would shock the hell out of them. So fully agree about keep the story real and honest, its an OC mantra since year dot, share the good and the bad as they are, but equally remember that sailing in 25 knots of wind on a nice day on the Solent, is not the same as racing 110% north of the Philippines on a VO65. Its really not. Try it.

(And before someone replies that all PR people SHOULD have great sailing knowledge - there aren't so many qualified people, that can also take professional sailing stories out to wider audience as well - necessary for justifying the sponsorship dollars).

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