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

Les Voiles De St. Barth: Starting Off Just Right
Les Voiles de St. Barth: With winds whipping briskly at 15-20 knots, it was a lively show on the water for opening day of Les Voiles de St. Barth. 70 teams in 10 classes were raring to begin. The regatta organizers sent Spinnaker 1,2,3 and 4 plus Non Spinnaker and the Melges 24 classes on a 23-mile course that started off Gustavia Harbor and led counter-clockwise and three quarters of the way around the eight-square-mile island of St. Barth before rounding a buoy off St. Jean and heading back in a clockwise direction. For the Multihulls and the larger monohulls sailing in Maxi 1, 2 and Spinnaker 0 classes, a similar course added an extension on the far side of the island to incorporate a total of 39 miles.

Vesper had a scare yesterday when one of its side stays, made of carbon, gave way. Luckily, a rigging shop in St. Martin was able to provide a rod-rigging replacement overnight.

Vesper is sailing against two other TP52s (Sorcha and Team Varg, which finished second and fourth, respectively), but third-place Spookie poses a threat, too.

The Mod 70 Phaedo 3 handily won the seven-boat Multihull class, which was the last of the 10 classes to start. The foiling G4 Timbalero III's successful attempt to port-tack the fleet at the start looked swift, but it wasn't swift enough to hold off the giant green trimaran.

Phaedo 3 finished the long course in just over two hours and 25 minutes, approximately 34 minutes ahead of the next fastest boat in the fleet, Comanche, whose long-awaited battle with Rambler 88 yielded some answers today. Though Comanche beat Rambler by ten minutes in real time, which pleased her crew, Rambler had to be satisfied with beating Comanche on corrected time (5:04:48 compared to Comanche's 5:11:30), even with a spinnaker problem that forced them to change headsails and cost them several minutes.

In the Maxi 2 class, Lupa of London led the way today. -- Gaia Coretti

Volvo Ocean Race: Leg Five Best Navigator
"We always race with one eye on our competitors. All our major decisions are based on our position relative to the fleet as well as the weather."

Just like the other navigators, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's Simon Fisher has given his feedback to B&G for their Leg 5 Navigators Prize, and the result is out.

And guess who won? Simon - aka SiFi.

Leg 1 winner: Pascal Bidegorry, Dongfeng Race Team
Leg 2 winner: Pascal Bidegorry, Dongfeng Race Team
Leg 3 winner: Pascal Bidegorry, Dongfeng Race Team
Leg 4 winner: Libby Greenhalgh, Team SCA, and Erwan Israël, Dongfeng Race Team
Leg 5 winner: Simon Fisher, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing

Simon's comments:

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Sailing Federation Rejects Complaint Vs America's Cup Jury
Sailing's international governing body has rejected a former official's complaints of gross misconduct filed against the America's Cup jury that handed down the harshest penalty in the history of sailing's marquee regatta.

In a statement posted on its web site on Monday, the International Sailing Federation says that along with outside attorneys, it reviewed the complaints by Paul Henderson of Toronto and "considers there is no case to answer." Henderson has the right to appeal, ISAF said.

ISAF has refused to divulge which of its officials reviewed the complaints.

Henderson is a former ISAF president and a former member of the International Olympic Committee.

He filed complaints in January contending the five-member jury failed to provide a fair hearing to sailors from Oracle Team USA while investigating the biggest cheating scandal in America's Cup history. -- Bernie Wilson, AP

Rob Kothe And Richard Gladwell On The America's Cup
What is happening now in the America's Cup is not the way the event should be run, for all its crooked history.

Under the stewardship of Golden Gate Yacht Club, the event is going backwards, not forwards. Even more disappointing is the fact that during its tenure by other Defending Clubs, the group out of San Francisco were the loudest and most vociferous about the need for change and to lift the America's Cup to a much higher and better level.

Given the opportunity, and goodwill they enjoyed after their win in 2010 - the Cup has drifted. The time to make changes to the event is before entries open, not after design teams have been working for nine months.

How easy would it have been for Golden Gate Yacht Club to announce at the final media conference for the 34th America's Cup that they would defend in San Francisco, that they would do it in wingsailed, foiling multihulls and the year would be 2017? Then there would have been some certainty, and the momentum generated by the 34th America's Cup - for all its shortcomings - would have been maintained.

It would have been an equally simple matter to follow the lead of previous Cup holders and invite all potential participants to an open meeting to discuss more detailed options for the next Cup.

Instead, there was delay instead of an immediate announcement. The Challengers themselves had to call the first combined Meeting, and then the Defenders decided to repeat the exercise a few weeks later.

The issue now is that the dysfunction within the America's Cup is spilling over into other areas of sailing - affecting non-sailing fans, and non-sailing media and sponsors.

The perception of sailing now is that you spend two or three years arguing about the rules, often in Court, and then have a yacht race.

In contrast, the Volvo Ocean Race has made some big calls, which have generally paid off - and they now have the platform for a new and revitalised event that should last for several editions and which should attract more entries and more sponsors.

'For all the talk about sailor driven events, it is a fact that in any sport you can't have good sport without good administration, and that is a lesson the group from San Francisco have yet to learn.

HMS Erebus
After more than 160 years of searching to understand the fate of English explorer Sir John Franklin's fabled arctic voyage, the 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition team located one of Franklin's historic ships and thus solving one of the world's greatest archaeological mysteries.

The Victoria Strait Expedition, which was led by Parks Canada, brought together the Government of Canada and an unprecedented number of organizations from the public, private and non-profit sectors. The combination of state-of-the-art technology with 19th century Inuit oral testimony led to the discovery of HMS Erebus of the ill-fated 1845 Franklin Expedition.

The Franklin Expedition ships, Her Majesty's Ship (HMS) Erebus and HMS Terror, are an important part of Canadian history, laying the foundations of Canada's Arctic sovereignty nearly 200 years ago.

As part of OPERATION NUNALIVUT 2015, Parks Canada's underwater archaeologists and the Royal Canadian Navy's Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic will dive under the Arctic sea ice this April to study the wreck of HMS Erebus.

Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta
Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta is a unique event, an eclectic mix of owners and crew, racing traditionally built yachts, enjoying spectacular sailing and playful parties ashore.

Four days of racing are scheduled, preceded by the single-handed race and the Lunenburg Shipyard Alliance Concours d'Elegance. Yachts will be divided into different classes; Traditional, Vintage, Classic, Classic GRP and Spirit of Tradition. Not all of the yachts are wooden, some date back to the 1900's, others are modern-day reproductions. However, all of the yachts are descendent or examples of traditionally rigged displacement sailboats.

Three magnificent masterpieces returning to the regatta are the Dijkstra J Class sloop Rainbow, the 140ft Frers ketch Rebecca and the Herreshoff Classic schooner Elena.

180ft schooner Elena, launched in 2009 by Factoria Naval Marin, is a meticulous recreation of the Herreshoff design that won the 1928 Transatlantic Race. This will be the third occasion that Elena has raced at Antigua Classics, driven by 2,000 square meters of sail area, the schooner will be an impressive sight.

140ft ketch Rebecca, designed by German Frers and launched in 1999, has been a regular participant for many years, winning class on two occasions. Built at Pendennis shipyard, she is without doubt one of the finest modern sailing yachts in the world. The fine lines of Rebecca's hull, including a glorious counter, give her immense power and grace and her curved teak deck, extending from stern to bow, is a magical platform.

J Class Rainbow JH2, commissioned in 2007 and re-designed by Dykstra Naval Architects, according to the original design of William Starling Burgess Rainbow JH2 was launched in 2012, by Holland Jachtbouw. Rainbow was second in class at last year's Regatta by a single point. -- Louay Habib

Oyster BVI Regatta 2015 - Day One
Tucked into the south side of charming Tortola, the restful Nanny Cay Marina gently stirred today to the buzz of Oyster's 35th own class regatta, the sixth Oyster event here in the British Virgin Islands. It's registration day and as the final arrivals in the fleet of 15 found their berths, others here earlier popped back out for practice or more leisurely patrolled the dock peppered with sails and kit out for inspection and repacking ready for the start of racing tomorrow.

The bulk of fleet comprises regular Oyster regattistes joined this year by four first timers, Peter Blackmore's Oyster 49 Pied Piper, David and Leslie Joyce's 575 Ayesha II, Stephen Lambert's Atalanta of London, also a 575, and Ken and Diana Randall's 72 Infiniti of Cowes.

At the opposite end of attendance, is Oyster 82 Starry Night of the Caribbean with 19 race pennants to her credit, while Richard Smith, a close second, has a tally of 15 aboard his 655 Sotto Vento with remarkably the only possible missed regattas a result of his being away sailing the Oyster World Rally! Ian Galbraith on Oyster 53 Jigsaw also flies a fine line of battle flags, keenly contesting here in the Caribbean and also with friends in the Med.

Elite level fleets in all ten of the Olympic events will put their skills to the ultimate test with 40 of the world's best in each class. ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres marks the first occasion where fleets are decided based on the ISAF World Sailing Rankings and a qualification regatta.

The world's top 30 sailors from the 2 February 2015 ISAF World Sailing Rankings release were invited to Hyeres with the remaining ten receiving their spot at ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres qualification regatta, Trofeo Princesa Sofia.

From now, until 21 April, 600 Olympic sailors in 400 boats and 39 Paralympic sailors in 25 boats will train, prepare and tune up ahead of the first racing day on 22 April. A four day racing series will build up to the Medal Races on Sunday 26 April where titles will be won and ISAF Sailing World Cup Final spots snapped up.

2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup
Melbourne - 7-14 December 2014
Miami - 25-31 January 2015
Hyeres - 20-26 April 2015
Weymouth and Portland - 8-14 June 2015
Qingdao - 14-20 September 2015
2015 Final Abu Dhabi - 27 October to 1 November 2015

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 Daniel Charles: Any comparison between the current America's Cup disaster and the 12m in Freemantle in 1987 is misleading.

First, Fremantle was the first challenge after the Aussies breaking the longest winning streak (132 years!) in sport history, and it was a real, actual legend up to grabs. Second, the huge wealth increase of Alan Bond after his 1983 America's Cup victory strongly motivated sponsors: the Cup was worth it! Third, the local enthusiasm and support, by all classes and ages, has never been equalled. Fourth, these were buoyant economic times, while today's business deciders have been so scalded in the recent years that the 80's financial abandon is out of question. With time, Freemantle tends to be sacred because it's such a great memory for us who were there, but there were hiccups too: I remember a Kiwi challenger blowing two spinnakers on a windward leg...

Comparison with the 12 m era doesn't help analysing the current situation.

It is desperately simple: Oracle has lost its sugar daddy's open purse, and is short of funds. So they sell the event to the highest bidder - and don't care whether the delayed transaction leaves potential challengers high and dry, or whether the location eventually agreed to holds nil commercial attraction for many sponsors. Still they remain short of funds, and the only way out is to reduce the size of the boat and crew, which they duly ram down the throat of the few challengers left.

Never before has an agreement on the boats and the format of the racing been modified (despite the fact that the time to reach such initial agreement has been inordinately long). Never, when the NYYC was vilified for ruling the waves and waving the rules, did such thing happen.

The truth is that the present defender is out to make money, either collectively or individually, out of the America's Cup. This is in total contradiction with the intent of the donors and I do hope the disaffected challengers will bring this to court. In 1987-88, while I was in charge of the historical research which validated a catamaran in the Cup, many -including Bob Fisher- accused our group of lacking fair play because we stuck to the Deed, not to the current rules of the sport. The court eventually confirmed that approach: the America's Cup is a Deed before being a sporting event. If Sir Russell Coutts wants to create a series of which he'll be the Bernie Ecclestone, let him do his own (as Mark Turner did with the Extreme series). But he cannot hijack the Auld Mug for his own purpose.

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Back On Friday
There will be no Thursday issue this week, as your humble narrator will be searching for his lost youth on Wednesday. And given that I hit the big 6-0 that day, I'm not likely to find it. I shall console myself with some very old whisky and my-not-very-old wife and children. The latter will pretend for a day that I'm still cool.

The Last Word
Now that I'm 60, every morning I look in the mirror and say, "I don't know who you are, stranger, but I'm gonna shave you anyway." -- Milton Friedman

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