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

Tell us your favourite bar, the seventh annual Wight Vodka Best Yachting Bar competition in on!

Rolex Sydney Hobart
After a decade of, by Rolex Sydney-Hobart standards, comparatively benign weather the race has returned with a vengeance to its classic persona.

The mean southerly that made life hell for sailors off the NSW south coast last night is at last abating, but it has taken a huge toll on the fleet.

Before the southerly buster kicked in there were five boats out of the race, now there are 29, an attrition rate of 27 per cent and the race still has at least another two days to run.

That's starting to get close to the really tough 2004 race when 58 of a fleet of 117 retired; 50 per cent.

The latest casualties include Peter Harburg's Queensland Volvo 70 Black Jack, which returned to Jervis Bay to transfer an injured crew member with a suspected fractured leg. The crew member s being transferred by ambulance to the nearby naval base for medical assistance.

The retirees at 2130 last night were:

Cougar II
Lupa of London
M3 - broken forestay
Dare Devil - rudder damage - returning to Sydney
CEX Dolce - broken mast
Wild Oats XI - mainsail damage
St Jude - rudder
Perpetual Loyal - rudder
KOA - steering
Pazzaz - mainsail
Pretty Fly III - broken forestay
Brindabella - sail
Takani - rudder
Patrice - mainsail
Dekadence - electronics Issues
Samurai Jack - sail damage
HASPA Hamburg - rig
Black Jack - returning to Jervis Bay
KLC Bengal 7 - mainsail
Frantic - mainsail
Triton - mainsail
Hollywood Boulevard - hull
Great Xpectations
Landfall - hull
China Easyway - sail damage
Jaffa - starter motor

* Sailing his 50th race is Tony Cable, on Damien Parkes' Judel/Vrolijk 52, Duende. Duende is still in the race, in 67th place for line honours, 12th in Corinthian Class.

Cable was co-founder of a social event dubbed the Quiet Little Drink, a post-race fete in Hobart that lasted for 30 years.

"In 1969, we decided to have a quiet little drink, the trouble was that we invited all the mates along," Cable said. "And it turns out they wrote down all the beers we drank, and it turned out we had 1,467 by the end. So we declared it a raging success and did it again the next year and drank 2,500. The most we ever had was about 23,000."

The biggest round of drinks, or "shout", of 3,333 was donated by the Irish Southern Cross Cup team in 1982.

* In the Clipper 70 fleet, Da Nang - Vietnam is in first place with 304 nm to go.

Americans Threaten Annexation
The crippled American supermaxi Comanche has extended her lead over the similarly damaged Rambler.

In the middle of the race's wild first night southerly bashathon Ken Read was considering going home? Something had taken off most of Comanche's starboard side dagger-board and rudder. Read told the Race Director at the Cruising Yacht Club in Sydney it was all over.

But then he decided that they had come so far, damned if they wouldn't finish this race. He called Sydney back.

Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin 100 is the latest of the supermaxis to suffer daggerboard problems in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, but in this case, it is the port daggerboard, and it has completely sheared off, forcing the crew to use desperate measures to continue in the 628-nautical mile race.

With the giant American super maxi Comanche looking certain to carry off the line honours trophy in the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart, second-placed Rambler may yet live to console herself with the biggest prize of all: the Tattersall's Cup for the outright winner, the one that performs best according to its size.

Throughout the morning the smallest boats, way back on the other side of Bass Strait, have led the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's race overall, with Rambler the only big boat currently in the top 10.

For the past two hours, Rambler has steadily climbed the handicap ladder and now sits at second place, behind Enchantress, the little home-built cedar Muirhead 11 from South Australia, sailed gamely by John Willoughby.

And the forecast, at this stage, isn't looking good for the littlies either. There is a distinct absence of breeze predicted for Bass Strait tomorrow, precisely when the back-markers need it. -- Jim Gale, RSHYR Media

Top five places at press time, 330 PM local time December 28

1. Comanche, 59 nm to finish
2. Rambler, 83
3. Ragamuffin, 128
4. Maserati, 177
5. Chinese Whisper, 203

ISAF Youth Worlds
The chairman of the Israel Sailing Association Amir Gill said Yoav Omer and Noy Drihan would not be taking part in the international surfing competition here Sunday as both athletes have yet to receive their visas 24 hours before their scheduled departure, The Jerusalem Post reported on December 23,2015

The World Sailing (formerly ISAF) Youth Championships organisers were also accused forbidding Israeli sailors from carrying their country's flag or wearing any symbol on their attire and boards to show their country of origin. Further it was reported that Israel's national anthem will also not be played if either athletes win the gold medal, as is customary in sporting competitions.

Yoav Omer previously won the Gold Medal for the Boys in the RS:X and Heller Hadar placed 7th in the Girls 2014 ISAF Youth Worlds sailed in Portugal.

The reason given by the Malaysian Government is that Visas have not been issued because Malaysia does not have any diplomatic ties with Israel.

The tactic of withholding visas, and hiding behind governmental policies and protocols was a favorite ploy of South African authorities to control the entry of non-white sports people to South Africa for international competition during the Apartheid era. -- Richard Gladwell in

* Statement from the Israel Sailing Federation

The organizers of the competition in Malaysia conditioned the participation of Israeli athletes at the World Championships for Youth compete without an Israeli flag without symbols associated with the state of Israel on clothing and sailboards and forbid playing the Israeli national anthem on the podium of winning medals in the event, as well as the imposition of confidential communications on Israel's participation in the event.

Gili Amir added, "Malaysian demands are unacceptable and since that we did not get the Visas we decided not to participate. We condemn the anti-athlete conduct of the organizing committee of the competition. We will not accept being humiliated and we look to make a claim against the Malaysian Yachting Authority in coordination with the IOC Israel."

* Statement from ISAF

World Sailing is aware of recent news articles regarding Israel's attendance at the upcoming Youth Sailing World Championships in Langkawi, Malaysia.

World Sailing has been in liaison with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Malaysian Olympic Committee, the Israel Sailing Federation and the Organising Authority of the 2015 Youth Sailing World Championships to grant Israeli sailors and coaches entry into Malaysia for the event.

Israeli sailors were granted entry by the Malaysian Authorities under certain conditions that competitors sailing in Langkawi have to adhere to. World Sailing were informed on 24 December by the Israeli Sailing Federation of their decision not to send representatives in the Boys and Girls windsurfing events in Langkawi.

* From ISAF President:

World Sailing President Mr Carlo Croce - regarding Israel's attendance at the upcoming Youth Sailing World Championships in Langkawi, Malaysia.

As with all diplomatic issues this is quite a delicate matter. World Sailing is aware of the current commentary in the public arena, and have reason to believe that some of the comments may not be accurate or possibly based on misunderstandings.

World Sailing is committed to ensuring participation in our sport by competitors from all nations, and is taking this issue seriously.

A member of the World Sailing Executive is on route to Malaysia to investigate this issue and is seeking clarification from the Malaysian Organising Authority.

World Sailing expects the organising authority of its events to allow sailors from all nations to compete on an equal basis. This expectation is made clear in the bid process and is set out in the contractual documentation governing our events.

World Sailing is not in a position to comment on this further until our investigation is complete.

* From Olympic medallist Kevin L. Burnham, USA on Tom Ehman's Facebook wall:

"As an Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist, I am ashamed to be associated with Sailing as an Olympic Sport with this [Malaysian] decision! Take my medals and shove them up yours!!!!!!!!!!!"

143 And Counting...Entries Climbing For 2016 Quantum Key West Race Week
Quantum Key West Race Week The number of entries to the 2016 edition of Quantum Key West Race Week has exceeded 100, indicating one of the strongest early turnouts in years to this mainstay on the international sailing calendar held over January 17-22, 2016. Currently there are 16 classes organized: nine one-design and seven monohull and multihull classes racing under handicap. This indicates a diverse range of boat types attracted to race in the winter sun in Key West, with teams from 10 nations represented among the entries thusfar.

One design classes include the following: Melges 24's (16 entries), J/70's (38 entries), J/80's (5 entries), Farr 280's (5 entries), J/88's (8 entries), C&C 30's (11 entries), J/111's (9 entries), and J/122's (2 entries).

Among the handicap classes, IRC 0, 1 and 2 have thus far attracted 15 committed entries, and the three new class offered at this year's event are also gaining interest: ORC Club (14 entries), Multihulls (2 entries) and Performance Cruisers (7 entries).

Besides providing the best in race management on the water, organizers from the Storm Trysail Club will enhance the shoreside experience for all entries with afternoon seminars, evening prizegivings and social events, and full logistic support through their partners and vendors on the unique ambience offered by time spent in Old Town Key West.

For more information and to enter 2016 Quantum Key West Race Week, visit

"We're Heading Straight Into The Wind"
Off the coast of Uruguay, after a very slow night, the boat has picked up speed this morning. The men on IDEC SPORT now face three days of tacking upwind.

The fight is on. The men are battling it out in calm patches. As they clocked up their 35th day at sea during the night, they were sailing in a wind hole. "Sometimes we were down to less than three knots," explained Francis Joyon on the link-up this Sunday lunchtime.

"We've picked up some wind," explained Francis Joyon, "but now we are heading straight into the wind. That means we'll be tacking upwind for the around three days to make progress towards the north." It is only after that that "we'll then have an easterly wind."

The ETA at the Equator will of course be affected by this tricky climb back up the South Atlantic, unless the high moves back to the east. Meanwhile, on board the big, red trimaran, the crew is beginning to appreciate warmer temperatures as they make their way back to more clement latitudes.

Looking Forward To The Trade Winds
Spindrift 2 is still heading upwind on a difficult trajectory, in a South Atlantic complicated by lots of transitions.The speedometer is witness to this difficult phase of weather for the sailors on board, who are now registering a 357 mile deficit on the record time. So, there is total concentration at the chart table by the weather group composed of Yann Guichard and Erwan Israel (on board) and Jean Yves Bernot (on land). They are plotting the exit of the black and gold trimaran from this area, and trying to get further north as soon as possible to be ready for the shift which should enable them to finally reach the trade winds by the end of the day tomorrow.

Day 36 - 16h00 GMT
357.09 nm behind the current record holder
Distance covered from the start: 21,964 nm
Average speed over 24 hours: 12.8 knots
Distance over 24 hours: 307.4 nm

At 10:00 GMT Dec 28, IDEC is 769 nm behind where Banque Populaire was on the same number of days sailed. IDEC is making 20 knots and is farther east than Spindrift 2.

Tracker for Spindrift, IDEC and historical for Banque Populaire:

Best Yachting Bar
Plas Heli With over 20,000 votes cast so far, it's a three horse race with Plas Heli, Wales in first, The Pier View, Cowes in second, and the Candy Store of Newport RI USA in third.

Here's what one reader had to say about Plas Heli (the only one of the top three that your humble narrator has yet to visit.... I think I'll have to have Robo buy me a few rounds there next time we're both in Wales).

"Always a warm welcome here at this modern bar in the iconic Plas Heli,Welsh National Sailing Academy with spectacular traditional views over Snowdonia."

Bit of a stunner archtecturally as well, the building was designed by Ellis Williams Architects.

Vote for your favourite here:

Kite Strings
Seahorse Magazine Full hoist to full douse in under four seconds...

The TP52 Class is perhaps today's most important platform for research and development projects in grand prix monohulls. In 2015 nine new boats were built, creating a great opportunity to develop new products and systems to increase performance. Harken accepted the challenge and applied their engineering experience to developing new solutions for winch and pedestal transmission systems, hydraulic systems and block designs.

Another area to which Harken dedicated R&D resources is the spinnaker retrieval system, commonly called a string drop system. Dousing the spinnaker, whether symmetrical or asymmetrical, has traditionally been a slow and an occasionally even dangerous manoeuvre. There is a lot to be gained at the bottom mark if the kite can get safely below without having bodies forward of the mast that would be better applied turning winches or bent over lifelines.

Full story in the February issue of Seahorse magazine:

Recovery Team Headed To SMA
After Paul Meilhat was injured and helicoptered off the IMOCA 60 SMA in mid-December, rough seas have foiled two attempts to put crew aboard the yacht, which is now 800 miles off shore and drifting towards Ireland.

A team of four sailors used to conduct these operations has been established. The crew onboard a robust 15-meter sailboat with a semi-rigid. The expedition was long, at least 4 days at sea will be required to travel to area. SMA is currently located more than 800 miles offBrittany. The aim is to carry two people aboard SMA, depending on weather conditions on site.

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 Dick Enersen: In response to (my old friend) Malcolm's diatribe, let me agree with (my old friend) Fish and reaffirm that the Super 12 concept is not intended to replace the America's Cup regatta, or threaten the existence of the classic 12 Metre in any way.

Further, to (my old friend) hyphenated Butch's point, (my old friend) Ehman's S12 is intended to provide interesting sail racing for far less than "eye-watering amounts of money."

* From Les Crane, Chair, Antigua Bermuda Race 2017
re: Don Street's note that the 2017 Bermuda Antigua race will not be the first Antigua Bermuda race.

Yes we hope for better wind in 2017. It will a matter of how the Bermuda High develops. We've had slow Newport - Bermuda Races and fast ones. We have a time limit on the race and silver for those who opt for the Iron Genny.

The important thing is to have some fun getting to Bermuda for the America's Cup party!

Featured Brokerage
Raceboats Only 1989 Farr 45. 70,000 GBP. Located in Hamble, UK.

Alice 2 - The last Farr 45 ever built is now available. This tried and tested racer still has lots left to offer its next owner. A turn key proposition that has had a professional boat captain ever since its commissioning. A great opportunity to get into this timeless fleet.


Sam Pearson - Ancasta Port Hamble

See the collection at

The Last Word
When you stop believing in Santa Claus , you start getting clothes for Christmas presents.

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