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

Oman Sailing Committee Withdraw From Hosting 2016 Youth Worlds
World Sailing is disappointed to announce that the Oman Sailing Committee have withdrawn from hosting the 2016 Youth Sailing World Championships which were due to take place in December 2016.

The Oman Sailing Committee was able to exercise the right to withdraw, as a final contract for the hosting of the event had not been concluded. World Sailing will now immediately start to work with its Member National Authorities to rapidly identify an alternative venue for the 2016 Youth Sailing World Championships at the same time of year as the event originally planned for Oman.

Following the publication of the World Sailing statement on Discrimination on the 13 January 2016 (, World Sailing can now confirm that it has received written confirmation from all venues that have already been selected and confirmed for forthcoming World Sailing championships that they are able to guarantee full and equal participation by all, in accordance with World Sailing's Regulations.

World Sailing's action follows the clarification of the non-discrimination elements of the Olympic Charter from the International Olympic Committee Summit on 17 October 2015.

* The Israel Sailing Association (ISA) welcomed Monday's developments with satisfaction after initially being concerned that its representatives would be barred from future competitions in Arab countries despite World Sailing's announcements.

"This is a great victory for normality and for the real sporting values over politics," said ISA chairman Gili Amir. "This announcement shows that World Sailing chiefs understood the injustice suffered by the Israeli athletes and they showed that they will not accept discrimination between countries."

Fremantle Again At The Centre Of World-Class Match Racing
Fremantle, Australia: Back in 1987, the eyes of the sailing world were on Fremantle in Western Australia for the America's Cup. Now almost 30 years on, Fremantle once again hosts some of the greatest match racers of the modern era, with the 2016 World Match Racing Tour season about to commence on Wednesday.

Just as Dennis Conner and Stars & Stripes wrenched back the Cup from Australia on the turbulent waters of the Indian Ocean, Taylor Canfield and his Team US One are hoping they can exert their early advantage in a new season of the Tour, having lost out to Ian Williams and GAC Pindar in last season's finale a little over a month ago.

With the switch from the slower keelboats to high-performance M32 catamarans for future editions of the Tour, Canfield once again fancies his chances at winning another world title. TeamUS One have the benefit of more than a season competing in M32 fleet racing circuits both in the USA and Scandinavia.

The six-day regatta in Fremantle, taking place off the famous Bather's Beach, is the first of five World Championship Events across three continents - Australasia, Europe and America, all leading up to the finale of this so-called 'short season' which culminates with the World Championship in Marstrand this July.

With 20 teams competing in Fremantle, the first two days of the regatta are fleet racing, which sees the 20 split up into four groups of five boats, and each group scheduled to complete four or five back-to-back races each day. Then the second phase of the regatta moves into a knock-out match racing contest more in line with the typical elimination format of the World Match Racing Tour.

WMRT Debut For Yann Guichard
From March 2nd to 7th, Yann Guichard and his crew will make their maiden appearance in the World Match Racing Tour at the year's opening event in Fremantle (Perth), Australia. Yann is the only French skipper taking part in the 2016 championship, in which participants will race M32 catamarans.

The Spindrift racing crew compete in Copenhagen in May and Newport in June before travelling to Marstrand in Sweden for the coveted World Match Race Championship Finals in early July.

The skipper decided to select crew members he knows well, who have been competing for Spindrift racing for many years, both in regattas and offshore events. All of them were part of the Spindrift 2 crew that sailed around the world in 47 days, the second fastest time ever set on the Jules Verne Trophy course. Joining Yann on the M32 will be Christophe Espagnon, operating the mainsail, and Francois Morvan, trimming the sails, both of whom are highly skilled specialists in small monohulls. Sebastien Marsset will complete the four-man crew, adding his superb technique and physical power on the foredeck.

Dubarry Ultima - Quality Always Lasts
Dubarry Ultima It's amazing to think how sailing has changed since Dubarry started making boots in 1937. The first marina arrived in the 1930s but there were no plastic boats to park in it before the 1940s. There was no yacht radar before the 1950s, nor auxiliary diesel engines before the 1960s, also when polyester sailcloth ousted linen and cotton. The 1970s brought instrumentation and the 1980s saw Decca come and go as GPS stole the show. Oiled canvas gave way to PVC, which yielded to GORE-TEX. Much indeed has changed, yet one thing has stayed the same: nothing signifies a confident, experienced, discerning yachtie like a pair of Dubarry boots.

Developed as a more luxurious, classical and traditional interpretation of the legendary Shamrock, on which the company's reputation was built, the Ultima is Dubarry's flagship boot. Its sole delivers award-winning, sure-footed grip. Its GORE-TEX liner is waterproof and breathable to keep you warm, dry and comfortable. Its Dry-Fast-Dry-Soft water-resistant leather weathers with grace and distinction, recording every nautical mile of your experience in the gentle, tanned folds of its sumptuous hide. It's clearer than ever that, though times may change, quality always lasts.

Dubarry Ultima - Where will you go in yours?

GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series
The seventh edition of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series came down to a battle of dinghy world champions, with GP14 World Champs Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe getting the better of Fireball World Champion Tom Gillard, who campaigned over the winter with Andy Couch in a 505.

We've seen many extreme conditions during past seasons of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series, but never have we witnessed a winter as consistently windy as in 2015/16.

Going into the final event, the Rutland Challenge for the John Merricks Tiger Trophy, Ben Schooling was leading the Series after some exceptional boathandling in his Musto Skiff at previous events including the Oxford Dash which he won. But the big breeze at Rutland proved too much even for Schooling. And so it came back to a renewal of that Draycote battle between Gillard and Dobson, with Dobson again sailing his GP14 incredibly effectively in the strong winds to finish 6th at Rutland, just one place behind Gillard's Five-Oh. That was good enough to give Dobson and Tunnicliffe overall victory this season, making the GP14 the sixth dinghy class to win the overall prize in seven seasons of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series.

The prizegiving for the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series takes place at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show, with some of the prize winners and leading sailors from the Series appearing on the Main Stage on both the Saturday and Sunday at 1.45pm. Multiple Fireball and Merlin Rocket Champion and America's Cup TV pundit Richard Parslow will be the M.C., coaxing the best go-faster tips and techniques from the winners. -- Andy Rice

For full results from the Series:

Newport Bermuda Race Offers New Youth Awards
The Newport Bermuda Race is well known as a long-distance ocean adventure with a special appeal for ambitious young sailors. Many of today's skippers, navigators, and watch captains first went to sea as teenage deck hands in a "Thrash to the Onion Patch," or in a return delivery from Bermuda.

To further encourage offshore youth sailor participation, the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee announced on February 22, 2016, that it has established two new awards for young sailors, the Stephens Brothers Society and the Youth Trophy. They parallel similar projects by the Marion Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race and other races.

The youngest winning skipper in the Bermuda Race's history, age 22, is U.S. Naval Academy graduate Kyle Weaver in 1992.

Sailors between the ages of 14 and 23 who participate in the upcoming 50th Bermuda Race will be inducted into the Stephens Brothers Society, named for the legendary sailors and yacht designers Olin J. Stephens and Roderick S. Stephens, Jr.

The second new Newport Bermuda Race award for young sailors is the Youth Trophy. Crews are eligible for this prize if at least one-half the sailors (plus one person) are between 14 and 23 years old, with an average age of at least 17. The winner is the boat in the St. David's Lighthouse and Cruiser divisions that has the best performance based on cross-divisional results.

An Outstanding History
Click on image for photo gallery.

Firefly Designed in 1938 by Uffa Fox, as a one design boat suitable for team racing, the 2016 season marks the 70th Anniversary of Firefly Class; the first boats came off the production line at Fairey Marine, Hamble, in 1946. It was originally requested by Oxford and Cambridge Universities, requiring a dinghy similar to the National 12, but more suitable for team racing.

The design was completed in 1939 just prior to hostilities that would put back any ideas of production for more than six years. After the War, the Fairey Aviation Company had the idea of manufacturing a dinghy using the principles that constructed so many wooden Mosquito aircraft fuselages during the war, with diagonal laminates formed on a mould and cured by electrically heated bands holding the laminate in position.

The Firefly proved a great success in its early years with the first boats selling for just £65.00!

As the 1948 Olympics in Britain approached, there were very few dinghies available in numbers, but the Firefly could be built quickly and in volume, so was selected as the single handed sailing dinghy for the Games.

Some of the most famous names in sailing have previously raced Fireflies, including Paul Elvstrom, Bruce Banks, Richard Creagh Osborne and Jack Holt as well as current and six times World Match Racing champion Ian Williams.

To celebrate this historic milestone the class and suppliers have come together to prize draw a brand new complete boat as a prize. It will require entrants to "beg, steal or borrow" a boat and compete in any of the nominated events or qualifying via club races this season, to secure a ticket in the prize draw for a brand new boat. The more race entries equals more prize draw chances. Conditions apply so please get details of how to enter from the Firefly and Rondar websites:

$4.75 Million Paid For Nantucket Boat Slip
It's a Google dock - and this one in Nantucket, Mass., cost $4.75 million.

The rare deepwater slip in the quaint harbor of a Massachusetts island was sold last month to an entity with ties to Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet, and his wife, Wendy, a prominent Nantucket philanthropist.

That may seem like a lot for a place to dock a boat, but this is a beloved seaside town that has increasingly become a summer haven for the very rich.

And it's one of just three deepwater slips - long enough to dock a 156-foot yacht - in the harbor at the edge of a picture-postcard old whaling wharf, according to the Boston Globe.

Wendy Schmidt has taken an increasingly prominent role in island life since she bought a house on Nantucket in 1999. She launched ReMain in 2007, and has spent millions to buy properties, including a popular bookstore that was in danger of closing. She led efforts to save the island's theater and launched a culinary center last year.

She and her husband also have financed environmental and oceanographic research projects, including a massive vessel - the Falkor - that has partnered with marine researchers based in Woods Hole.

Shanghai Launches Youth Sailing Initiative
The Shanghai government recently announced a fantastic new initiative. Perhaps the feeling is with a city GDP in excess of USD 1Tr that having built the city's wealth it is time to build the city's health.

In plans released recently the city fathers announced their aim to get 13 million of the city's population actively involved in organized sport or fitness by 2025 - that's just under 10 years and an ambitious target. Having said that, Shanghai has a habit of achieving its ambitions. And it isn't just a ton of spots shoes that will be needed. A whole raft of hardware and software across all sports will have to be developed as time goes by and that included boating and the other outdoor sorts representd and promoted at the China (Shanghai) International Boat Show and its sisters.

It has been announced that over the next 5 years Shanghai Sports Bureau aims to introduce a staggering 200,000 school children to the sport of sailing. Thankfully the city is blessed with a number of sizeable lakes as this breaks down to an average of 40,000 children a year.

This of course brings along with it, a healthy percentage of parents plus a high probability that many of these kids will want to go beyond just that introduction.

If the water leisure industry in the Shanghai and Yangtze Delta region needed a shot in the arm, it looks like it might just have received it.

It Just Got Easier to Visit the China (Shanghai) International Boat Show!

A new policy means that visitors to China from 51 major countries entering through Shanghai, Hangzhou and Nanjing can now enjoy a visa free stay in China of up to 6 (six) days.

With the Shanghai Show running over 4 days this gives visitors ample to time to arrive, adjust, take in the show, a day of site-seeing (or quick factory visit) and then home. No need to write to the embassy or consulate in your locale and fill in forms. Just book flight and accommodation and come and check out the largest Boat Show in Asia in the world's fastest growing economy - with the similarly fastest growing leisure marine scene.

Check your travel agent for details and see you at the show.

The China (Shanghai) International Boat Show runs from 7th to the 10th April 2016 -- Alistair Skinner

Roger Hickman
Roger Hickman Roger Hickman, one of the true stalwarts of ocean racing and good friend to many sailors around the country, passed away in Sydney overnight and Yachting Australia offers their condolences to Sandy, his family and crew.

Fondly known as 'Hicko', Roger had over 40 years of ocean racing experience, was an active Board and Committee member at CYCA for over 20 years, President of Yachting NSW for two terms also serving as Vice President, and Chair of the Yachting NSW Special Regulations Committee for many years.

Roger and his crew on 'Wild Rose' are the current IRC Australian Champions in Division C having completed back-to-back wins at Hamilton Island in 2015 and Newcastle in 2014 and was on-board Matt Allen's Ichiban in 2004 taking out the IRC Australian Championship and IMS Australian Championship.

Roger competed in 37 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Races with much success including winning the 2014 race with Wild Rose, as Sailing Master on SAP Ausmaid winning in 2000 and was co-Skipper on Solbourne Wild Oats taking out the 1993 race.

He was an active Etchells, Dragon and Laser sailor and has an extensive list of Championships and regatta wins over many years. Roger showed a passionate commitment to safety and will be remembered as a great leader and teacher to his crews.

As a member of numerous Clubs across Australia, 'Hicko' had many friends who will miss his laughter, good company and wisdom and the sailing community has lost one of its great characters.

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