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

Home Team Oman Air Prepares For Muscat Extreme Sailing Series Opener
A new era for Oman Sail dawns this week when new skipper Morgan Larson takes the helm of their new foiling GC32 Oman Air in a bid to become the first winners of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series in front of a passionate home crowd in Muscat.

But before racing gets underway at the spectacular Al Mouj Golf Course on Thursday, the fleet of GC32s will race a series of open water races off the coast of Muscat Old Town before setting off on a coastal race back to Al Mouj - another new feature of racing this year - as a prelude to the hard and fast four-day event, which Larson believes will provide a 'tell-tale' sign of what lies ahead for 2016.

"Performances here in Muscat will provide a clue for the season," said Larson who skippered Oman Air in 2012 when they finished in second place.

Larson takes over from Leigh McMillan who in his tenure as skipper of Oman Sail's The Wave, Muscat became the most successful Extreme sailor in history and he is confident that Pete Greenhalgh, Ed Smyth and Nasser Al Mashari, all stalwarts of McMillan's crew with a winning habit, will meet the challenges of a brand new contest.

The action starts on Wednesday 16 March with coastal racing in front of Muscat's Old Town before the teams fight it out on the Al Mouj Golf Course Stadium track the following day.

Fans around the globe can watch the racing live online on the official event website at the following times:

Friday 18 March: 1600-1730 GMT+4
Saturday 19 March: 1530-1700 GMT+4

New Mediterranean Circuit Announced For M32 Series
Aston Harald Sports, the rights owner of the successful M32 Series for high performance M32 multihulls, today announced the launch of a new M32 Series Mediterranean. The series will start in June in France followed by events in Riva Del Garda, and Crotone in Italy, with the finals in Spain in October.

The M32 Series Mediterranean will be managed by events company BPSE based in Milan, Italy and headed by prominent Italian sailor and event director Riccardo Simoneschi. BPSE has run a number of high profile projects in the TP52 and Star classes, and most recently the successful Audi Tron Sailing Series for the Melges class.

Teams from Italy, France, Spain, Scandinavia and the US have already registered their interest in joining the five-stage Mediterranean series. Swiss match racer and skipper of EFG Bank Sailing Team, Christopher Rast, and Guido Miani from the Yacht Club de Monaco, are both looking forward to the start of the series.

Interested teams for the M32 Series Mediterranean are invited to contact Riccardo Simoneschi at

A Host Of Sailing Stars Unite
The Island Sailing Club, the organisers of the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, are delighted to welcome back last year's Gold Roman Bowl winner, Giovanni Belgrano and Whooper. This duck-egg blue 1939 Laurent-Giles one-off, is owned and skippered by Giovanni who comments that he is bringing the same group of friends who are eager for another lap of the Isle of Wight on Saturday, July 2nd!

Also back on the start line is Alex Thomson skippering the 2015 IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss. When Alex competed in 2008 he was joined on board by none other than F1 driver Lewis Hamilton (2008, 2014 & current World Champion) and Ben Ainslie.

Alex's new 60ft racing yacht has been designed by VPLP/Verdier and the Alex Thomson Racing Team and built at Green Marine in Southampton. The yacht has been built entirely of carbon fibre/

One of British sailing's golden girls and part of Team Volvo, Helena Lucas MBE, is returning to skipper a chartered Elan 450 Squire Patton Bogs.

Racing in their own new class this year are the Fast 40+ boats of which five are currently signed up with more expected. Currently skippers include Peter 'Morty' Morton and Girls on Film, his new Carkeek 40 Mk3 Fast 40, Sir Keith Mills and his Ker40+ Invictus, Tony Dickin's GP42 Jubileeand Michael Bartholomew's Tokoloshe II, a 2009 GP42 modified. -- Peta Stuart-Hunt

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?

New Hands On The Helm At Cruising Club Of America
The CCA started the next chapter of its history during this year's Annual Meeting, held March 4 at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan, when James Binch of New Canaan, Conn., and W. Bradford Willauer of Prouts Neck, Maine, were installed as Commodore and Vice Commodore, respectively.

Binch explained that of the 1300 international CCA members, a significant 68% own a sailboat larger than 30 feet. "To be a member you have to have sailed several thousand miles offshore as either a watch captain, navigator or skipper," said Binch, who joined the organization in 1991. "But we are not just an organization of cruising sailors as our name might imply. There are hard core racers too: 25% of the skippers in the Transatlantic Race 2015 were CCA members."

Vice Commodore Brad Willauer is also a veteran Newport Bermuda race participant (18 times) and prize winner, including podium finishes in the last three editions of the iconic race. He learned to sail at Prouts Neck Yacht Club in Maine, where he has been Commodore (1973-75) as well as a fleet champion in the Yngling and Sonar classes. His sailing resume includes the Marion Bermuda, Halifax and Transatlantic (Bermuda to Spain) Races, while his cruising itinerary has found him in Croatia, Greece, Thailand, Turkey, the Caribbean, British Columbia and the Thousand Islands.

The CCA and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club are this year celebrating the 90th anniversary as co-organizers of the biennial Newport Bermuda Race, and will send roughly 190 boats off on the 635-nautical mile race for the 50th time on June 17.

Shipwreck Discovered From Explorer Vasco Da Gama's Fleet
The oldest shipwreck from Europe's Golden Age of Exploration has been found off the coast of Oman, the country's Ministry of Heritage and Culture announced on Tuesday. The wreck is believed to be that of the Esmeralda, which was part of a fleet led by legendary Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama during his second voyage to India (1502-1503).

The wreck was initially located in 1998 and excavated between 2013 and 2015 by a partnership between the Oman Ministry of Heritage and Culture and the shipwreck recovery company Bluewater Recoveries Ltd., which is directed by David Mearns. Support for the project was provided by the National Geographic Society Expeditions Council.

Analysis of the thousands of objects recovered from the wreck is ongoing, but researchers have concluded in an interim report that the vessel belonged to da Gama's fleet - and is in all probability the Esmeralda. Their conclusion is based on extraordinary artifacts that include a Portuguese coin minted for trade with India (one of only two coins of this type known to exist) and stone cannonballs engraved with what appear to be the initials of Vincente Sodre, da Gama's maternal uncle and the commander of the Esmeralda.

If this is indeed a wreck from da Gama's 1502-1503 fleet, it will be the earliest ship from the Age of Exploration ever to be found and excavated.

Congressional Cup Countdown
Long Beach, California: The world's top-ranked match racing skippers come to Southern California April 5 to 10, in what promises to be a peerless sailing spectacle: the 52nd Congressional Cup regatta, hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club (LBYC).

Reigning World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) Champion Ian Williams (GBR), fresh off a win at the WMRT 2016 season opener in Fremantle, Australia, returns; in an effort to topple two-time defending Congressional Cup champion Taylor Canfield (ISV), and recapture the title he won in 2011 and 2012.

In fact, seven of World Sailing's top ten ranked skippers will compete, with five more spirited opponents nipping at their heels: including two skippers who will earn their berths in the April 1 to 3 Ficker Cup Presented by Porsche.

The Congressional Cup is the only keelboat event in the five-stop WMRT. Recently, the other venues changed to a one-design, high performance M32 catamaran platform.

Racing takes place April 6 to 10 starting at roughly 11:30AM daily.

Ian Williams, GBR
Taylor Canfield, ISV
Bjorn Hansen, SWE
Eric Monnin, SUI
Sam Gilmour, AUS
Chris Steele, NZL
Keith Swinton, AUS
Phil Robertson, NZL
Nicolai Sehested, DEN
Sally Barkow, USA
Ficker Cup 1st, TBA
Ficker Cup 2nd, TBA

RORC Domestic Season To Start With An Easter Flourish
The RORC Easter Challenge Friday 25 - Sunday 27 March is the opening event for a long season of offshore racing.

Designed as a 'training whilst racing' regatta, the RORC Easter Challenge is a great way to blow away the winter cobwebs and get world class on-the-water coaching from a team of experienced sailors under the guidance of Jim Saltonstall, and includes the North U Regatta Services coaching team from the USA.

April sees the start of the domestic RORC Season's Points Championship with the opening offshore race, the Cervantes Trophy from Cowes to Le Havre on the 30th April. The Cervantes is followed by the North Sea Race from Harwich to Scheveningen on the 6th May and the very popular De Guingand Bowl which is a coastal race around marks in the Channel on 14th May. The Cervantes Trophy and De Guingand Bowl races will form part of the British team selection trails for the Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup in July.

RORC continue to experiment with Virtual Marks
This season the RORC will continue to develop its experience with virtual marks. In an effort to even out the tidal effect on a yacht the RORC will vary the length of the course to suit different size and speed of yachts. Faster boats will sail a greater distance than smaller boats and the results will be based on average speed.

"This is a new initiative the club is trying in a couple of races this year," said RORC Racing Manager Nick Elliott. "The legs of the courses can be set in the same direction but with increased mileage for the faster boats; the hope being that boats sail in the same tidal conditions for a similar amount of time making the result fairer."

Race Program

Ian Walker And Crew Arrive In London
Six celebrities and a high-profile yacht skipper who set sail from Belfast, Northern Ireland, for a five-day charity challenge dubbed 'Hell on High Seas' arrived in London on Friday night in a blaze of glory.

Host of BBC's The One Show, Alex Jones, along with fellow presenters Angellica Bell, Ore Oduba and Suzi Perry, as well as comedians Hal Cruttenden and Doon Mackichan sailed a Volvo Ocean 65 monohull yacht skippered by Ian Walker, the first British captain to win the Volvo Ocean Race. Other well-known professional sailors onboard included Team SCA's Dee Caffari and Sara Hastreiter, Walkers' Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crewmate Phil Harmer, Dongfeng Race Team's Graham Tourell and Volvo Ocean Race meteorologist Gonzalo Infante.

Over five eventful days and 800 nautical miles, the celebrity crew faced gale-force winds, 10-foot waves that nearly capsized the yacht, seasickness and sleep deprivation on the way to raising over £1m for the Sport Relief charity. They also spent a night sheltering from the storm in Plymouth Harbour and received a surprise visit from a UK Coastguard rescue helicopter.

During a routine training exercise, the UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Lydd dropped in for a surprise visit to the Sport Relief Hell on High Seas yacht, just off the Kent Coast.

The Yacht Master gave permission over the radio for winchman, Garry Stewart to be lowered on board

British round-the-world sailor, Alex Thomson, has unveiled yet another death-defying stunt.

Having established himself as a daredevil of the sport of sailing, this latest stunt involves Thomson, on a kiteboard, chasing his IMOCA open 60 HUGO BOSS boat upwind and attaching himself via a rope to the top of the boat's mast. The skipper then utilises the speed of the race boat to propel himself 280ft into the air, sending him surfing above the vast HUGO BOSS yacht.

2016 J/70 Worlds
The St. Francis Yacht Club has a long history of hosting World Championship for a wide variety of classes of sailboats. In 2016, the club is excited to be hosting the J/70 Class for its third World Championship event from September 24th- October 1st. As of the end of January, there were already 20 boats from 7 nations registered.

One week before the Worlds is the Rolex Big Boat Series, which the J/70's are invited to sail in. With 100+ boats and racing on a variety of courses around the bay, it's a great opportunity to get used to the San Francisco Bay, the courses that the Worlds will be raced on, and the local conditions. The NOR is posted and registration is open. August 1st is the deadline for entries for RBBS- register here:

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact the J/70 Worlds Regatta Chair- Susan Ruhne- email-

Gunboat Yacht Is Found After A Year Adrift
Fourteen months after Rainmaker, a 55-foot Gunboat, was abandoned in the Atlantic Ocean, members of Oracle Team USA spotted the fully intact hull at sea.

They saw the boat while they were on a fishing trip off Bermuda, and a 40-foot Luhrs charter fishing boat called Tenacious hauled it in, according to Gunboat founder Peter Johnstone.

"The Gunboat 55 Rainmaker is still in one piece and floating," Johnstone said on his Facebook page. "Found and apparently under tow [after] 14 months in the North Atlantic. Two winters of gales. That is a will to live on."

The boat won Cruising World's Domestic Boat of the Year at the U.S. Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Md., and later earned Sail magazine's Best Boats Award.

Johnstone told Trade Only in December that the boat had been spotted by several people floating around.

"The boat's tending to itself, even though the crew jumped off, through one of the worst winters on record in the North Atlantic," he said.

One composites expert said he couldn't think of any other structure that would have survived intact and afloat for 10 months.

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