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 Air Storms Home To Win On Sensational Final Day
Morgan Larson stormed home to an extraordinary win in the opening Act of the 2016 Extreme Sailing Series in Muscat on Oman Air, alongside the team, which includes Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Ed Smyth and Omani national Nasser Al Mashari. Together the team won over 50% of the races sailed, more than any other team in Series history, as the Extreme Sailing Series officially completes the biggest transition of the last ten years. The flying GC32s have well and truly arrived.

Muscat saved the best for last, cranking up the breeze for the final two races that literally saw the eight GC32s flying around the track, and at times teetering on the edge.

With seven Acts left on the global tour, and plenty of skills for the fleet to perfect as the year goes on, the 2016 Series looks set to go from strength to strength. Next stop, China, 29 April-2 May.

Extreme Sailing Series Act 1, Muscat standings after Day 4, 19 races

1. Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson, Pete Greenhalgh, James Wierzbowski, Ed Smyth, Nasser Al Mashari, 217 points
2. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans Peter Steinacher, Stewart Dodson, Adam Piggott, Brad Farrand, 184
3. Land Rover BAR Academy (GBR) Bleddyn Mon, Leigh McMillan, Ed Powys, Adam Kay, Neil Hunter, 175
4. Alinghi (SUI) Ernesto Bertarelli, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Nicolas Charbonnier, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey, 172
5. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Kostner, Mads Emil Stephensen, Pierluigi De Felice, Renato Conde, 166
6. CHINA One (CHN) Taylor Canfield, Chris Steele, Shane Diviney, Hayden Goodrick, Luke Payne, 153
7. Team Turx (TUR) Edhem Dirvana, Stevie Morrison, Cem Gozen, Alister Richardson, Anil Berk Baki, 140
8. Sail Portugal (POR) Diogo Cayolla, Bernardo Freitas, Javier de la Plaza, Luis Brito, Winston Macfarlane, 138

Velsheda Win Saint Barths Round The Island Match Up
Velsheda. Photo by Cory Silken, Click on image to enlarge.

J Class After a spirited, no holds barred match race which prevailed almost of the anti clockwise passage around the island of Saint Barths, during which there was never more than two or three boat lengths between the most established J Class rivals, it is the Velsheda crew which might impose their bragging rights over close rivals Ranger this evening. But that is only if they have enough remaining energy after the physically demanding head to head.

It was only in the closing miles of this classic Saint Barths Bucket island circumnavigation challenge, that the Velsheda crew could begin to be more sure of winning. "You have to pay tribute to our owner-helmsman Ronald today." Grinned tactician Tom Dodson, "This really is down to him. His helming, keeping the boat fast when we needed to be, staying absolutely focused and not looking back at Ranger when they were close, made the difference in the end."

Topaz, the debuting, brand new J Class held the early lead out towards the first mark after an initial 3 miles upwind leg. They stayed in touch and had chances to profit subsequently when the duelling ahead was particularly intense - there were several luffing matches between the dark blue hulled Velsheda and the all white Ranger.

Indeed it was after one initial skirmish when both went head to wind, or close enough to it, that the Velsheda team got their bow down quicker, build speed and managed to just escape the tentacles of Ranger, winners of the Kings Hundred Guinea Cup.

The 25 miles course offered great, classic Saint Barths 'brochure' conditions, 14-16kts of SE'ly tradewinds breeze, a big swell on the windward side of the island. Under stresses of the solid wind pressure and rolling waves

After two hours and 42 minutes of racing Velsheda finished 1 minute and 21 seconds ahead of Ranger on corrected time, Topaz two minutes and 13 seconds behind second place.

Seahorse April 2016
What's in the Latest Edition Of Seahorse Magazine

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Unique is just a word
(Brilliant) Russian designer-buildersailor Viktor Yazykov and the editor go back a long way together. But he still remains in thrall!

Of devils and details - Part 2
Raceboat systems engineer Jon Williams talks live transmission

A lot is expected of the M32 cats this year... and a lot of it is already being delivered. Andy Rice

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North Sails IOR Cup
The competing boats were mostly vintage 1980s, but they showed they and their crews are still sprightly when 25 of Hobart's older racing yachts took to the Derwent yesterday for the Bellerive Yacht Club's second annual North Sails IOR Cup.

The IOR Cup was in many ways a reflection on the duels of the 1980s and 1990s between the world's major yacht designers for top honours around the world, the Sydney Hobart, Admiral's Cup and the Half Ton and One Ton Cups.

Represented in the fleet included designs by Bruce Farr, Ed Dubois and Tasmania's own designer Walter Knoop, many of them built to Half Ton and One Ton rules.

Yesterday Bruce Farr designs came out on top in two of the three handicap divisions as the fleet sailed three races in a 15 knot SSW breeze on a chilly autumn day in Hobart (max 15 degrees) with some sharp gusts reaching the high 20 knots.

Two Farr 1104, one of the New Zealand designer's earliest internationally successful designs, Scott Broadby's Hot Prospect and Justin Barr's Rumbeat, battled out Division One along with the Dubois designed Black Magic, skippered by BYC Commodore Graham Mansfield.

Council Appprove America's Cup Series Event Changes
Portsmouth City Council has approved the plans for this year's America's Cup Series event. The event has radically cut back the area of the Southsea seafront it fences and charges for, following complaints after last year's event. Gone also are the Pop concerts.

This year Southsea Common will be a free area, with no restrictions on access or on taking picnics. The organisers, Team Origin, are concentrating the ticketed area on the more direct access viewing areas, including Castle Field and Castle Hill, previously free, plus Southsea Skatepark and the Bandstand within the paid for area.

The three-day event is taking place between July 22 and 24. As always with sailing events, weather conditions are key and everyone is hoping for betterconditions than last year, when strong winds and heavy rain curtailed the racing. -- Gerald New in

Queensland Government Convenes For America's Cup Bid
Representatives of Queensland, Australia's local and state government, government agencies and stakeholders, including Mayor Tom Tate, will convene at the Gold Coast Waterways Authority to discuss logistics and examine the options and opportunities involved in mounting a successful bid for the Gold Coast to host the Grand Finale of the America's Cup preliminary circuit in February 2017 ahead of the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda.

Tony Longhurst, Rodney Longhurst and Steve Ackerie are driving the official bid for the Gold Coast to host the high profile event.

Australian sailor Iain Murray will be in attendance. Murray is a world champion in 18ft skiffs, Olympian and veteran of two America's Cup challenges, and now holds the position of America's Cup regatta director.

Dubarry Ultima - Classic Craftsmanship
Dubarry Ultima It's been said of Ireland that it's a lovely country, just needs a roof. True, we get more than our fair share of rain from the storms that barrel in from the North Atlantic, but it's not so bad - it's not for nothing that we're known as the Emerald Isle.

In this part of the world we're also well used to making our living on the sea, in the sturdy Galway Hookers built by hand with traditional tools by local boatbuilders. These bluff-bowed gaff cutters have plied their treacherous trade on the often vengeful waters of the Bay for over 200 years. If ever there was a place where folk would appreciate a quality traditional sea boot - and had the craftsmanship to make one - it's here.

So it's here, in the town of Ballinasloe, a stone's throw from the Shannon and just inland of Galway Bay, that Dubarry started making boots in 1937. We've honed our traditional boot-making virtuosity, found sources of the finest quick-drying, long-lasting leathers, and perfected the technology behind a warm, waterproof classic boot with award-winning grip. What else could we call the world's best traditional sea boot, other than Ultima?

Dubarry Ultima - Where will you go in yours?

Rolex China Sea Race
Organised by Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, the 2016 edition of the Rolex China Sea Race will start on Wednesday 23 March.

The 2016 edition of Asia's most exciting race marks another chapter as the number of international entries continues to rise and swells the entries to 34. The Chinese entries continue to grow as the Swan 80 UBOX shows up complete with some Dongfeng crew fresh from the Volvo round the world race.

Despite significant commercial shipping, the South China Sea is a remote part of the world that requires crews to be prepared for self-rescue in the event that something goes wrong. As a blue water race, it has a bit of everything from a spectacular start in the iconic Hong Kong harbor, through the lumpy challenging conditions on the first night to the deep blue water as you near the northern Philippines.

On paper this event might look like a drag race with a predominant easterly breeze and Trade winds of 70 to 90 degrees but the reality is often different with the infamous Luzon hole causing the fleet to compress and effectively restart. The net result is that there are many boats that have the chance of lifting the trophy under IRC.

Race action will be tracked by Yellowbrick Tracking and will be shown live at

10 symmetric North spinnakers, 3 mainsails and 5 vertical battened Jibs all in brand new condition along with 8 carbon assymetric spinnaker poles and 24 RTYC branded Spinlock Wing PFDs in new condition all contained in a Ifor Williams trailer branded with "Royal Thames Yacht Club and Royal Yacht Squadron J/80 Fleet support trailer"

If offered any of these unusual items (they are no use of an "in class" J/80) there is a reward offered for successful recovery of any of the items you are asked to contact the RTYC Chief sailing officer Richard Ambler

Fast 40+ To Debut At The Rorc Easter Challenge
For three days over the bank holiday weekend, the yachting world's eyes will be glued to the Solent as the Fast 40+ class makes its debut en masse at the Royal Ocean Racing Club's domestic season opener, the RORC Easter Challenge.

Between eight and 10 Fast 40+s will be competing and with the fleet expected to grow to 14 this summer, pundits are observing that this class represents the most competitive homegrown handicap inshore keelboat racing the UK has seen since the heyday of the Admiral's Cup.

To those unfamiliar with the Fast 40+, effectively it does what it says on the tin: Boats have an IRC TCC of 1.210-1.270 (although a lower limit of 1.191 is permitted for 2016). To put this into context, original Ker 40s such as Hooligan and Baraka GP represent the slowest, while Peter Morton's brand new Carkeek 40 Mk3, Girls on Film, is at the upper limit, along with American Bill Coates' Ker 43, Otra Vez, and Sir Keith Mills' Ker 40+, Invictus.

Class rules have been broadened for this season to allow more boats in.

"I think it is a natural fit - we aren't trying to force anything, it has just evolved," explains Robert Greenhalgh, who is Fast40+ Class President. "It has taken a couple of years, but to get - all being well - 10 boats at the Easter Challenge, plus some new ones rolling in this season, is fantastic. All the owners have remained positive and are keen for it."

And the boats are fast. Greenhalgh, a former 18ft skiff and International 14 World Champion, and a Volvo Ocean Race winner, competes on Sir Keith Mills' Invictus. "The boat regularly hits 20 knots. We saw 23 last year when it was windy."

Racing at the RORC Easter Challenges takes place over 25-27th March with must-attend post-race debriefs occurring daily at the RORC Cowes clubhouse, chocolate egg prizes on offer as well as high level coaching on the water and a socially acceptable finish time on Easter Sunday.

Boaty McBoatface
The official name of a new multi-million pound research vessel could be the RRS Boaty McBoatface after the internet was asked for its ideas.

When the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) opened up suggestions to name their new ship, little could they have predicted what the frontrunner would be.

Steaming ahead of its rivals, RRS Boaty McBoatface is outstripping the likes of Endeavour, Henry Worsley, David Attenborough, Falcon and many more offerings.

NERC was looking for a name to reflect the ship's prowess in the oceans, symbolising the pioneering work they will undertake.

When thinking of submissions, they advised: "We're looking for an inspirational name that exemplifies the work it will do.

"The ship could be named after a local historical figure, movement, or landmark - or a famous polar explorer or scientist.

"We would like the name to be inspirational and about environmental and polar science, to help us tell everyone about the amazing work the ship does."

So naturally Boaty McBoatface, suggested by communications manager James Hand - who later tweeted an apology for his input - is the most popular choice.

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