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

Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 Route Refreshed
Featuring almost three times as much Southern Ocean sailing as the previous edition, the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 will be contested over the longest distance in race history at around 45,000 nautical miles (nm), crossing four oceans and taking in 11 major cities on five continents.

The 43-year-old race around the world will start from Alicante in late 2017 with a 700nm sprint to Lisbon, Portugal that will provide the first test of the form guide.

From the Portuguese capital, the fleet will plunge south towards Cape Town, South Africa, before an epic few weeks racing through the Southern Ocean and then back north across the equator to Hong Kong SAR, China in what will be one of the longest legs in Race history. After a non-scoring transition to Guangzhou, China where an in-port race and full set of stopover activities will be held, the ocean racing will resume from Hong Kong to Auckland, New Zealand. The fleet will then head back through the Southern Ocean, around the most famous landmark of them all, Cape Horn, and up through the Atlantic Ocean to the southern Brazilian city of Itajaí

From there, as in the last edition, the boats will head back in to the northern hemisphere to the Eastern Seaboard of the USA, Newport, Rhode Island, before a blast across the North Atlantic on the blue riband transatlantic leg, which will see them make a first return to British shores in 12 years.

The fleet will arrive in Cardiff, capital city of Wales, in May 2018, before beating its way around the top of the British Isles on a short but potentially brutal leg to the penultimate stopover in Gothenburg, Sweden. The 2017-18 race will end with a grand finale into The Hague, Netherlands.

The total distance of the racetrack is longer than in any of the 12 previous editions of an event which was born as The Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973.

But while the teams will sail more nautical miles than ever before, the race itself is scheduled to be one month shorter than in most of the last 12 editions.

Three Extra Places For The 2016 Vendee Globe
At a meeting held today (Wednesday 29th June) in Les Sables d'Olonne with the organisers and skippers competing in the eighth Vendee Globe, Yves Auvinet, President of the SAEM Vendee made an unexpected announcement. Three extra places will be made available on top of the 27 initially planned in the Notice of Race. If all of the sailors complete their sailing and administrative obligations on time, no fewer than 30 skippers will be able to line up at the start of the non-stop solo round the world race on 6th November. This is good news for several reasons, including the internationalisation of the Vendee Globe, as ten nations may be represented, which would be a record in the history of the event.

As for the logistical problem limiting the number of places on the pontoon in Port Olona, Yves Auvinet confirmed that a solution has been found. "We have consulted with the Race Directors to ensure that this can be done within the harbour. And that is certainly the case. The Notice of Race simply needs to be modified to take this into account with the addition of another amendment (amendment 2)."

The 30 skippers officially registered at present:
Jeremie Beyou (France), Tanguy de Lamotte (France), Vincent Riou (France), Morgan Lagraviere (France), Armel Le Cleac'h (France), Paul Meilhat (France), Sebastien Destremau (France), Eric Bellion (France), Jean-Pierre Dick (France), Fabrice Amedeo (France), Sebastien Josse (France), Yann Elies (France), Thomas Ruyant (France), Didac Costa (Spain), Kito de Pavant (France), Jean Le Cam (France), Bertrand de Broc (France), Louis Burton (France), Nandor Fa (Hungary), Rich Wilson (USA), Alex Thomson (GB), Arnaud Boissieres (France), Alan Roura (Switzerland), Stephane Le Diraison (France), Pieter Heerema (Netherlands), Romain Attanasio (France), Kojiro Shiraishi (Japan), Conrad Colman (New Zealand), Enda O'Coineen (Ireland) and Jean-Francois Pellet (France).

Dubarry Crosshaven - Preferred By Professionals
Dubarry Crosshaven If you had to invent the most punishing ordeal for offshore sailing footwear - an extreme boot camp perhaps? - then it would be a professional, fully-crewed round the world race: thousands of ocean-bashing, boat-trashing miles around the planet. If there's even the slightest imperfection in boat, man or gear, this race will find it, break it, then tell everyone about it.

For most of us, it's the ultimate contest of man and machine against nature. For Dubarry, it's R&D. After supplying its ever-green Shamrock boot to the professional crew of Ireland's Green Dragon entry in a 2008-09 round the world race, Dubarry's most fanatical designers listened, developed, tested, listened some more, tweaked, analysed and tested again. The result was the Crosshaven boot.

When Green Dragon arrived in Galway at the end of leg 7 for the best party the race has ever seen, elbowing their way through the "craic addicts" was Dubarry's research team, wanting yet more feedback. Their finishing touches sealed the Crosshaven's reputation as the offshore professional's boot of choice. Where's the proof of that? Professional teams chose Crosshaven in the 2011-12 and 2014-15 round the world races.

Dubarry Crosshaven - Born at sea

Richomme First In Figaro Leg 2
Yoann Richomme (Skipper Macif 2014) has won the second stage of the 47th Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro between Cowes and Paimpol / Lezardrieux. This is the first win for the 33 year old from Lorient.

Crossing the Leg 2 finish line in Paimpol today, Chatham skipper Sam Matson was the first Brit home in 12th, while Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro first timer Will Harris aboard Artemis 77 finished 16th to take the coveted Rookie division lead.

Racing his seventh Solitaire, Yoann Richomme sailing Skipper Macif 2014 claimed his first leg win in a time of two days, 20 hours and 29 seconds. After a tight battle at the top, the podium was defined at the Suzuki buoy off the coast of Portsall, France. Richomme was the first at the sponsored mark for a second time in the race, leaving the fleet in his wake as he blasted up the north-western coast of France towards Paimpol.

Nicolas Lunven racing the striking red Figaro Generali finished Leg 2 in second, just 20 minutes and 40 seconds behind Richomme, with Charlie Dalin aboard his neon and blue Figaro Skipper Macif 2015, crossing the finish line in third - four minutes and 20 seconds after Lunven.

Departing from Cowes on Sunday, Matson and Harris were both looking forward to the fast conditions forecast for the second stage, Matson particularly relishing in the stronger weather usually akin to sailing offshore. Finishing 25th after Leg 1 following damage to his headsail, the 25 year old from Exmouth was determined to make his come back on Leg 2.

The stopover in Paimpol looks set to be a quick turnaround, with a parade of sail tomorrow to delivery the boats into the harbour followed by a series of briefings. The sailors will spend just two days in Brittany, before setting off on Leg 3 to La Rochelle on Saturday.

* Robin Elsey sustains damage to Figaro Artemis 43 after collision with a rock

Arriving in Paimpol after Leg 2 of the Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro today, the Artemis Offshore Academy shore team got straight to work on Robin Elsey's Figaro Artemis 43 following a collision between the boat and a rock in the Chanel du Four - a notoriously tidal passage on the north western coast of France.

Checking his position and his charts, Elsey set his alarm for a micro-sleep. Five minutes later he was awoken as his Figaro hit a large rock bow on. Luckily the skipper was unharmed. Damaging the bow and keel bulb upon impact and then the starboard rudder as the skipper unpinned his Figaro from the rock, Elsey assessed the damage and reported the incident to the Race Director.

With no serious structural damage to his Figaro, Elsey continued the race to finish 26th.

Work is now ongoing in Brittany to prepare Artemis 43 for Leg 3 of the race starting Saturday.

Underdogs And Top Dogs
Photo by Ingrid Abery, Click on image for photo gallery.

TP52 In a shifting, challenging light-breeze which kept tacticians and the race officer on their toes, home favourites Azzurra scored their first race win of the 52 SUPER SERIES season and now earn a share of the lead at the Audi Settimana delle Bocche, which they won last year.

The gentle breeze moved 50 degrees right over the duration of the race, requiring successive changes to the course axis on each leg of Race 3 of the series. It proved a good day for the underdogs too as XIO and Paprec, two of the oldest boats in the fleet, scrapped over the early lead. But Azzurra's tactician Vasco Vascotto managed to judge the changes best for Azzurra, got nicely to the right of leader XIO at the top mark on the second beat and the home team were able to convert a small lead into their first win of the season.

Standings after Day 2:

1. Quantum Racing, USA (Doug DeVos USA) (9,1,3) 13 points
2. Azzurra, ITA (Pablo/Alberto Roemmers ARG) (8,4,1) 13
3. Platoon, GER (Harm Muller-Spreer GER) (7,2,7) 16
4. Provezza, TUR (Ergin Imre TUR) (3,3,11) 17
5. Gladiator, GBR (Tony Langley GBR) (5,8,4) 17
6. Ran Racing, SWE (Niklas Zennstrom SWE) (2,6,10) 18
7. Bronenosec, RUS (Vladimir Liubomirov RUS) (1,11,8) 20
8. XIO Hurakan, ITA (Guiseppe Parodi ITA) (6 DNS/13,2) 21
9. Alegre, GBR (Andres Soriano USA) (10,5,9) 24
10. Sled, USA (Takashi Okura JPN) (11,7,6) 24
11. Sorcha GBR (Peter Harrison GBR) (4,9,12) 25
12. Paprec FRA (Jean-Luc Petithuguenin FRA) (12,10,5) 27

Japan, And A Third Swiss Team, Join The Gc32 Racing Tour
Two new teams will make their competitive debuts on the GC32 Racing Tour when stage two of the European one design foiling catamaran circuit fires up in Malcesine on Italy's Lake Garda over 7-10th July. For the GC32 Malcesine Cup, taking place as part of Foiling Week, ten GC32 teams will be competing.

Japan joins the GC32 Racing Tour in the form of Naofumi Kamei's Mamma Aiuto! Like Jason Carroll's Argo team, Mamma Aiuto! comes from the Melges 32 high performance keel boat, where it finished a very respectable third in the class' last World Championship. Now into its fifth season, the team last year also took part in the Melges 20 Worlds finishing fourth and, aboard a TP52, won Copa del Rey MAPFRE (this year's Copa del Rey MAPFRE will be the third stage of GC32 Racing Tour, over 3-6 August).

The team took delivery of its GC32 over the winter and has been training with her in Japan. Racing alongside the owner and Weiller are Javier de la Plaza from Spain and Jakob Gustafsson from Sweden, both former crew on ARMIN STROM Sailing Team.

De la Plaza previously competed in the Volvo Ocean Race on board Telefonica Black in 2008-9 and in the last race on Team Brunel. He is also a former World Champion in the 49er Olympic skiff and is a two time J/80 World Champion.

While Mamma Aiuto! is new to racing on two hulls, the same is not true for the Swiss on Realteam.

Founded in 2009 by Esteban Garcia, Realteam had its first experience catamaran racing in the D35 circuit on Lake Geneva in 2010. Since then the team has progressed rapidly, and in 2012 won the D35 annual championship and Switzerland's top regatta, the Bol d'Or Mirabaud. It has also competed on the Extreme Sailing Series finishing third overall in 2014.

A fundamental remit of Realteam is to nurture young Swiss sailing talent. However many of the original line-up remain with the team, including helmsman/trimmer Loic Forestier, trimmer/bowman Thierry Wasem and tactician Denis Girardet, all led by skipper Jerome Clerc and with Remi Aeschimann also on board for Malcesine.

Teams competing at the GC32 Malcesine Cup at Foiling Week

1. Norauto (FRA) - Franck Cammas
2. Team Tilt (SUI) - Sebastien Schneiter
3. Armin Strom (SUI) - Flavio Marazzi
4. Gunvor Sailing (SWE) - Gustav Petterson
5. Team Engie (FRA) - Sebastien Rogues
6. Argo (USA) - Jason Carroll
7. Malizia (MON) - Pierre Casiraghi
8. Orange Racing (NED) - Laurent Lenne
9. Mamma Aiuto! (JPN) - Naofumi Kamei
10. Realteam (SUI) - Jerome Clerc

Vic-Maui Race Preview
Victoria, BC, Canada: Next week, the biennial Vic-Maui Race will start on Thursday, July 7th and send the fleet of just forty boats on a 2,308nm journey across the Pacific to the beautiful island of Maui. Hosted by the Royal Vancouver YC and Lahaina YC, the fleet starts off Victoria Harbor in British Columbia, heads northwest out the treacherous Straits of Juan de Fuca, then turn left and head straight to the finish line just outside the reef line at Lahaina YC. The game, as always, is to play the edge of the enormous Pacific High to maintain as fast a VMG angle as possible for most of the race; as a result, most boats end up sailing not the direct "great circle route", but a course that looks like half an ellipsoid.

The time allowances for the fleet will be calculated from the ORC velocity prediction program, the Vic-Maui Weather Matrix, and a course length of 2,308 nautical miles. This will result in a single time allowance for each boat for use in the 2016 Vic-Maui Race.

Reed Bernhard's J/109 MOUNTAIN from Sloop Tavern YC in Seattle, WA will race the Double-handed Class. The skipper and navigator have ten TransPac races between them, and they look forward to sailing from the great city of Victoria.

In the Swiftsure Lightship Classic Race, Bernhard's MOUNTAIN took first in ORC Division I in the Swiftsure Lightship Classic Race earlier in the year.

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The Last Word
Scientists willing to risk their reputations on higher dimensions soon found themselves ridiculed by the scientific community. Higher-dimensional space became the last refuge for mystics, cranks, and charlatans. -- Michio Kaku

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