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

Yachting Developments New Zealand Match Racing Championships
When an event includes defeated finalists like Ben Ainslie in its history and the past winners list reads like a who's who of match racing (Gavin Brady, Dean Barker, Phil Robertson, Adam Minoprio, Josh Junior, Rod Davis, Brad Butterworth and Chris Dickson have all had their hands on the New Zealand Match Racing Championship Trophy) you know you are in for some competitive and combative top drawer match racing.

Add to that a PRO of the quality of Harold Bennett and a line-up of 8 umpires that included Russell Green (ETNZ and former Oracle Rules Adviser) and you have a recipe for a thoroughly entertaining and professional series of races.

19 Teams - across two flights - came to the line for the first race of the 2016 New Zealand Match Race Championships which like the WMRT started with fleet racing to seed the sailors for the match race element which was to follow.

Racing was held on the waters off the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) and the weather threw everything at the sailors from a drifter with Harold Bennett's finger poised over the hooter with the "N" flag ready to hoist only to be saved by the wind returning, to gusts approaching 30 knots but the sailors' weapons, the locally built Elliot 7s proved ideal for the job.

The final was between defending champion Chris Steels and Graeme Sutherland.

From the start it appeared that Steele's boat handling was superior, especially in the brisk conditions, but this was balanced out by a straight line speed advantage from Sutherland and although the final score line was 3-0 in Steele's favour this was far from a walkover, quite the opposite. -- Alistair Skinner


Antigua Bermuda Race Gathers Pace
Over 40 yachts have expressed their interest in the Antigua Bermuda Race, organised by the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in association with Antigua Sailing Week. The inaugural race coincides with the finish of the 50th edition of Antigua Sailing Week and the 35th America's Cup event in Bermuda.

The Notice of Race for the Antigua Bermuda Race is now available

A substantial fleet is expected from all around the world, ranging from magnificent superyachts and classic designs, to high performance multihulls, carbon fibre ocean greyhounds and production cruiser/racers.

The magnificent Swan 90, Freya is already on the fast-growing list of yachts expected to compete in the race starting from Antigua on Friday 12th May, 2017 is. Since her launch in 2013, Freya has been bluewater cruising and racing at high profile inshore regattas ever since.

2017 is a special year for Mathew Barker, the owner of The Blue Peter, which was launched in 1930. Like Antigua Sailing Week, the British yachtsman based in Cannes, South of France will be celebrating his 50th year. Designed by Alfred Mylne and built in Burnham-on-Crouch, the original owner extended her by 10 feet in 1938 and the wooden sloop has been exactly preserved by Barker to that configuration - right down to the deck gear.

The Antigua Bermuda Race is open to yachts and multihulls with a minimum length of 40ft (12m) holding a valid IRC and/or CSA Rating Certificate or Superyacht rating. Dual scoring will be provided and a provision of a Motor Sailing Handicap will be overlaid for Cruiser Racers.

The Antigua Bermuda Race starts on Friday 12th May 2017 and is supported by the Bermuda Tourism Authority and Goslings Rum. Competitors can be assured of a warm welcome in Bermuda and for more, including pre-registration of potential interest, please go to:

Can't BYOB (Bring Your Own Boat) - Race Yachts For Charter
St. Thomas International Regatta St. Thomas International Regatta - March 24-26, 2017

If you can't BYOB, no worries. Charter! Several companies offer a wide variety of great race yachts for hire for the 2017 St. Thomas International Regatta:

- OnDeck, based in Antigua, charters its Farr 65 Spirit of Juno by the individual crew slot. Plus, its two Beneteau 40.7's are available for bareboat or skippered race charter.

- Performance Yacht Racing in the UK offers its Grand Soleil 43 Quokka, the Beneteau 47.7 EH01, and J120 Sunset either whole boat or by the crew slot.

- Caribbean Yacht Racing is chartering the class-winning J122, El Ocaso, with an extensive North Sails inventory.

- Regatta Charters Pro, based in Ibiza, offers a TP52, Swan 65, Grand Soleil 43, Stimson 42 and much more for whole boat charter.

- Sailing Logic offers two Beneteau First 40s, Arthur and Joanna, available with a skipper or owner's rep aboard.

Race in CSA (Caribbean Sailing Association); IRC; Multihull; CSA Bareboat; Beach Cat or One Design classes with a minimum length of 20 feet. Register for the Round the Rocks Regatta too, a circumnavigation of the neighboring 19-square mile island of St. John. World-class racing, the chance to trade tacks with America's Cup, Volvo Ocean and Olympic crews on the water and nightly parties, day-time beach games and live music, food and drink ashore is what earns STIR its motto, 'We Love It Here' You will too.

Discount for Early Entry. Register now!
Call (340) 642-3204

Volvo Ocean 65s To Feature New Hydropower Units
Click on image to enlarge.

Hydropower The Volvo Ocean Race is installing a new hydro-generator to act as a back-up power source to the Volvo Penta engine on each of the Volvo Ocean 65 racing yachts - part of the one million euro per boat refit process currently underway in Lisbon, and an important milestone in the quest to become energy-neutral on the race course.

All eight boats - the seven from the last edition, plus the new boat being built at Persico Marine in Italy - will feature the unit, which can already provide enough power to run the essential onboard systems in the event of mechanical failure.

Depending on the results of continued pre-race testing, its use could be mandatory at times during the 2017-18 edition in order to provide results during real-world race conditions and begin to reduce the amount of fuel used by the boats for their electronic systems.

One boat has already been installed with the unit for testing, and the results have been significant, according to the Race's Director of Boats and Maintenance, Nick Bice.

"In the last few years, we've been working hard on alternative energy," he explained.

"The hydro-generator is effectively a propeller which you drop over the back of the boat, similar to a small outboard, which spins around with the water flowing, generating electricity to be fed back to the batteries on the boat.

"Our tests have shown no noticeable impact on speed performance in terms of increase of drag. The results have been positive enough to convince me there's no reason why in the future we can't be energy neutral on the race course."

Vendee Globe - Technofirst-Faceocean To Arrive This Weekend
Sebastien Destremau hopes that his boat will arrive this weekend in Les Sables d'Olonne.

So far, 28 out of the 29 boats have moored up at the Vendee Globe pontoon. Only Sebastien Destremau's TechnoFirst-faceOcean is missing. While his boat is not yet there, the skipper was present today in Les Sables d'Olonne. On Wednesday he held a press conference during which he talked about the delivery trip of his IMOCA 60, which left Toulon ten days ago. "I returned by land leaving my team in Cadiz to finish the delivery trip. There isn't any wind along the coast of Portugal and Spain at the moment. The lads set off from Lisbon today using the engine.

TechnoFirst-faceOcean should get here this weekend" explained Sebastien Destremau.

At the press conference, the skipper from Toulon also talked about his preparation, after all the setbacks he has experienced, including the recent dismasting during class rule checks with just two months to go to the start of the Vendee Globe. Thanks to the support of sea folk and in spite of the limited budget of 350,000 €, Destremau will be there at the start on 6th November with the aim of completing the race if possible in less than 100 days.

Rolex Middle Sea Race
As the start of the 37th edition of the Rolex Middle Sea Race approaches, the fleet that is building up for this annual challenge is looking as impressive as ever. The usual mix of production boats optimised for the race by their Corinthian crews are set to sail alongside top racing boats manned by professionals. Following a global rise in interest, the presence of high performance multihulls is growing too.

Twenty five countries will be represented at the start line on Saturday 22nd October, with neighbouring Italy, as in past years having the greatest presence. Strong growth has been registered by Russia, whilst third placed United Kingdom has seen a slight increase from the previous year. The Rolex Middle Sea Race will be welcoming back Denmark and Ukraine who have not made an appearance in the last five years whilst Sweden will be returning after an absence of two years. With boats from faraway countries like Australia and the United States also present the fleet has become truly global.

Looking through the crew list one can see a number of well-known sailors with an impressive CV to their names including Adrian Stead, Vincenzo Onorato, Flavio Favini, Branko Brcin, Ian Moore, Giovanni Soldini, Pierre Casiraghi and Mikey Muller. RORC Racing Manager Nick Elliot will be taking part in his first big offshore race on Gemervescence and old faithful Beppe Bisotto is back with Atame for the 11th consecutive year.

Among top monohulls George David's Rambler 88 will be back after having won monohull line honours in 2015. The current course record unbeaten since 2007 was set by George David himself with a previous Rambler. George David will be returning and prepared to better the course record he still holds.

Also returning are Cippa Lippa and Mascalzone Latino, the two Cookson 50 boats who are no strangers to this race, with Vincenzo Onorato's Mascalzone Latino narrowly missing out to B2 for the coveted IRC win in 2015. A good challenge is also expected from the two TP52s Audax Energia and Team Van Uden Performance from Spain and the United Kingdom. From the Open 70 class, Green Dragon and Turkish Airlines Racing Team Black Betty are back have been on the starting line before too. The rest of the monohull fleet includes some competitive boats such as the Xp-44 while the popular and successful J boats are out in full force out to produce some good results. Worthy of mention is Maltese boat Artie, a J122 yacht who brought the Rolex Middle Sea Race trophy home in the 2011 and 2014 editions – definitely a force not to be underestimated.

The Rolex Middle Sea Race will start on Saturday 22nd October at 11:00hrs in the Grand Harbour.

Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image
80 amazing pictures have been selected for the Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image 2016 : Sailing and photography enthusiasts from around the world are invited to vote for this year's Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image - click here to vote.

The competition will be tight again this year, with the highest participation rate ever ! No less than 149 professional photographers from 25 different countries entered. Their best 80 shots were preselected by a panel of three international and well recognized yacht racing photographers, and are now available to view and to be voted for, at the event website.

Three prizes will be awarded on November 29, at the Yacht Racing Forum in Malta:

- The main prize is the 'Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image', selected by the international jury:

- The 'Yacht Racing Forum Award', decided by the 700 delegates of World Sailing's Annual conference and the 300 delegates of the Yacht Racing Forum.

- The 'Public Award' is based on the number of votes on Internet.

Traditional Ketch Ilen's Restored Deck Completed
American shipwright Matt Dirr, one of the many international talents who has contributed his skills to the Ilen project, does some final tidying-up before the ceremony. Click on image to enlarge.

Ilen The restoration of the 57-ft traditional multi-cargo ketch Ilen, built in Baltimore in 1926, has taken a significant step forward through the formal closing of her deck with the ceremonial fastening home of the final plank at Liam Hegarty's boatyard at Oldcourt beside the River Ilen.

The ceremony, hosted on Saturday by the Ilen Project, Limerick, marked a significant milestone in a re-build project whose primary goal is to bring Ireland's sole surviving wooden sailing ship back to Limerick. It was Limerick man Conor O'Brien of Foynes Island who secured the order for the Ilen when he called by the Falkland Islands after rounding Cape Horn in 1925 in his world-girdling 40ft Baltimore-built Saoirse. The islanders decided that a larger version of Saoirse would provide an ideal inter-island communication, transport and ferry vessel for their rugged archipelago, and within two years Conor O'Brien had returned with the Ilen to fulfill their commission.

Saturday's very special occasion revealed the beauty of the vessel to all those who attended - the high quality materials, the exemplary craftsmanship, and most significantly the marine educational role the vessel can be expected to play when she takes up her operational life on the Shannon Estuary and beyond, from her new home port of Limerick.

Volvo China Coast Regatta
The Volvo China Coast Regatta Race Committee together with the Sailing Office are keeping a beady eye on the weather as we near the start of the Volvo China Coast Regatta. Tropical Cyclone Haima is forecasted to be closest to Hong Kong on Friday forcing race organisers to put together a backup racing plan in case a signal 3 or 8 is still in force during the first scheduled day of racing on Saturday - which at this rate is looking quite likely.

The original plan sees the IRC Racer Class competing in three windward/leewards on Saturday, one long islands course on the Sunday and finishing on the Monday with a windward/leeward followed by an islands course. All of the other classes will have a windward/leeward and an island course on Saturday, a long islands course on Sunday and a windward/leeward and island course on Monday.

A quality fleet of 36 boats across 6 divisions will compete in this year's Volvo China Coast Regatta. Returning this year under a new name and owner the 100ft super maxi Scallywag Seng Huang Lee is sure to be a site on the race course against the many boats which are less then half her size. Other boats to make the journey to Hong Kong are the TP52 Standard Insurance Centennial from the Philippines who will compete in IRC0 against Hong Kong's Sam Chan's TP52 FreeFire.

Volvo China Coast Regatta:
Volvo Hong Kong to Hainan Race:

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The Last Word
In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme. -- Aristotle

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