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

Rolex Middle Sea Race: Hold The Fohn
Photo by Ingrid Abery, Click on image for photo gallery.

Rolex Middle Sea Race After scorching around the early part of the course, covering over half of the 608 nautical-mile course in just 24 hours, Lloyd Thornburg's American MOD70 Phaedo3 and Giovanni Soldini's Italian MOD70 Maserati have come to a relative grinding halt. After sustaining speeds of over 20 knots en route from Stromboli, the pair 'hit the wall' just before San Vito Lo Capo on the North West tip of Sicily.

This 'pit-stop' was to Maserati's initial gain. Having been around ten miles behind Phaedo3 for much of the leg, the Italian team kept a more northerly route, were able to hold better pressure longer and actually overhauled their rivals. The joy was short lived as Phaedo3's coast-hugging tactics appear to have enable them to slip into new stronger breeze as they round the corner and start to head south.

This lack of wind north of Sicily can be attributed to a low pressure system in the Atlantic, which is literally sucking warm air out of the Mediterranean and up over the Alps into parts of northern Europe. Currently in Zermatt, the temperature is higher than usual for the time of year. The southerly wind experienced in the alpine resort confirms this trend in the southern Mediterranean. The wind effect is known locally in Switzerland as a "Föhn", a generic term for "hairdryer".

The "hairdryer" is having a considerable effect on the battle for both line honours and the overall win in the monohull fleet.

George David's American Maxi Rambler 88 is in an epic battle to maintain their position at the front of the monohull fleet. In an effort to skirt the windless hole that trapped the multihulls and which is forecast to expand eastward, Rambler 88 initially dived south after rounding Stromboli and is now heading offshore away from Filicudi. The pursuing pack of yachts continue to snap at her heels. The Danish Volvo 70 Trifork, with Bouwe Bekking at the helm, is a mere three miles astern. Clarke Murphy's Carbon Ocean 82 Aegir is five miles behind. Perhaps even worse, at least in the minds of the Rambler crew, Marton Jozsa's Hungarian RP60 Wild Joe, Maximilian Klink's Swiss Botin 65 Caro, Vincenzo Onorato's Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino and Quentin Stewart's Infiniti 46 Maverick are all within ten miles of the pre-race Line Honours favourite.

Volvo Ocean Race Start Dates
The Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18 will begin on Sunday, October 22 - in almost exactly one year's time - when the starting gun is fired in Alicante and the teams set out to complete a total of 45,000 nautical miles of offshore racing, over a course that takes in 11 landmark cities in five continents over eight months.

Organisers revealed the start dates for the first three legs of sailing's longest and toughest adventure on Friday, rounding off a series of 10 major announcements on the future of the Race in the past two weeks.

The first official action of the 2017-18 edition will be the Alicante In-Port Race on Saturday, October 14 before the Volvo Ocean Race itself begins eight days later with Leg 1 - a 700-nautical mile sprint to Lisbon, Portugal. It will be the fourth-consecutive time that the event has started from its Home Port of Alicante.

After arriving in Lisbon, the boats will take part in the In-Port Race on Saturday, 28 October before the start of Leg 2 on Sunday, November 5.

That will see them battle it out over 7,000 nautical miles of the Atlantic Ocean to Cape Town, South Africa. The racing will take over three weeks to complete, and will mark the 11th occasion in 13 editions that the Volvo Ocean Race has visited the city.

The Cape Town In-Port Race will take place on Friday, December 8 and Leg 3 will begin two days later on Sunday, December 10.

The decision to tweak the format of race weekends at many of the stopovers by moving the In-Port Race from the Saturday to the Friday gives teams an extra 24 hours to prepare for the rigours of ocean racing to come.

The full route, including almost three times the amount of Southern Ocean sailing as in recent editions, was announced earlier this year. The Race will announce the dates for the rest of the legs in the coming weeks. -- Jonno Turner

Grenada Sailing Week
Grenada Sailing Week A truly friendly, competitive regatta - Island Water World Grenada Sailing Week 30 Jan - 4 Feb 2017

With five yachts already registered in the CSA Racing Spinnaker Class and two newly built Grenada boats launching in time to participate, this promises to be an exciting regatta.

Bernie Evan-Wong, avid Antiguan racer on his RP37 Taz, (known as "The Carbon Beast"), says: "For the past several seasons we have campaigned the Caribbean Racing circuit starting with Grenada in the South and going up to the USVI in the North, participating in around 10 Regattas each season, and I can safely say that Grenada Sail Week is one of my favourite regattas, warm, friendly and competitive."

Race Day Sponsor Sea Hawk Premium Yacht Finishes, a loyal supporter from the start, promotes this event at international boat shows and provides valuable bottom paint prizes for positions 1, 2 and 3 in all classes. Host Marina and Race Day Sponsor Secret Harbour in sheltered Mt Hartman Bay, with its premier pool house party venue, has long been a secret and chose to support Grenada Sailing Week to promote their fully operational marina to international and local sailors.

Regional Air Partner LIAT The Caribbean Airline will be offering great discounts to captains and crew flying in for the event - check the Grenada Sailing Week website for details regarding dates and eligibility.

Check our website: and sign up for our newsletter, email us at , find us on Facebook at GrenadaSailingWeek, or Twitter @grenadasailweek

Continuing The Swiss Tradition In The Vendee Globe
This is the story of a small country, which has no sea borders, but is clearly a nation not to be overlooked in offshore racing circles and in the Vendee Globe in particular. Save for 1989-1990 and 1996-1997, there has always been at least one Swiss (or Franco-Swiss) sailor at the start of the solo round the world race without stopovers. This year, Alan Roura takes up the baton, following on from Bernard Gallay, Bernard Stamm and Dominique Wavre who have gone before.

On 6 November, Alan Roura, 23, will honour a series of illustrious predecessors by taking the start of the eighth Vendee Globe. In seven editions of the non-stop solo round the world race, on five occasions, one or more Swiss sailors have set out from Les Sables d'Olonne (one in 1992-1993, three in 2000-2001, one in 2004-2005 and two in 2008-2009 and 2012-2013). Bernard Gallay, Dominique Wavre and Bernard Stamm together have clocked up a total of nine attempts at the Vendee Globe.

At 23 years of age, Roura will become the youngest competitor ever to set sail on 6 November. He will be sailing on Bernard Stamm's former Superbigou.

Swiss competitors - the facts and figures

- 3 sailors have taken part - Bernard Gallay (twice), Dominique Wavre (4 times) and Bernard Stamm (3 times)

- 2 have successfully completed the race: Dominique Wavre (5th in 2000-2001, 4th in 2004-2005, 7th in 2012-2013) and Bernard Gallay (8th in 2000-2001)

- 2 made it back, but were disqualified: Bernard Gallay (in 1992-1993) and Bernard Stamm (in 2012-2013)

- Best time: Dominique Wavre with a time of 90 days, 3 hours and 14 minutes (in 2012-2013)

18ft Skiffs: Alf Beashel Memorial Trophy
Skiffs Strong Southerly winds, gusting to more than 30-knots, made 18ft Skiff officials think long and hard before making a decision on whether to conduct the Alf Beashel Memorial Trophy race on Sydney Harbour today.

Following the abandonment of last Sunday's race, officials were keen for a start, and strict instructions were issued to avoid the skiffs being forced to wait around too long on the harbour prior to the race start.

The logistical problem to set three windward marks (for the scheduled 3-Buoys race) saw race officials decide on a format change.

Only one windward mark was set, and handicaps, to determine the trophy winner, would be adjusted at the club after the race.

A few of the newer teams decided that discretion was required and decided not to sail, while a couple of other teams were forced out with some gear problems during rigging.

John Winning and his team were the first to leave the rigging area but a gear breakage forced them back before the scheduled start.

Finally, with only two boats making it to the start line, the race got under way when Nick Daly's Peroni crossed the line in Athol Bay, west of Bradleys Head.

The only other boat to make the start within the time limit was Pedro Vozone's Haier Appliances, which started a few minutes behind Peroni.

When the wind eased back a few knots, Peroni's team of Nick Daly, John Walton and Tom Clout had little trouble handling the conditions and gave spectators a close look at speed sailing under their big white kite.

Although Haier was unable to make up the time lost at the start, Pedro Vozone, Tim Westwood and Lorenzo Cerretelli managed to complete the course, which had been shortened by the race committee.

Everyone is hoping for a break from the terrible conditions of the past two weeks when the 19-boat fleet lines up for Race 1 of the NSW Championship next Sunday

The teams for the new season are located on the Australian 18 Footers League website at:

Volvo China Coast Regatta
Photos by RHKYC / Guy Nowell. Click on image for photo gallery.

China Coast Regatta With limited breeze in the vicinity of Middle Island, the AP was raised on shore at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club's Middle Island Clubhouse at 0740hrs. Shortly after, Race Officer Inge Strompf-Jepsen and the race management team went in search of wind. After a few hours of building breeze, the committee was relieved when the wind settled at 6+ knots and the AP was removed on shore at 1131hrs.

With the given wind conditions and direction, it was decided that any island course would turn into a reaching race. Therefore race management decided it would be best to hold a windward/leeward race for all classes. The committee boat anchored south-east of Lamma Island, and all divisions were sent on Course Q2 with an axis of 075°.

IRC Racer 0 was the first start at 1256hrs in 5 to 6kts of breeze. IRC Racer 0, 1 and IRC Premier Cruising were sent on a three-lap windward/leeward course with 1.5nm legs towards the Beaufort Gap. The first boat to finish in IRC Racer 0 was Seng Huang Lee's 100ft super maxi finished at 14hr 10min 10sec, but Sam Chan's TP52 FreeFire took the win with a corrected time of 2h06m17s.

IRC Racer 1 started at 1302hrs with the Ker 40 Signal 8 (Hannings/Jacobs/Kendall/McWilliam/Pender) first to round the leeward mark quickly followed by Ker Custom 42 Black Baza (Steve Manning/Anthony Root) then GTS 43 Mandrake III (Nick Burns/Fred Kinmonth). After three laps, Mandrake III prevailed on handicap by 1 minute and 42 seconds.

IRC Premier Cruising started at 1308hrs with Beneteau 50 Lighthorse Shawn Kang rounding the leeward mark a good 4 minutes before Warwick Custom Moonblue 2 Peter Churchouse. Keeping up their lead Lighthorse took line honours and their division win.

IRC Racer 2, 3 and HKPN divisions were sent on a shorter 7.5nm course with 1.25nm legs. The IRC Racer 2 and 3 planned start was at 1314hrs but at about a minute to the gun, a fishing boat more concerned with bringing in their nets drove directly through fleet. The AP was raised while the boats scattered and once the fishing boat was clear, the sequence was restarted and the race set off at 1322hrs. At one point there was quite a pile up at the first rounding of the leeward mark but once that was all cleared up Seawolf William Liu IRC Racer 2 and Dexter II Lowell Chan IRC Racer 3 took the wins in their respective divisions.

Tomorrow will be the final day of racing with the warning signal at 1025hrs with the race committee hoping to get in a windward leeward followed by an islands race before heading to Kellett Island for the Volvo China Coast Regatta Gala Prize Giving Dinner.

Provisional results to date are available online at

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

Seahorse Magazine

Where champions are made
Exactly 681 young, fast and hungry Laser sailors descended upon Kiel's Schilksee Harbour for their Youth Worlds - and once again Kiel's regatta managers just took it all in their stride

They're lining up to take down the unloved Medal Race, good things happen in Annapolis, hugging the Maxi family close, bouncing back in Toulon. Rodney Pattisson, Jack Griffin, Terry Hutchinson, Rob Weiland

World news
Go south if you want to, learning to the very last, putting the sofa behind you, Rio sacrifices and shaking up the US of A. Bora Gulari, Ivor Wilkins, Blue Robinson, Patrice Carpentier, Dobbs Davis, Jacques Caraes, Mat Belcher

IRC column - Simple is good
And weighing a Maxi is not hard. James Dadd

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Monaco To Host Inaugural M32 Winter Series In Europe
Milan, Italy: As part of its progressive sports policy, the Yacht Club de Monaco organises the Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series of competitions that take place every year once a month from October to March. This programme of regattas and bespoke training sessions is for the one-design elite who set up their winter headquarters in the Principality. It's the philosophy behind the Yacht Club de Monaco's decision to host the first European Winter Series dedicated to the M32 class.

These high performance catamarans will take centre stage outside Monaco's harbour with their exciting short course race format close to the shore. The series comprises four events starting early December through to the beginning of March.

For Aston Harald Sports, this is a key announcement in the development of the class in Europe. "We have seen the success of the previous winter series in Bermuda and Miami, and this year we're heading back to Miami again. Today's announcement of the M32 Monaco Winter Series will open up racing during the winter for European teams and is also an important step in the strategy to have many more M32 Series events throughout Europe. We are very excited that the Yacht Club Monaco is working with us to make this possible," says Robert Magnusson, CEO of Aston Harald Sports.

M32 Monaco Winter Series Dates
Event 1: 9-11 December 2016
Event 2: 13-15 January 2017
Event 3: 2-5 February 2017
Event 4: 3-5 March 2017

For more information on the M32 Monaco Winter Series please contact Riccardo Simoneschi:

Around Australia Yacht Race Full Steam Ahead!
The 2nd ever Around Australia Yacht Race is set to depart Sydney Harbour on August 5th 2017. With three early entries all dreaming of competing and completing this amazing race, the event is 'Full Steam Ahead'.

A lot of people are worried that this race will not go ahead. Unfortunately this is the legacy that has been left by the last two failed attempts to make this race happen. Those events were organised by the Australia Yacht Club in Western Australia and are a far different event to what we are planning. A lot of people still think that the old organisers are behind this event, however we need to make it 100% clear that this event is being run by Ocean Crusaders and not the past organisers.

Our intention when setting this race up was to organise an event that will allow those that want to achieve this dream, to do just that, achieve a dream that so few will ever achieve.

If you are expecting this race to be of the same status as the Sydney to Hobart or Fastnet races, then you are on the wrong wavelength. This event needs to build over several editions. Even the first Sydney to Hobart was a small affair that very few people even knew about. I don't expect a huge fleet, in fact I will be happy if we have 5 yachts, but early indications are looking good for a fleet bigger than that. -- Ian Thomson

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