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

Mascalzone Latino Vincitore
Valletta, Malta: The Royal Malta Yacht Club announced that Vincenzo Onorato's Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino is the overall winner of the 37th Rolex Middle Sea Race. Whilst a number of yachts are still racing, none of them have the possibility of beating Mascalzone Latino's corrected time. The Mascalzone Latino team will be awarded the Rolex Middle Sea Race Trophy and Rolex timepiece on Saturday 29 October at the prize giving ceremony to held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valletta.

This race crew was a mix of Italians and British sailors who have raced all over the world under the Mascalzone Latino banner and with great success. Last year they came agonizingly close to adding the Rolex Middle Sea Race to the honour role. In the absence of owner, Vincenzo Onorato, the boat was skippered this year by Matteo Savelli. The afterguard included Adrian Stead, Lorenzo Bressani and Branko Brcin. Ian Moore was the navigator. The sail trimmers were Leonardo Chiaruigi, Pierluigi De Felice, Stefano Ciampalini and Andrea Ballico. Daniele Fiaschi and Davide Scarpa shared the bowman duties.

The 2016 Rolex Middle Sea Race will be marked in the ever growing race legend as a tactically demanding one, with huge pressure on the tacticians and navigators to keep the yachts moving in the face of changing conditions.

Vincenzo Onorato of Mascalzone Latino: "I am really very happy for this victory. We have quite the same crew for many many years. We won together six Worlds titles, I can't remember how many Europeans and many of the most important major regattas in the world. The Rolex Middle Sea Race is the pinnacle of offshore racing in the Med. We were looking to win for a long time and finally we have proudly succeeded".

Master Of The School Of Hard Knocks
Triumphant in the summer's warm up New York - Vendee Transatlantic Race and three times winner of La Solitaire du Figaro, the incredibly competitive solo one design classic stage offshore race which is sailed each summer in 32-foot one design Beneteau Figaro 2s, Jeremie Beyou on Maitre CoQ ranks as one of the favourites to win this eighth edition of the Vendee Globe.

His two previous attempts ended in early abandons. In 2008 his rigging failed on Delta Dore and he retired on the 17th day of racing when approaching the north of Brazil. On the ninth day of the last race he had to turn Maitre CoQ round due to keel problems.

Despite the successive hard knocks dealt him by the uncompromising, often cruel Vendee Globe, the hard driving skipper from Brittany's Bay of Morlaix - who grew up sailing with and against the childhood friends that now also rank among his biggest rivals to win this race, Armel Le Cleac'h and Yann Elies, Beyou remains eternally pragmatic and grounded.

As with others who have yet to beat the Vendee Globe, successive failures have only rendered him harder and smarter. His uncompromising strength and fitness programme is, once again, the talk of the dock. Technically he has striven relentlessly to improve and optimise his Maitre CoQ, formerly Le Cleac'h's Banque Populaire which finished second in the last edition, he and his team making the decision to retro fit foils last winter and relaunching the boat on 16th April this year.

The Vendee Globe race village remains a popular pilgrimage for hundreds of thousands of visitors who travel to Les Sables d'Olonne to see the 29 strong fleet of IMOCA race boats, the skippers and to enjoy the expansive, interactive displays.

In the first week since opening (from 15th to 23rd October), more than 300,000 visitors came to Port-Olona. This is more or less the same numbers as visited during the corresponding pre-start week in 2012. The fine weather, school holidays and the fast approaching date of the start means the crowds are increasing by the day.

Good Clean Racing
Seahorse Catherine Zennstrom is among those leaning on grand prix racing to clean up its act

Life always feels a bit more than full-on each and every day of a typical 52 Super Series regatta. Among those under most time pressure this season have been the shore crews. Up until an August hiatus prompted by the Olympics their schedule has been extremely tight. The drive to ensure that each raceboat operates perfectly for every second that it is out on the water is never ending, magnified by how close the battle for every point has been this season.

Under these circumstances it is gratifying that all the racing teams' nominated 'environmental ambassadors', who are mostly drawn from the shore technicians, are still making it a priority to gather together at each event, discussing and developing new ways to fulfil their brief; the 52 Super Series wants to be at the sharp end in today's efforts to deliver more sustainable, environmentally aware sailing events... a movement that, appropriately for a 'green' activity, is starting to gain momentum across the sport.

Spithill Won Light And Tricky Day In Busan
Australian long-time match racing skipper Katie Spithill prepared for her yearly Busan appearance by running a marathon. Her Wednesday on the waters outside Haeundae Beach was a bit less gruelling than that, with three straight wins and no losses. Dane Trine Palludan was undefeated before losing her last match of the day to the Aussie team.

"Dynamic Busan" is the slogan for the 1988 Olympic sailing venue, but the Wednesday sailing conditions just outside the beautiful Haeundae Beach unfortunately did not live up to that saying at all. Although Principal Race Officer Christophe Gaumont managed to get one flight of three matches going, in very light conditions in the morning, only two of them were finished.

The round-robin stage of the Busan Cup Women's International Match Race continues Thursday on the beautiful waters outside Haeundae Beach.

Standings after 2nd day of round-robin in the Busan Cup Women's International Match Race, the 4th event of the 2016 WIM Series (name, nationality, wins - losses, winning percentage):

1. Trine Palludan, DEN, 7 - 1, 88 %
2. Stephanie Roble, USA, 4 - 1, 80 %
2. Lucy Macgregor, GBR, 4 - 1, 80 %
4. Katie Spithill, AUS, 6 - 2, 75 %
5. Pauline Courtois, FRA, 5 - 3, 63 %
6. Anna Östling, SWE, 3 - 2, 60 %
6. Claire Leroy, FRA, 3 - 2, 60 %
8. Caroline Sylvan, SWE, 4 - 4, 50 %
9. Renee Groeneveld, NED, 2 - 3, 40 %
9. Diana Kissane, IRL, 1 - 7, 13 %
11. Milly Bennett, AUS, 0 - 5, 0 %
12. Gyeong Jin Lee, KOR, 0 - 8, 0 %

IRC Annual Congress Attracts Global Interest
Forty delegates from 15 countries descended upon Cowes, Isle of Wight, the home of yachting in the UK, for the annual Congress of the Spinlock International Rating Certificate (IRC) Owners' Association. The weekend was hosted by the RORC Rating Office at the RORC Cowes Clubhouse and the Royal Yacht Squadron, with representatives travelling from all over the world including Australia, the USA, Europe, Japan and SE Asia. Discussions varied from technical aspects of the IRC Rule, which is jointly owned by RORC in the UK and UNCL in France, to race management, measurement, and certificate administration.

Technical Developments for 2017
Simplifying the rating of aft rigging
As racing yacht design becomes more complex and varied, the ethos of IRC is to keep the Rule as simple as possible, protect the existing fleet and try as much as possible to control costs. With this in mind one notable change for 2017 will be a development in the treatment of aft rigging. In recent years it has become apparent that the established definitions for backstays, running backstays and checkstays do not suit all types of modern rigging arrangements. For 2017 IRC will not distinguish between these different types but will count the total number of aft rigging stays, which will simplify the application process for owners.

Addressing undesirable trends
A second change for 2017 reflects the recent trend of moving lead from the bulb into the fin. The IRC Technical Committee does not consider this trend to be healthy for the sport, so in future will be asking for a declaration of the amount of lead in the keel fin for certain types of keel. Members of Congress agreed with both these changes which will come into force on January 1st 2017.

More details of the above mentioned technical changes, and the IRC 2017 Rule text and Definitions

Honouring An Olympic Sailing Gold Medal Of 68 Years Ago
In life you get some opportunities to do the right thing, and for me this was one of them. In January 2014 my father Dermot O'Flynn, past President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, died suddenly at the wonderful age of 94. A father, a great surgeon, and a yachtsman who enjoyed any opportunity to be out and about near or on the sea, he left me many happy memories. And he also left me an Olympic Gold Sailing Medal from the 1948 London Olympic Games (understandably known as the Austerity Olympics) which was won by Jim Weekes, who had crewed on the winning American 6 Metre Llanoria.

She was designed by Sparkman & Stephens, and owned by Herman Whiton, who was a member of Seawanhaka Yacht Club on Long Island, New York. On the crew registration for the 1948 Olympics, Jim was listed as James Weekes and the rest of the crew from Seawanhaka Yacht Club were Herman Whiton, Alfred Loomis (who was one of the leading sailing journalists of his day), Michael Mooney & James Smith.

The 6 Metres were the largest and most prestigious of the yachts competing in the 1948 London Olympics, which also included Dragons, Swallows, Stars and the 12ft Firefly dinghy. The famous Danish sailor Paul Elvstrom won his first Gold Medal that year sailing a Firefly dinghy, so Jim and the crew were in good company.

My father was gifted the Medal in 1981 by James Weekes' wife Kay, who had a been a long term patient and friend of my father. In the accompanying letter she wrote:

"This token comes with my deep affection, no other man deserves it better other than the one who won it, there are no sailors in my family, hand it down to one of yours when the time comes"

My father made the decision to hand down the medal to me probably because I survived the Fastnet Race in 1979 in a 30ft racing yacht, sailed across the Atlantic in 35-foot Camper & Nicholson sloop in 1981, managed a second overall in The Middle Sea Race, and loved sailing all types of boats whether they be dinghies, IRC racing machines, or classic cruising yachts. Yet after putting the medal under lock and key for a while, I came to the decision that the medal did not belong to me or my family, but should be returned to Seawanhaka YC, and so my journey started.

2020 Vendee Globe Hopefuls Visit The Village
Today, ten skippers visited the official Vendee Globe Village, including seven from outside of France. They were not there as tourists, but as potential candidates for the 2020 race. The ten sailors were given a guided tour of everything on display in the company of Jacques Caraes, the Vendee Globe Race Director, before having lunch with the president of the SAEM, Yves Auvinet.

Among the ten are some big French names, Yoann Richomme, winner of the Solitaire du Figaro, Antony Marchand and Nicolas Boidevezi, as well as competitors from outside of France, Amaiur Alfaro, Christophe Bullens, Simon Clay, Jonas Gerkens, Giancarlo Pedote, Norbert Sedlacek, and Jonathan Green. It looks like 2020 will be another truly international affair.

There are several different categories within this little group. Nicolas Boidevezi probably has the most unusual background. Registered for the 2016 race, Nicolas had to give up at the last moment due to insufficient funding. The boat was ready to go, but he had to make a wise choice. After retiring on the final stretch to the start, his determination to be there in 2020 has only grown.

Amaiur Alfaro is presenting a project that is much closer to Sebastien Destremau's, focusing on adventure. The Basque wishes to complete the round the world voyage on an IMOCA from 1998, which is already in his possession. "Like Nicolas, I wanted to take part in the 2016 Vendee Globe, but I got my boat too late. I'd like to line up in 2020 with an improved rig and a project linked to renewable energy," explained Amaiur Alfaro. "I'm setting off on an adventure. My goal will be to complete the Vendee Globe."

There was a famous guest on Vincent Riou's PRB today. Philippe Poupon, who took part in two Vendee Globe races, is still fascinated by the competition. "If someone asked me to set sail again with a boat that was ready, I'd willingly do it," said the Captain of Fleur Australe. His two attempts at the Vendee Globe will be remembered, in particular because of the famous incident, when his monohull Fleury-Michon was upturned and filmed by Loick Peyron, who had gone to his aid in the first Vendee Globe in 1989. The sailor was luckier in the second edition, finishing third with a jury rig in 1993.

Letters To The Editor -
Letters are limited to 350 words. No personal attacks are permitted. We do require your name but your email address will not be published without your permission.

* From John Stott: I read with a feeling of familiarity WMN's piece about the smoking Russian carrier.

My grandfather was Chief engineer of the carrier HMS Venerable from build and soon afterwards in the rush to take possession of Hong Kong at the end of WWII. She was sent as part of a task force to "get there before the Americans" sailing from Sydney. She was the slowest ship in the fleet and made 21Kts on trials.

However after some hours working up the turbines and boilers she got up to 21.5Kts, but was making black smoke, which was considered very bad form in peace time and a give away to enemy subs and aircraft in wartime. However the imperative was getting to HK quickly and the Japanese forces were largely subdued by then.

When the signal came from the admirals flagship, "stop making Black smoke" grandfather was summoned to the bridge and gave his response, 21.5Kts and black smoke or 21Kts and a clear funnel? The captain sent the same message back to the flag ship, to which the signal, after some time, came back 21.5Kts!

That same ship was sold to the Netherlands and subsequently to Argentina, where she was in service in 1983 when she posed a serious threat, but was taken back to port after the sinking of the Belgrano. She was scrapped in 2001 on a beach in India.

Apart from having diesel engines, the difference between WMNs story and the above is that the liberation of Hong Kong was a very positive thing for the inhabitants who were starving and emaciated, but I suspect the Russian carrier mission will sadly be quite different.

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The Last Word
What is it that makes us human? It's not something you can program. You can't put it into a chip. It's the strength of the human heart. The difference between us and machines. -- Marcus Wright

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