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

Vendee Globe: Gybing Away
On the evening rankings at 1800hrs UTC Armel Le Cleac'h has moved clear ahead of Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss. The British skipper waited for the mid afternoon position report to drop before gybing to the east, in theory away from the approaching high pressure ridge and therefore seeking to stay in stronger breeze.

He may have given up his lead but he is going quicker than Banque Populaire. The leaders are expected to stay close to the Portuguese coast as they descend south.

The Traffic Separation Scheme meant a choice was necessary about whether to stay close to the coast or sail a long way offshore. The majority are choosing the easterly option, but this requires lots of gybes and is therefore very tiring. On the other hand, Kojiro Shiraishi has headed further west and looks like avoiding the TSS via the outside.

There is no choice for the fleet but to cross the ridge of high pressure off Cape St Vincent. For around 20 hours they can expect a gentle 8-knot NW'ly. The wind will then pick up again veering NE'ly to take them all the way to the Doldrums. The leaders are expected to pass the Canaries on Wednesday.

There is already 170 miles between the first places and 28th placed Sebastien Destremau on his FaceOcean Techno First.

This evening Destremau reported: "We are going well under the J2 and full main. I should really get the A7 kite out but I am taking it easy. Amazing to think we are starting a round the world race. It was an emotional send off from Les Sables d'Olonne. The channel, family, friends, the start. These are great moments to live through. Doing something with a knife I cut my finger quite deeply. I stuck it with steri strips after disinfecting it well. After dressing it well I have made a cheese omelette with onions. It was top! I am wondering if i need to stitch my finger, but I think I'll wait and see how it closes."

Position tracking (note the extreme position to the east that Thomson has taken...)

The Other Presidential Election
Away from the drama, real and imagined which is playing out in the USA, some 900 World Sailing conference registrants are assembled in Barcelona on Spain's north east Med. Coast for the all-important four yearly election, with Presidential and Board Elections at this year's Annual Conference

It is interesting to note that for the last 10 months the host country Spain was without an elected Government, with Mariano Rajoy's conservative party acting in caretaker mode. Interestingly the country has thrived without political decisions, it's the fastest recovering economy in the European Union.

It seemed to many observers that ISAF-World Sailing had a caretaker President during 2012-2016, with Carlo Croce, appearing to be very hands-off style. He and his seven-person executive seeming somewhat disconnected and it is difficult to point to serious progress made across those years.

One of the reasons why World Sailing has appeared like a blancmange over some decades now, has been the submission system which has meant the last two days of annual council has been focused on processing some hundreds and hundreds of MNA requests for changes often moving in opposite directions.

Two years ago, in Palma, Mallorca this scribe saw example after example of as much time being spent on trivial and often quite uniformed Council decision making, as was spent on major decisions which had long term ramifications.

The lack of urgency in finding a replacement for Jerome Pels, followed by five months of Peter Sowrey, who resigned after a rocky time at the 2015 Annual Conference was not a high point for the ISAF leadership group, but then the appointment of Andy Hunt has at least provided some leadership at functional level and the changes made in July may have improved the decision-making processes.

For the last four years, we have continued to hear how World Sailing is poised ready to make a commercial success of the Sailing World Cup and Version Five now ahead of us.

Former President Paul Henderson has been vocal on the matter of the looming crisis with Kite Boarding looking for two Olympic places, at other sailing classes expense while at the same time the International Kite Sports Federation warning World Sailing to stay out of the sport.

So, with many stakeholders unimpressed with the lack of progress over the last four years, Denmark's Kim Andersen has presented a strong bid to replace Carl Croce and could provide a weekend upset. We will look at the possible makeup of the Board later this week.

Interesting times ahead!

Rob Kothe
Founder of the network

Yacht Racing Forum: Time To Register!
- Meet the sports' key players
- Make new contacts
- Generate business

The Yacht Racing Forum is the leading annual conference for the business of sailing and yacht racing.

The event will take place in Malta on November 28-29.

The Forum will deliver ideas and concepts in three key areas that affect everyone in the yacht racing industry: Business & Marketing, Design & Technology and Risk Management & Safety.

This will be a great event, both informative and fun, and an excellent opportunity to network and do business!


China Club Challenge Match Report
The China Club Challenge Match Challenger Finals kicked off on Friday 4th November in Xiamen, China. The event , which is now in its 12 year is the longest running keelboat regatta in China and this weekend saw the 8 teams which qualified through an earlier 30 strong fleet racing element to be invited back for the match racing finals.

Two full round robins saw the race committee getting off 28 races a day for two days in challenging light air conditions which only completed as the sun sank below the high rise buildings surrounding Wu Yuan Bay on day two. On the water things were kept in order by IU's Wayne Boberg (NZL) and John Rountree (NZL) assisted by locals Alistair Skinner (GBR) and Ginger (CHN).

The organising authority went to great pains to ensure a fair and level playing field from flying in International Umpires to having the rigs equally tuned and then taped in place with the tape signed by an umpire, boat bottoms were all freshly cleaned by the organising committee and the sailing instructions clearly prohibiting any alterations topped off by a blind boat draw immediately prior to the event

Play of the first two days was when the Xiamen University team, carrying a penalty noticed their opponent was obstructed by the match ahead. They spun down into their turn and popped out into clear air turning the double disadvantage of a penalty and being behind to a healthy lead, a move that brought nods of approval from the following umpire boat.

Competition was tight with round robin 1 leaving 3 teams on equal points and a potentially difficult tie-break situation where A beat B beat C beat A. The second round robin provided the split leaving Big Boys Sailing, J-Boats Racing Team, Blue Ocean Sailing & Xiamen University coming out clear at the top of the standings

The semis most certainly didn't go to form with Big Boys being eliminated down to the Petite Final and J-Boats Racing Team having a tougher than expected task against the Xiamen University team.

The final was equally surprising with the Blue Ocean Team taking out J-Boats Race Team 3-0 after winning each start and then extending the whole way round, a clear case of the rich getting richer with the podium filled out by Xiamen University after winning the Petite Final which pushed former winners Big Boys Sailing down to 4th.

From a personal point of view it was nice to see Xiamen University reach to podium as this team was skippered by Eddie, now a tutor at the university but who made his first appearance at the event as a fresh faced undergraduate who is steadily maturing into a capable sail racer. Also good to see an event that, although the racing was close, hard fought and combative and sailed in charted boats and unlike some regattas in China, any contact between boats was almost so slight the 'bump' was barely audible on the umpire boats and none resulted in any damage whatsoever.

Little wonder this has led some commentators to describe the China Club Challenge Match as the most 'genuine' regatta in China. -- Alistair Skinner

Young Carers To Have First Sailing Taster With RSYC Trust
Paralympic Gold medallist Helena Lucas and an honorary member of the Royal Southampton, is to be an ambassador for the Yacht Club Trust which is to stage its first sailing event in November.

That should see ten young carers from Romsey benefitting from a taster sailing session with Southampton Water Activities Centre on Saturday, November 19.

The group of Romsey Young Carers will get their taster in two Sonar fixed keel yachts, for a morning sail from the Activities Centre and finishing up at the Club's pontoon in Ocean Village.

The RSYC Trust is the charitable arm of the Club and aims to make boating more accessible to everyone, regardless of circumstances.

The Club has for many years supported various charities through its Commodore's Charity initiative. The Commodore of the time selected the charity the club would support during the period of his or her tenure. Many of these were linked to sailing and water borne activities.

In 2015, the RSYC Executive agreed to expand the charitable efforts into an RSYC Trust. Since then the Club formed the charity, developed its capacity and organised fund raising. The Trust is run by totally by volunteers.

The aim is to promote the advancement of amateur sport, in particular the provision of facilities, equipment and assistance, including the awarding of grants, to enable and encourage participation in sailing and associated activities for the benefit of the public in the south of England.

The aims however are not limited solely to advancement of sailing but include other associated activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding and model yachting. In addition to the awarding grants or awards RSYC will develop sailing and instructing capability at Gins to enable those activities to be provided in house.

The first session for the group of Romsey Young Carers will include a briefing at the Activities Centre and a final reception, award of certificates and refreshments at the Ocean Village clubhouse. -- Michael Ford, Royal Southampton Yacht Club

Seahorse Ropes, like people, suffer from fatigue. Unlike people, a good night's sleep does not reinvigorate them.

What is fatigue? Fatigue is any mechanism that reduces the performance of a rope over time in service. This can be abrasion, UV damage, creep, bending fatigue or one of many lesser causes. This article will focus particularly on bending fatigue of high-performance Dyneema cored ropes.

As modern rope covers are getting more durable, including the increased availability of high-performance blends, they are lasting longer. Also more applications are appearing on boats that place ropes under higher loads and perhaps over smaller sheaves. All this results in fatigue becoming more relevant to sailors, riggers and boat designers than ever before.

A rope is made up of twisted yarns and each yarn contains hundreds of filaments. Every time a rope is flexed the fibres slide across one another, causing the filaments to abrade and eventually to break, thus reducing the strength of the rope. This is a cumulative process and if unchecked the rope will eventually have a strength less than the working load, resulting in an in-service failure.

Full article in the December issue of Seahorse:

Pwllheli Challenge (Autumn Series) Completed After Four Excellent Weekends Of Racing
After a light airs series in 2015, the winds arrived for this ever popular North Wales race series, hosted by Clwb Hwylio Pwllheli Sailing Club.

Entries were attracted from as far as Holyhead and Liverpool and PRO Robin Evans was able to split the entries into two classes using IRC 1.00 as the factor, which helped enormously with race management. Races were set around the Pwllheli Sailing Club racing marks and planned for between 1 and two hours each with two races each weekend day over the four weekend, that constituted the series.

Races were set and completed on all 8 of the days with just one abandoned due to a rig failure of a competing boat, where fellow competitors went to their aid.

Class 1 was won by the ever consistent J109 "Sgrech" skippered by Stephen Tudor, just ahead of Andrew Halls J125 "Jackknife", and class 3 by the HB32 "Honey Bee" skippered by Wil Partington who sailed the series very consistently in all wind conditions, to just beat the slickly crewed Liverpool based Sigma 33 "Legless again" skippered by Dave Hughes after the final race. The final weekend presented very strong gusty Northerly winds, which challenged all the crews, and will keep the sailmakers busy with many sail repairs! The two sport boats (J24 Jebus and J80 Jac Y Do) decided to head in and miss the last race after the experience of a long beat into a 25-30kt wind! Particularly as the J24 "Jebus" helm Rob Riddell had been dunked during a big broach and the boat flattened.

In class 3 Holyhead based "Harriet Marwood" relished the strong winds and sailed two very good races .

The apres sailing events in the Pwllheli Sailing Club bar, part of the Plas Heli Welsh National Sailing Academy * were well supported with adhoc prize giving on Saturdays and a variety of catering offerings on both days to keep all the crew and shore based supporters happy, with fireworks both on and off the water this weekend! These events were very well attended by all the competitors who are now looking forward to the Spring series, where we hope to add a coastal race and windward leeward course to the programme.

Anyone interested in some fun racing with a serious edge, with minimal tides, free of commercial traffic and stunning scenery, with discounted berthing on the event pontoons please contact

* Co-winner with Cowes' Pier View as 2016 Wight Vodka Favourite Yachting Bar competition

Team Costa Olanda Victorious In Venice 2K
With the glorious spires of Saint Marks as a backdrop Compagnia della Vela di Venezia hosted its first international 2K keelboat team racing event over the weekend.

Using the fleet of Elan 210 based at San Giorgio and supported by the brilliant infrastructure of the club, three days of intense racing took place in the Lagoon to the south of the island.

It was a girls weekend of triumphs; leading into the final day was Rome based RBYS captained by Bianca Crugnola, but two critical losses, one against the local team from Venice and the other against London based Serpentine, sealed their fate.

While things were going badly for Bianca and her team, Federica Sciuto skippering with Costa Olanda and DJ Korpershoek pounded home their early successes to take the podium.

2K team racing is unique in keelboat racing by having a strict gender equality rule that has helped to bring some of the very best female sailors to the fore.

While the race track saw the teams in tight combat, Venice also provided for some of the very best socials of the season.

Final roundup

1. Yacht Club Costa Olanda NED/ITA
2. Serpentine Racing GBR
3. Royal Cork IRL
4. Comapagnia della Vela Venezia ITA
5. Royal Yacht Squadron GBR
6. Rome Racing Team ITA
8. Bayerischer Yacht Club GER
10. Gamla Stan Yacht Club SWE
11. Royal Thames Yacht Club GBR

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 Paul Henderson, A Sailor, Nominee World Sailing Presidency:

Spent all day at an International Classes meeting. Interesting where the classes that skip on top of the water totally dominate the multitude of classes who displace water. Skiff, Windsurfers, Kitesurfers have an alliance and dominate led by the KITES.

The new ICC chair is the Executive Director of the International Kiteboarders Asoc His major job over the next few months will be to get Kites into TOKYO2020 Games. If he is successful 2 of the current Olympic events will be dropped. The issue will be at Council whether the Japan Y.A. Submission to keep the classes stable as in RIO2016 passes.

Still feel deleting Keel boats was a big mistake as over 95 % of Sailing takes place in boats that displace water either dinghies or keelboats and happens out of clubs and equipment owned by sailors who are the real shareholders of our diverse sport.

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Back On Thursday
As with most of the world... your humble narrator will be watching the US election returns on Tuesday night. Popcorn and whisky feels like the correct combination. No issue for this Wednesday. Eurobutt will return for the Thursday issue.

The Last Word
Change comes with both fear and some pain. Those two ingredients create mistrust, misunderstanding and misinformation. Such is the process of democracy. -- David Mixner

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