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

Dressed To Impress
RORC Transatlantic Race After just over 18 days at sea, James Heald's Swan 45, Nemesis crossed the finish line in Grenada of the 2016 RORC Transatlantic Race in the very early hours of Thursday morning, 15 December. Racing among a fleet of boats from around the world, the Lymington-based duo have won the IRC Two Handed division, were 6th overall in IRC and snatched 2nd place in IRC One. Quite an exemplary achievement with just the two sailors on board for the 3,000 nautical mile race.

James Heald and Ben Harris are both from Lymington, UK and battled against adverse weather, extreme fatigue and suffered significant sail damage to their yacht. The British duo were undaunted and arrived in Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina dressed to impress in dinner jackets. Two pizzas and a crate of beer arrived from the Victory Bar & Restaurant and the dynamic duo told their story dockside as they got stuck into the feast.

"About half the race was upwind and for a significant amount of time there was either no wind of 30 knots," explained James Heald. "Having said that, we absolutely loved it and would gladly go straight back out there and do the RORC Transatlantic Race again! 

"The last three days we saw great trade winds, but the angle to Grenada was almost dead downwind, meaning a lot of gybes. The mainsail started to rip about 300 miles out so we got it down, stitched it up and downwind it was not really a problem, but upwind and the finish was quite different."

Seahorse Sailor Of The Month
Last month's winner:

Rich Wilson (USA)
'Doing the hardest race again for all the right reasons' - Win Fowler; 'Cool, calm and knowledgeable about pretty much everything, these adventures of his motivate many, many others, the old as well as the young!!!' - Tom Robinson; 'To undertake the most challenging sailing race in the world at the age of 66, and then to take one million kids around with you... just wow!' - Les Richter; 'Love all of the work he does for education, plus how he is pushing himself at his age... an inspiring man' - Charles McCaffrey.

This month's nominees:


Rob Greenhalgh (GBR)
No sooner do we start to compile a list of some of Rob's bigger achievements, in skiffs, foilers and most of the big ocean races, than he goes and upsets our tidy sheet of paper by banging in another one, winning the Amlin Moth invitational regatta in Bermuda for the second year in a row. Closer to home and this nomination is really in recognition of the big part he has played in reviving Grand Prix racing in northern Europe with the Fast40+


Andrew McDougall (AUS)
Godfather to the foiler Moth community, designer and builder of most of the major title winners during the past 10 years, but all these achievements are shaded by his painstaking work designing, building, refining and then preparing for the production build of his Waszp... 'the people's foiler'. The result -boats are now being sold faster than McConaghy in China can build them. And they are already building around 20 a week...


Seahorse Sailor of the Month is sponsored by Henri Lloyd, Harken McLube & Dubarry. Who needs silverware, our prizes are usable!

Cast your vote, submit comments, even suggest a candidate for next month at

To subscribe to Seahorse Digital £30 for one year with discount promo code SB2 click

Land Rover Bar Head To Bermuda For The Final Lap
The Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series is over and Land Rover BAR have two vital bonus points forward into the next stage of the competition for the 35th America's Cup. The team now start the transition of sailing operations from Portsmouth to Bermuda.

The first two shipments of boats and equipment have left the base, an award-winning building at Camber Docks in Old Portsmouth. The new sailing and hospitality facility located in Bermuda's Royal Navy Dockyard has been under construction since mid-summer and sailing will begin there for the team in early December.

About fifty per cent of the team will move to Bermuda, but many of them will be on rotation from Portsmouth, which will remain the core of the operation and the teams home. The team has built a 'Virtual Chase Boat' to allow engineers and performance analysts to monitor all the sailing in Bermuda from mission control in Portsmouth. In addition to the team members in Bermuda 54 family members will be moving full time including 30 children (Inc 6 babies).

BT, the team's Technology in Sustainability Partner has built the data channel that allows the 190 sensors and four video cameras to report in real time from the America's Cup race course on the Great Sound, Bermuda all the way back to Portsmouth. Once there, the performance analysis is supported with tools developed with help from Title and Exclusive Innovation Partner Land Rover.

Sydney-Hobart: Mike Strong Pins Hopes On 81-Year-Old Sloop Landfall
Most sailors who set out to win the Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race try to get aboard the newest, fastest and biggest yacht available, but Sydney businessman Mike Strong is pinning his hopes on an 81-year-old sloop that is the ­second-oldest boat in the fleet and one that hasn't had a good record in recent years.

Landfall, which was built in Hobart in 1935, has raced to the Tasmanian capital four times but only made it there twice. For the past two years Strong has started with high hopes on Boxing Day, only to be forced out with damaged sails in 2014 and with a badly leaking hull last year.

When Landfall slid down the slipway of Percy Coverdale's Hobart boatyard in 1935 she was as radical as any of the supermaxis in this year's race. She came from the drawing board of a 24-year-old American named Olin Stephens, who was destined to become the leading yacht designer of the 20th century, and who was just starting to make a splash in the world of yacht design.

Stephens, the driving force behind the world-renowned design team of Sparkman & Stephens, had just returned to the US after startling Europeans with the performance of one of his earliest yachts when he found a letter from Tasmania on his desk.

Strong said the only problem he had faced with getting an 81-year-old yacht into the race was presenting officials with up-to-date paperwork. "She hadn't been raced since 1976, so in 2014 I had to get Olin Stephens' original blueprints and get a naval architect to translate them into computer drawings. But once it was all done we were amazed. I think we have the best handicap in the whole fleet when the 80-year age allowance is added."

Ninety yachts are entered to start the race at 1pm on Boxing Day.

M32 Series In Australia
Over the last season Aston Harald Sports has opened M32 Series in Bermuda, Monaco, Miami and in the Mediterranean as well as a World Championship in July in Marstrand, Sweden.

These have been a great complement to the M32 racing that already was organized in Scandinavia and in North America.

To meet the growing interest in the M32 class in Australia the commercial owner of the brand M32 Series today announce the start of a new series, The M32 Series Western Australia.

M32 Series Australia will start out with two events in the new year. The first event, in February, will be sailed on Geographe Bay, Busselton near the famous wine district of Margaret River where the Royal Perth Yacht Club race management team working with the host venue at Port Geographe Marina. The second event will be organized on the Swan River at the Mounts Bay Sailing Club in Perth in March.

For interest to enter or on the M32 catamaran please contact

M32 Series Western Australia
Act 1 Busselton, Port Geographe Marina, 14-17 February 2017
Act 2 Perth, Swan River, Mounts Bay Sailing Club, 13-15 March 2017

Mee & Norris's RS200 Dominates Datchet Flyer
Matt Mee and Emma Norris from Burghfield sailed their RS200 to a dominant victory at the Datchet Flyer, the second event of the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series.

Behind them was a much tighter battle for the other podium places on a predominantly light airs weekend that attracted a sell-out entry of 100 boats including a number of multihulls that entered the first event of the Winter Cat Series.

While Mee's two victories from Saturday's three races put the leading RS200 out of reach, Ben Schooling continued to outperform the other Musto Skiffs as he always does in this style of close-quarters handicap racing to win the middle race of Saturday and do enough in Sunday's pursuit race to clinch second overall by just two points ahead of another RS200, Ben Palmer and Rheanna Pavey who finished third overall. Finishing on equal points with Palmer but missing out on the tiebreak was Mike Lyons sailing his Halo singlehander.

The Datchet Flyer is unusual in running a split-start pursuit race format on the Sunday, which means the faster boats enjoy a longer race than with the traditional format. So there were two winners of Sunday's race, with Russ and Penny Clark running off with the fast division in their RS400 while GP14 World Champion Ian Dobson and Gemma Marshall won the slow division.

Dobson, overall winner of last season's GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series, improved his overnight position to fifth overall, just a point behind Lyons' Halo. A point further back from Dobson was Craig Williamson, who had sailed his Laser to such devastating effect at the first event of the series in November, the Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash.

The next event in the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series comes up soon after Christmas when the Yorkshire Dales Brass Monkey takes place in the most spectacular surroundings on 27 December. Then it's on to the Grafham Grand Prix on 2 January 2017, also the second leg of the Winter Cat Series.

Irish Sea Offshore Racing Association  2017 Programme
ISORA has published its 2017 offshore racing programme featuring a mixture of coastal and offshore races, on both sides of the Irish Sea. 

The race series has been devised to incorporate  feeder races to regattas such as the IRC Welsh National Championships at Pwllheli in August ( and the ever popular Lyver race ( a RORC Fastnet qualifier) which both feeds the 2017 Dun Laoghaire Regatta ( and forms part of the regatta offshore championship. Also included is the iconic and popular  D2D race from Dun Laoghaire.

ISORA Chairman Peter Ryan commented that the programme was designed to attract both experienced and new offshore racers,  with races designed to fit around the regattas on both side of the Irish sea.

The full programme is available at

Controversy Brews at ARC Rally Over Cruising Yachts' Engine Hours
How far would you go to win the silverware?

Would you listen to the relentless thud of a diesel engine for days on end while pretending to everyone outside that you were sailing along in your own private breeze?

Would you expect your crew to lie with you about it?

This is an accusation that has raised its ugly form at the ARC this year. The full title of 'Atlantic Rally for Cruisers' might lead you to think this is exclusively a come-what-may sail across to the Caribbean.

There is a racing division, but the cruising divisions are also ranked for results and are full of competitive crews. The main difference between the cruising divisions and the outright racers is that the former are allowed to use their engines for propulsion.

This throws up two sets of problems. First, the cruising divisions take a penalty for motoring hours that varies each year depending on actual conditions and is not known until the finish, but it always strongly favours 'strategic motoring' through calm patches.

Secondly - and controversially this year - the records of engine hours and hence the overall results depend on skippers making an honest declaration.

Cheating in sailing is not novel, and certainly not confined to the ARC - in many offshore races certain yachts are known to sail faster at night. But with the very light winds experienced on the rally this year, motoring hours are higher and the temptation in a few cases, it seems, is to be somewhat economical with the truth.

Ireland's Most Popular Sail Training Ship's Building Shed Destroyed
A massive fire in in Arklow has engulfed and destroyed what most people thought was a large warehouse beside the old Inner Dock writes W M Nixon. But it was in this "warehouse" in the late 1970s and early '80s that Jack Tyrrell and his men built the 84ft sail training brigantine Asgard II, which he had designed himself and promoted as a developing ideal through much of the 1970s.

In fact, it was the prospect of Asgard II becoming reality in 1977 which prompted the building of the shed, which became a place of pilgrimage, a small but quietly emotive cathedral of classic wooden ship-building for maritime enthusiasts from near and far as the fine ship took shape to fulfill many people's long-held dream.

For reasons which still have never been fully explained, Asgard II foundered in the Bay of Biscay in September 2008 while on her way to La Rochelle. This was planned to be an extended visit to include three weeks of complete survey and inspection in a shipyard which might well have revealed the damaged seacock which many reckon was the cause of her sinking.

After 27 years of very active service, Asgard's hull was in any case overdue for replacement. But it was not to be, and Ireland is still without a national sail training ship.

How To Reef While Sailing Downwind
You don't always want to have to come head-to-wind to reef. In this extract from his latest book, The Complete Ocean Skipper, Tom Cunliffe talks about how to reduce canvas without turning around

On the face of things, any mainsail is happier being reefed or unreefed at an angle to the breeze that allows it to spill wind. But this does not mean 'head-to-wind', and if you are suffering a system that demands this, the only thing to do is get rid of it now.

Fortunately, despite strange lessons taught in mysterious covens of ignorance, few arrangements really do ask for this. If the sail-handling gear is any good at all, reefing should be easily dealt with by coming on to a reach close enough to set the apparent wind forward of the beam, easing the sheet and letting things flog for a few seconds while you deal with the heave-ho part of the operation.

Full excerpt:

Excerpted from The Complete Ocean Skipper by Tom Cunliffe, Bloomsbury, £30

Featured Brokerage
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Raceboats Only 2010 Corby Dale Nelson 36 - 2010. Located in Wales, UK.

From the drawing board of John Corby, the technology of a cedar strip/carbon fibre composite hull.

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Ancasta Port Hamble

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The Last Word
A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. -- James Madison

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