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
Britain's Alex Thomson is no longer losing miles to the race leader, Armel Le Cleac'h. the gap between the two has stabilised at around 500 miles with Hugo Boss on a more southerly route than Banque Populaire VIII, meaning Thomson has a shorter distance to sail. Latest simulations predict that they will now only be a day apart at the Horn with Armel passing on 23rd and Alex on 24th. They are both sailing at around 19 or 20 knots this morning. Armel Le Cleac'h has just passed another milestone having sailed two-thirds of the course for the Vendee Globe.

* Ruyant's relief as he approaches Bluf

Some time just before 1030hrs UTC this morning Thomas Ruyant on his critically damaged IMOCA Le Souffle du Nord breathed a huge sigh of relief when he took on board two specialist technicians who were armed with a pump.

With the bow section of his IMOCA flooded and the stern clear of the water, the boat pitching out of control he had spent many uncertain hours fighting to bring his boat to safety, often losing steerage In big seas and buffeting winds which gusted to over 55 knots, Ruyant thought many times he was on the absolute brink of losing his boat and having to activate a rescue plan.

The epic struggle of 35 year-old Vendee Globe first timer from the north east of France looked set to reach its best possible outcome, given the substantial structural damage to his boat. At 1530hrs UTC, with the two specialists on board and the pump working, Le Souffle du Nord was 25 miles - or about four hours - from the haven of Bluff, the southernmost town on South Island, New Zealand. Ruyant has limped more than 220 miles with his boat which threatened to split in two after hitting a hard object, which he believes to have been a shipping container, at 17kts on Sunday evening.

* Keel ram problem on SMA

This afternoon at 1415 UTC, Paul Meilhat contacted his team to inform them of a problem with his keel ram. The ram has a 40 cm (16 inch) crack and this has led to the keel canting leeward of the boat. Paul is in the process of blocking the system to try to get the keel in the middle. To carry out this operation, he bore away and is heading towards the north.

It was after hearing an unusual noise early this afternoon that the skipper of SMA went to inspect his keel housing. He immediately realised that oil from the hydraulic circuit had flooded the ram compartment. He thought first of all that it was a pipe that had burst in the hydraulic circuit, but then noticed a 40 cm crack in the ram itself.

SMA is currently in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, 2000 miles east of New Zealand.

IDEC Sport Approaching The Equator
Francis Joyon and his crew of five have been dealing with the Doldrums since last night. Forecast not to be very active and to be fairly narrow at 25 degrees W, the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone has lived up to its reputation. The IDEC SPORT maxi-trimaran has not encountered the horrible wind variations and sudden thunderstorms that led them to abort their attempt last month.

In spite of being slowed down, early this afternoon they are still 125 miles ahead of the pace. The crew are focusing on what is up on the horizon, where Francis and his lads hope to be able to pick up a good SE'ly breeze announcing the trade winds in the Southern Hemisphere. At the start of this sixth day of racing, IDEC SPORT is just 70 miles from the Equator that they may well cross in less time than the Jules Verne Trophy record-holder (Banque Populaire V), which crossed this imaginary line in 2012 after 5 days and 16 hours of racing.

150 miles east of the route taken at this point by Banque Populaire V on her record-breaking voyage, IDEC SPORT can feel upbeat about what lies ahead in the mid-term. "It's true the further east we are, the shorter the route," explained Francis, "with an interesting angle to the wind to come around slowly as we dive south." The point of sail close to sailing upwind that lies ahead for the maxi-trimaran once out of the Doldrums does not worry the sailors on IDEC SPORT. "The boat sails well in every point of sail. Upwind sailing just means more uncomfortable slamming against the seas," stressed Bernard Stamm.



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Italians Lift Nations Trophy To Close AON Youth Worlds
The 2016 Aon Youth Sailing World Championship came to a close in Auckland, New Zealand with Italy lifting the Nations Trophy, an award that recognises the best performing nation overall.

Master of ceremonies, and affectionately known as the 'voice of yachting', Pete Montgomery began proceedings at the Auckland University of Technology City Campus by welcoming the 389 sailors from 65 nations, coaches and guests.

Italy claimed the honour for the third time in the history of the award, finishing just six points ahead of Great Britain in second. The team of 14 sailors took to the stage, passionately singing their national anthem to hundreds in attendance.

Finland's Martin Mikkola was awarded the Bengt Julin Trophy which is a unique trophy awarded to a competitor or a National Team that has done most to foster international understanding and displaying attributes that should be encouraged in international competition at the Youth Worlds. The award was voted entirely by the sailors. -- Richard Aspland - World Sailing

Full results

M32 Miami Winter Series
The M32 Class is excited to kick-off the New Year with Act One of the M32 Miami Winter Series. Seven teams will be looking to escape the cold and meet on Biscayne Bay with a return to Miami after racing in Bermuda last winter. Three new teams will be joining the Winter fleet: Pieter Taselaar and Team Bliksem; Rick DeVos on Team REV; and Ryan DeVos on XS Energy. For Team Bronco, Convexity, Escape Velocity and Liftoff this will be the return for the 3rd year on the bay.

The M32 class will set up camp in the newly renovated Regatta Park in Coconut Grove, Miami for the winter season and sail a four event series with the third event being part of the Bacardi Miami Race Week. "After a successful five event M32 Series North America this summer we are very excited to be back in Miami. The conditions for racing are fantastic and the venue in Coconut Grove fits our needs. We have a close partnership with the Coconut Grove Sailing Club and we look forward to getting lots of winter racing." James Pleasance says and continues, "The interest around the class is continuing to grow and we will have up to nine teams join us in later events."

M32 Miami Winter Series 2017:
Event 1: January 6-8th
Event 2: February 10-12th
Event 3: March 9-12th (part of Bacardi Miami Sailing Week)
Event 4: April 7-9th

Annalise Murphy Irish Times Sport Ireland Sportswoman Of The Year
Olympic silver medallist Annalise Murphy has been crowned The Irish Times Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year for 2016.

The 26 year old, claimed silver in the Women's Laser Radial Class following a pulsating medal race at Guanabara Bay in Rio in August.

Murphy, from Rathfarnham in Dublin, displayed tremendous courage and skill to bounce back from the disappointment of a 4th place finish at the London Olympics in 2012. At the Awards she described how she had to pick herself up from paralysing self doubt just months ahead of the Games before battling her way through the six day event for a deserved podium place.

"It's just so wonderful to have your achievements recognised in this way. When you hear about all the achievements of all the monthly award winners you realise what a great place we're in...It's an incredible day out to get to chat with the other women that have won awards. I really love it, it's a pretty special day" Murphy said.

Her success was Ireland's first medal in sailing since David Wilkins and James Wilkinson won silver in the Flying Dutchman class in Moscow back in 1980.

This is the 13th year of the awards and the sailor had to overcome competition from 11 other monthly award winners to claim the 2016 title.

Wight Vodka Favourite Yachting Bar Competition
Wight Vodka Favourite Yachting Bar Competition It's time to put your thoughts into words and send in your nominations for 2016's Favourite Yachting Bar competition! Now in its eigth year, this competition is now tacking and gybing to the starting line!

Our past roster of winners is world class:

Peter Cafe Sport in the Azores - 2009
Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke in the BVI - 2010
IYAC in Newport, Rhode Island - 2011
Sint Maarten Yacht Club - 2012
One Bar Playa Blanca in Lanzarote, Spain - 2013
King & Queen Pub in Hamble - 2014

And our first double winner year... in 2015 it was Plas Heli in Wales and Pier View in Cowes taking the honours.

This year we have extended the submissions and voting until end January 2017.

Submit your nominees at until Friday January 6 2017.

From all of the submissions, the team at Wight Vodka will choose the top 10 bars which are put forward for the online voting from Monday January 9 through Tuesday January 30.

We announce the winner on February 1 2017.

Tell us your favourite:

Wight Vodka
Tack & Gybe Responsibly

Murray Jones To Boost Emirates Team New Zealand Ranks
Emirates Team New Zealand has significantly bolstered the team's ranks by signing one of the country's most successful America's Cup campaigners, Murray Jones, to help guide the team in the most important six months of the 35th America's Cup campaign.

Jones, a five time winner of the America's Cup, who won the Auld Mug with Team New Zealand in 1995 and 2000 was identified by Emirates Team New Zealand as one of the key figures behind Oracle Team USA's comeback victory in 2013 because of his critical understanding of what makes both a boat and team work to its optimum.

An America's Cup Hall of Famer, Jones is excited to be back with the team he first won the America's Cup with early in his sailing career.

"It's great to be back, it has been a long time since I was part of this team. I have a lot of friends in the team and a lot of people that I have respected over the years and obviously a really great sailing and design team."

How has Jones eventually come a full circle to rejoin the team?

"Up until now, I had stepped out of the cup this time around. But as the teams progressed in their campaigns I obviously started to get a bit more interested in what is going on and missing it a little bit and coincidentally Glenn Ashby called up and asked me if I was interested in helping out so he talked me into it."

Galway Dock's Battle Of The Christmas Lights
Galway Docks, with the water level kept constant by an access lock to the sea, matches well with Eyre Square as a nautical version of the city's most significant public space writes W M Nixon.

And with Christmas upon us, the charm of the docks is enhanced by an increasing number of boats in the marina rigging themselves with displays of festive lights. So much so, in fact, that Cormac Mac Donncha has dropped us a line and the above photo with the comment: "Despite efforts to outdo our neighbours on the marina, with a set of red lights running from the top of the 26m high mast aboard Atlantic Way Sailing's Hanse 531, we have been outshone by the high wattage, flashing lights aboard the yachts of fellow marina users. While they may have lowered the tone of the display this year, we are considering an upgrade again next year to return us to our rightful position as most impressive vessel of the season..."

Quite so. But take heed, you yotties of Galway. You face an escalating process which might become endless. At the height of the most extravagant years of the Celtic Tiger, some marinas saw the complete brightly-lit paraphernalia of Santa Claus with his team of reindeer, sleigh and all, heading skywards from the top of the mizzen mast to the mainmast head on certain ketch-rigged boats.

As for the fully-decorated Christmas tree with lights put skillfully above the electronic broccoli at the masthead, that's old hat...

WM Nixon's article in Afloat:

Sydney-Hobart: Fleet Facing New Threat From Floating Containers
For many years, yachtsmen racing to Hobart have reported collisions with sunfish, whales, sharks and assorted floating rubbish but floating shipping containers, lost overboard from freighters in storms, pose the greatest safety problem for present-day racers. Modern carbon-fibre yacht hulls are immensely strong but brittle and are susceptible to extensive damage from high-speed impacts with solid steel objects, such as shipping containers.

Supermaxis such as Wild Oats XI, Perpetual Loyal, Scallywag and CQS could reach speeds in excess of 30 knots on the way to Hobart. A collision with a floating container at that speed could totally disable, or even sink, a big yacht.

The commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, John Markos, said it was time the maritime industry took more responsibility for lost containers to ensure they didn't float around the world's oceans for years.

"They know when they lose a container, and usually they lose half a dozen or so at a time, so why can't they do something like a man-overboard drill and turn the ship around and sink those that are afloat. It is not good enough for the containers to be left floating about. They could also examine fitting satellite tracking devices to containers, so they could be hunted down."

New Three Day Whitsun Open Regatta Planned At HISC
Hayling Island Sailing Club is planning a new three day Open Regatta event for the Whitsun Bank Holiday weekend 27th, 28th, 29th May 2017. The event promises to be an exciting opportunity for both adult and youth racing classes with a busy social calendar being planned for competitors and families alongside. Earlybird entry fees as well as accommodation packages will be available.

The exciting new Open event has already attracted interest from from Solos, RS Elites, RS200s. Fireballs, Flying Fifteens, RS Fevas, RS Teras, Optimists and 29ers. In addition classes such as Moths, RS700s, Merlin Rockets, International 14s, RS800 and Lasers are all expected to have good turn-outs.

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Please contact William Jenkins at 410-267-9419

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The Last Word
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