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

Any Room For Overtaking?
After losing the first set to Alex Thomson on the way down the Atlantic and then winning the next two at Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn, Armel Le Cleac'h won the first game in this final set... Advantage Banque Populaire VIII at the Equator, but they could be heading for a tie-break as they climb back up this final stretch of the Atlantic.

Entering the Doldrums, the skipper of Banque Populaire VIII decided to move slightly further east. In spite of the Canaries low-pressure system upsetting the usual weather patterns in the North Atlantic, to keep his opponent in check, the leader moved to the right hand side of the court.

Armel Le Cleac'h moved 55 miles to the east to get in front of Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) who was more lifted. However the Azores high is settling back in place on Monday evening, as the low in the middle of the ocean implodes at the Tropic of Cancer and slips towards the Caribbean. So there is no way through to the left of the court.

The way through using the Newfoundland lows is still blocked by the highs separating out before coming together again. They are going to have to wait until 7°N tonight for the breeze to pick up. The two leaders are on the same route with a separation from N to S of around 150 miles and in terms of speed alone, there is nothing to separate them. There are moments when Armel Le Cleac'h is faster with Alex Thomson still in the Doldrums...

Top ten ranking:

1. Armel Le Cleac'h, Banque Populaire VIII, 2903 nm to finish
2. Alex Thomson, Hugo Boss, 98 nm to leader
3. Jeremie Beyou, Maitre CoQ, 612
4. Jean-Pierre Dick, StMichel - Virbac, 1450
5. Yann Elies, Queguiner - Leucemie Espoir, 1514
6. Jean Le Cam, Finistere Mer Vent, 1515
7. Louis Burton, Bureau Vallee, 3604
8. Nandor Fa, Spirit of Hungary, 4207
9. Eric Bellion, COMMEUNSEULHOMME, 5035
10. Conrad Colman, Foresight Natural Energy, 5061

Calming Things Down In The Pacific
At the start of the 24th day of racing in the remote part of the South Pacific, IDEC SPORT has managed to slide under a low and is advancing in a NW'ly breeze blowing at around fifteen knots in calmer seas. While Francis Joyon and his men have slowed down , the pace is still good as they chase after the Jules Verne Trophy.

There has been a slight slow down today, which is a welcome break for the six men on IDEC SPORT, as they make their way towards the Horn, which is around 2000 miles ahead. Because of the weather uncertainties, Francis is unable to give an ETA for the third major cape, but for now he is 1185 miles ahead of the record set by Banque Populaire V.

"We're still feeling positive as we approach Cape Horn, which offers us a lot of hope, as we should be well within the record when we round it," he added as the trimaran continues through the fog and relatively mild weather in the South Pacific at 58°S.

Wight Vodka Best Yachting Bar
At right, the Royal Hong Kong YC bar
Wight Vodka Best Yachting Bar Voting on the best yachting bar for 2016 is now open.

Our past roster of winners is world class:

Peter Café 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, the Wight Vodka / Seahorse / Scuttlebutt Europe team has selected the following ten submissions based on the unique submissions sent in by readers. Videos, photos and more stories from each of these superb drinking establishments will be featured in the coming weeks.

Voting is open through Tuesday January 30, with the winner announced on February 1.

Place your vote!
1. Gladstone's Long Beach
2. Happy Island Bar, Union Island
3. Pewaukee Yacht Club
4. Rochester Yacht Club
5. Roger's Beach Bar, Hog Island, Grenada
6. Royal Bermuda Yacht Club
7. Royal Hamilton Amateur Dinghy Club
8. Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club
9. Sloop Tavern, Ballard, Wa, USA
10. Windward Mark at Bitter End YC

For those who've noted that no European bars are in the top ten this year... Technically the BVI's are British. Ditto with Bermuda which has two entries.

So.... three out of 10 if one counts the colonies... (four if one counts former colony Hong Kong)

The Brits simply choose to position some of their best yachtie bars in places where it never snows, where you can sail 12 months a year.

A profoundly sane and noble concept in your humble narrators' opinion.

A Windy Weekend In Miami
Miami, Florida: Rick DeVos wins event 1 of the Miami Winter Series! Competitors came to Miami for sunshine and fast racing around Biscayne Bay; Saturday was a sailor's delight, and Sunday a day to pack up early and enjoy Miami.

Sunday's cold front rolled in as expected. The 50 degree morning temperature didn't scare anyone away, but gusts into the 30's forced PRO Mattias Dahlstrom to call racing for the day. Teams were happy with the windy conditions on Saturday, "What's exciting about the M32 is that we sail several quick races in one day, if you mess up in one race you get the opportunity to re do it fifteen minutes later. The boats are exciting, very in the moment so you can't think about anything else, it's the ultimate therapy!" Pieter Taselaar (NY, NY)

Final results
Position - Team - Skipper - Points
1. REV, Rick DeVox, 5
2. Convexity, Donald Wilson, 5
3. Bliksem, Pieter Taselaar, 10
4. XS Energy, Ryan DeVos, 12
5. Liftoff, Malcolm Gefter, 18
6. Escape Velocity, Ron O'Hanley, 21
7. Bronco, Michael Dominguez, 22

Sometimes "At The Front" Of The Vendee Globe Race Is Actually Behind The Scenes
Harkenn The Vendee Globe race is an amazing spectacle and clearly an extreme experience. That the 2016-2017 version has been a true endurance test for the equipment, for the leaders approaching the finish line- indeed for the amazing skippers throughout the fleet is clear. Less well known is the challenge a race of more than two months duration poses to the team charged with keeping the competition safe and fair.

As we watched the goings on from the comfort of our computers, we started to wonder:
- Beyond the fantastic race tracking, who personally monitors the racers?
- How often does the Vendee Globe race office actually speak with each skipper? How does that work?
- What protocols are in motion when a skipper requests assistance?

Vendee Globe's Hubert Lemonnier has been kind enough to the give the Harken Facebook audience some inside information on his job as a race duty officer. As the fleet heads up the Atlantic to the finish, explore what a day in his life is all about.

*|YOUTUBE:[$vid=IlLLndqwK5w, $max_width=500, $title=N, $border=N, $trim_border=N, $ratings=N, $views=N]|*

What's Behind The Design Of Alex Thomson's Vendee Globe Racer Hugo Boss?
The 2016/7 Vendee Globe race will go down as one dominated by two very different sailors, Frenchman Armel Le Cleac'h and Briton Alex Thomson in two critically different yachts.

There is no doubt that the foil-borne Hugo Boss is very fast in perhaps a wider range of downwind conditions, and development of this foiling technology will be at the forefront of designers' minds as they work towards designs for the next monohull round the world races.

But what exactly are the key features of Thomson's black boat, and how does it work?

For the design of Hugo Boss, Thomson and his team chose the race-winning partnership of VPLP and Guillaume Verdier, who have all but cornered the market in new IMOCA 60 designs.

Like the five other new VPLP-Verdier designs, Hugo Boss is a semi-foiler, with giant and - frankly in her case - quite sinister-looking appendages protruding from either side that have been compared to 'Dali's moustache' in the French press.

James Boyd in Yachting World:

*|YOUTUBE:[$vid=fi-NwoQMMn0, $max_width=500, $title=N, $border=N, $trim_border=N, $ratings=N, $views=N]|*

'Misinformation' On AC Spending
"Post-truth politics" and mis- information has been given out on the island's spending for the America's Cup, according to Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development.

Dr Gibbons was responding yesterday to a statement from Jamahl Simmons, the Shadow Minister of Tourism, charging that the Government had committed "in excess of $100 million of taxpayer funds to support the event".

"This is an unfounded figure with no connection to reality," the minister said this afternoon, noting that 2014 projections had estimated a potential expenditure of $77 million.

However, the 2016/17 Budget book at present projects a spending of $39.6 million on the America's Cup from 2014 through March 31, 2017.

The figure includes both capital and operational spending.

"The bulk of this $39.6 million spending, $23.7 million, is on capital infrastructure, including preparation of the South Basin dock and Dockyard facilities which will benefit present and future generations of Bermudian," Dr Gibbons said.

"This amount represents the bulk of the capital infrastructure spending by the ACBDA required under the agreement with the ACEA.

"The remaining portion, $15.9 million of this $39.6 million, is current account, or operational spending, beginning in 2014 and projected through March 31. This includes $10 million of the $15 million in sponsorship payments to ACEA - money which must be spent in Bermuda under our agreement and is not merely a payment that leaves Bermuda with no residual value to the island." -- Jonathan Bell in The Royal Gazette

2017: What To Expect And When To Expect It
Oracle Team USA, SoftBank Team Japan, Artemis Racing and Land Rover BAR are already established in Bermuda. Groupama Team France and Emirates Team New Zealand will arrive in February.

January: The four teams already in Bermuda will probably be sailing their AC45X test boats on the Great Sound. They are allowed to train together when sailing these boats. Groupama Team France and Emirates Team New Zealand are stripping down their test boats to build their race boats with most of the components from the test boats.

February: The four teams in Bermuda will probably launch their race boats on 9 February, after taking their 28 day "blackout period." Team New Zealand and Team France will set up their bases in Bermuda and wait for their race boats to arrive.

February-April: The teams are not allowed to sail their race boats together. Team France and Team New Zealand will not have AC45X test boats so they will need to test and train on their own. Oracle, Artemis, BAR and Team Japan have test boats to sail against their race boats, but with only eight sailors, Team Japan's sailing team is too small for that - they will probably only sail their race boat. Artemis only lists 11 men on their "sailing team" but the 11 includes helmsmen Francesco Bruni and Paul Goodison. They also have Loïc Peyron and and Stu Bettany listed in other departments, so they could put two boats on the water. BAR list 13 sailors including backup helmsman Leigh McMillan, so they will be able to sail both "T3" and their race boat if they choose. Oracle lists the biggest sailing team with 14. They will be able to sail two boats if they choose. Don't underestimate the logistical challenge of putting two boats on the water - we may see the teams mostly sailing only their race boat.

May: Racing starts on 26 May with all six teams in the double round robin AC Qualifiers. Each team will race twice on at least two days, and only two substitutions are allowed between races. Remember that BAR starts with two points and Oracle has one, their reward for coming in first and second in the AC World Series. At the end of the Qualifiers, one challenger is eliminated. Oracle goes on to the AC Match while the four remaining challengers sail in the Challenger Playoffs to decide who will sail against Oracle in the AC Match.

June: The semi-finals and finals of the Challenger Playoffs run from 4-12 June. Superyachts, J Class and Youth America's Cup racing will begin on 12 June. The big showdown, the America's Cup Match, will be sailed on two successive weekends beginning 17 June. By Sunday 25 June we may have our winner but it might take until 27 June for one team to score the seven points needed to take the Cup.

Later in 2017: Five of the six teams want to start up the AC World Series for a 2019 America's Cup cycle. There could be AC World Series events in Bermuda later in the Summer and another ACWS event in Chicago later in the year. If Team New Zealand wins, all bets are off - the Kiwis have other plans. -- Jack Griffin, Cup Experience News

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 David Evans: In respect of Euan Ross' letter published on 4th January.
I enjoyed and endorse Euan's letter, but I'd like to correct him on one point, he wrote......
"However, in a twist to that interlude, with renaissance of the smaller 'ton' class boats under IRC, the better examples from the final phase of the IOR have now received expensive underbody surgery to iron out bumps and hollows."

As someone who actively campaigns a 1978 half-tonner in the UK and Europe, the one thing that is not changed on these boats is the hull shape, including all the bumps bustles and Davidson creases. In Europe this is forbidden if you wish to compete in the Classic Half Ton Championships. The rigs have changed, the keels and rudders may have also, some have even given then TP52 type deck layouts, but the one thing that must remain as it was originally is the hull shape, and because of that we get jolly good racing too!

Some boats preferring different conditions, this of course is no surprise, as some were designed for the Adriatic and the calms of the Baltic, whereas others were designed for bashing upwind in the lumpy old North Sea.

Which of course means, as they say, every old dog has his day. So no matter what design you have you stand a chance if the weather suits!

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MAGNUM 4 The 2016 Ker 40+ is now available.

A new inshore and offshore sail inventory from North, a GP high modulus Southern Spars rig, Sailmon and B&G instrumentation, upgraded Lewmar winch package, upgraded foil package, ready made container and crew....... the list goes on!

Probably the highest Spec'd Ker 40+ on the circuit today and with some offshore/coastal capabilities if you wish.

Just so much potential with this boat, but unfortunate circumstances force sale.


Sam Pearson - Ancasta Race Boats
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The Last Word
Enjoy every sandwich. -- Warren Zevon

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