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 email@example.com
Critical Twelve Hours
The next 12 hours could prove crucial to the outcome of the 2016-17 Vendee Globe, according to British sailing star Ian Walker. Walker, the reigning champion of the Volvo Ocean Race, has been glued to his computer following the exploits of fellow countryman Alex Thomson, currently locked in an epic battle for first place with Frenchman Armel Le Cleac'h.
As the solo non-stop round the world race enters its final 3,000 nautical miles Le Cleac'h's Banque Populaire VIII leads Thomson's Hugo Boss by just 88 miles. After slowing to just two knots yesterday in the depths of the Doldrums, Le Cleac'h was this afternoon back up to speed making 14 knots just prior to the 1400 UTC position report. The Breton skipper lost more than 100 miles to Thomson in the Doldrums, allowing the Brit to get to within 50 miles of his position, but this afternoon he had started to pull away again with Thomson only making nine knots.
With the pair apparently breaking free of the grasp of the Doldrums today, Walker, who was recently made an MBE for services to sailing, said what happens in the coming few hours could prove critical in the sprint to the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne, France. "Alex has had a great few days, there's no denying that," Walker told the Vendee Globe Live show today. "He's had a much better passage through the Doldrums and if he can stay within 100 miles of Armel then he's within half a day's sailing, and there's still a long way to go. The next six or twelve hours is quite important because if Alex isn't quite out of the Doldrums and Armel is able to double his lead, and it was just a stretching of the elastic that we've just seen, then that won't be good news for Alex. But while Alex will make a few losses now I don't think he should haemorrhage too many miles before they're back on an even keel."
While admitting Le Cleac'h is the favourite to win, Walker said there were plenty of variables which could effect the overall outcome of this eighth edition of the Vendee Globe. The double Olympic silver medallist added: "What we don't know is what state both their boats are in - do they have all their sails still available, what damage do they have? It looks like Alex will be on starboard tack for most of the trip home and we saw earlier in the race he had excellent boat speed against the other competitors, but we don't know how much Armel has been holding back. What we do know is that we've got a fantastic race on our hands."
Top ten ranking:
1. Armel Le Cleac'h, Banque Populaire VIII, 2662 nm to finish
2. Alex Thomson, Hugo Boss, 91 nm to leader
3. Jeremie Beyou, Maitre CoQ, 578
4. Jean-Pierre Dick, StMichel - Virbac, 1292
5. Jean Le Cam, Finistere Mer Vent, 1464
6. Yann Elies, Queguiner - Leucemie Espoir, 1465
7. Louis Burton, Bureau Vallee, 2582
8. Nandor Fa, Spirit of Hungary, 4167
9. Eric Bellion, COMMEUNSEULHOMME, 4811
10. Conrad Colman, Foresight Natural Energy, 4892
Twenty Years Ago
Violent winds in excess of 80 knots had hit the race leaders, including Roufs aboard Groupe LG 2, who was then in second place in the third Vendee Globe, behind Christophe Auguin. "The waves are not mere waves, they are the Alps," Roufs had previously told the Race Directors. Isabelle Autissier was a hundred or so miles from the Canadian and had been in regular contact with him. When there was no news, she informed the Directors of her worries.
Fifteen boats took part in the third Vendee Globe, plus Raphael Dinelli on Algimouss, who had not officially qualified. This edition was marred by a lot of damage with boats capsizing. The fleet encountered hellish conditions on Christmas Day, when Dinelli capsized in the Indian Ocean and lost his mast. He remained on the upturned hull of his boat for 36 hours until Pete Goss sailed upwind in nasty conditions to pick him up. On 5th January, Thierry Dubois and Tony Bullimore capsized and would only be rescued four days later by the Adelaide frigate...
Isabelle Autissier on PRB was not far from Gerry Roufs, 43, and had been in contact with him. PRB capsized three times. In his final message, Rofs talked about the hellish sea state. But then, there were no more messages. On 7th January, his beacon stopped emitting. The upturned hull Groupe LG 2 was spotted on 16th July 1997 and formally identified on 29th August 1998 off Chile. Parts of the boat washed up on Atalaya Island off the south of Chile.
It's A Record! Exceptional Take Up For 47th Rolex Fastnet Race
Entry into the Royal Ocean Racing Club's flagship event, the Rolex Fastnet Race surpassed expectation today in record-breaking time. The 340-boat limit was reached in just 4 minutes and 24 seconds setting a new record.
Within the first minute of the REMUS* online entry system opening at midday today (Monday 9 January), the London and Cowes-based organising club had received a massive 222 entries. The frenetic trend continued for the next hour and into the afternoon, with entries streaming in from all around the world. Within an hour, nearly 400 boats had signed up for the biennial 603-nautical miler, which has been an established fixture on the ocean racing circuit since 1925.
Nick Elliott, RORC Racing explains his reaction to the phenomenal demand to enter this historic race:
"The take-up of entries for the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race has been incredible. We expected to better the time it took to reach the limit in the last race of 24 minutes, but this is amazing. It just exemplifies how sought after the places in the race are and confirms that it is a real sporting institution; one which every sailor wants to tick off their personal 'bucket list'.
The First 40, Lancelot II was the first boat to enter the race, signing up just 12 seconds after the online entry system opened. The next four boats entered shortly after: Arthur Logic, Pelgrim, Jolly Jack Tar and Moana. Entries from 28 different nations have signed up and include; Great Britain, France (who have dominated the event in the recent years), Netherlands, Germany and USA, with an entry from Korea as well as from Australia and New Zealand. The race has attracted the usual diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classics to some of the world's fastest racing machines - and everything in between, racing in IRC or selected offshore classes such as IMOCA60, VOR65, Class40 and MOCRA Multihull.
The 47th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club will start in the Solent from Cowes, Isle of Wight, on Sunday 6th August, finishing in Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock, the symbol of the race located off the southern coast of Ireland.
* Kudos to the REMUS system developer Stefan Kunstmann
Wight Vodka Best Yachting Bar
The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is one of the oldest Royal Clubs in the world and holds some of the richest maritime history of the Atlantic. RBYC was established on November 1, 1844 by a party of thirty gentlemen, consisting of British Army officers and local Bermudian Sailors who realized there was a need for a club. During a picnic, under a calabash tree in Tom Moore's Jungle (Hamilton Parish), these gentlemen discussed the mission and purpose of creating an institution dedicated to sailing - Bermuda's way of life.
Two years later in 1846, the Royal Charter was acquired making the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club the 20th royal yacht club in the world.
There are two bars at RBYC. The one you see in all the photos of awards ceremonies, particularly the Gold Cup... and a lovely cedar and brass room just inside. Perfect for rainy or cold days or when the main bar is overrun with yachties. It's a timeless space, unchanged for decades. Just perfect.
Here's a vintage cocktail to try while you consider your vote... and one that can be served hot!
The Vodka Sling
2 Jiggers - Wight Vodka
1 Teaspoon - Sugar
1 Glass - Soda Water
1 Dash Nutmeg
Combine sugar and vodka then fill the rest of the glass with soda water. If served hot, add a whole nutmeg
OK Sailors Farewell Bill Tyler At Drummoyne Sailing Club
OK Dinghy sailors and Drummoyne Sailing Club (DSC) members today farewelled Bill Tyler, a 45-year stalwart of the class, who died from multiple myeloma on December 6 after a two year battle with the disease.
With the OK National Championship being hosted by the Sydney Club, the timing was right for those who wanted to bid farewell to their mate this morning shortly after 11am with a sail past.
Victorian sailor Andre Blasse, a class stalwart himself, organised his fellow sailors on the bay in front of the Club to sail past to honour their mate.
"Bill spent so much of his life with the OK Dinghy class," DSC Commodore, Grant Wakefield remembered this morning. "He was responsible for getting me and many others into the OK."
Bill was just the sixth person to be inducted into the International OK Dinghy Hall of Fame. He sailed in the OK Dinghy regularly and was involved with the administration of the class at state, national and international level.
Such was the 76 year-old's dedication, he organised and managed the 2006 OK Dinghy World Championship at Belmont on the NSW Central Coast and was recognised with the prestigious Services to Yachting Award at the 2007 Australian Yachting Awards.
"He was excited that the Club (DSC) was hosting the OK Nationals - something we hadn't done since 1994 - and he fought hard to come and race (his sail number was AUS692), but it wasn't to be," said Wakefield, who described the dedicated man as "uncompromising, but with a heart of gold.
"He had a lifetime commitment to the class, which meant he and wife Jan made lifelong friends around the world," Wakefield ended.
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Hall Spars and Rigging, a premiere builder of high-performance spars and rigging since its founding in 1980, has closed its US facility until further notice. While Hall facilities in New Zealand and Holland are open and in full operation, Hall US is continuing efforts to recapitalize the company. This follows a management change where Tom Rossi had been named President and CEO of the company effective June 27, 2016. Rossi, who is responsible for all Hall operations in the US, Holland and New Zealand, had succeeded company founder Eric Hall who remained as Company Chairman.
R&W Rope acquired Rigging Solutions LLC of Dartmouth, Mass.
Joe Mello, the founder and former owner of Rigging Solutions, joined R&W Rope-Rigging Solutions and brings more 40 years of rigging experience. Before he launched his own business, Mello was the head rigger for Mystic Seaport in the 1970s, and later for Concordia Boatyard in the 1980s.
R&W Rope-Rigging Solutions also said it welcomes Corey Butlin, former head rigger at Newport, R.I.-based Hall Spars & Rigging. Butlin brings 23 years of rigging design, fabrication, sales and consulting experience.
His past clients range from private yacht owners to boatbuilders and marine architects.
Hyde Sails Extends Partnership with Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
We are pleased to announce Hyde Sails is returning for the fifth consecutive edition as Official Sail Partner of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
As one of the world's largest volume sail producers, Hyde is ideally placed to fulfil the demanding needs of the Clipper 2017-18 Race.
To handle the varied conditions on the 40,000 nautical mile global race, each of the twelve Clipper 70 yachts carry a sail wardrobe of eleven different sails; including a Mainsail, Staysail, Windseeker, Yankee 1, 2 and 3, as well as a heavy, medium and lightweight spinnaker. In total, the combined sail area across the entire fleet is 197, 616ft².
UK-based Hyde Sails is one of the largest volume sailmakers worldwide, and the global service and sales support is backed up by over 50 years of expertise in high performance sail technology, design and production.
Sunsail have been the Official Charter Sailing Partner of Cowes Week since 2015, and due to the success of the partnership the relationship has been extended for a further five years.
Sunsail's matched fleet of 30 Sunsail Match First 40s will be available to both private individuals and businesses from Sunsail's regatta base in Cowes Yacht Haven on the Isle of Wight, which includes a dedicated hospitality area for its clients.
Scott Farquharson, General Manager at Sunsai: "Not only is Sunsail continuing its commitment to Cowes Week in 2017, but also to other destinations with the introduction of two new flotillas to its extensive portfolio - a bespoke rum tasting flotilla in the British Virgin Islands, and a new flotilla route at its Palma base in Mallorca."
This year's Cowes Week takes place between July 29 and August 5.
Construction for the 2017 Miami International Boat Show began on Dec. 1 and is on its way to building a record-breaking show. MIBS will run from Feb. 16-20, 2017 at the Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin at Key Biscayne.
The show is prepared to host its expected 100,000 or more attendees in mid-February. Many improvements have been made to this year's show to handle an even larger capacity of attendance.
Every year, MIBS crews build 600,000 square feet of clear span tents for the show. Three of the six large tent shells are already up and crews began building the marina over a week ago. The head dock, which is 90 feet short of a third of a mile, has been installed.
The 63rd London Boat Show takes place from 6-15 January with 323 exhibitors signed up, an increase of 25 on last year.
The 2017 show includes 47 new exhibitors including AJS Technical Services (UK), Alpine Elements, Urban Truant, Westaway Sails and Westwater Yacht Sales.
Among the returning exhibitors will be the RYA, Jeckell & Son, Inland Waterways Association, Navigators & General and Motorboat & Yachting, all of which have exhibited at every London Boat Show since its inception.
This edition will see the tenth anniversary of the Careers, Skills and Education Week offering visiting students the chance to discover and explore the marine industry's career options and opportunities.
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* From Euan Ross: With regard to David Evans letter, I stand corrected! Looking at the ¼ and ½ Ton class rules, which of course I should have done before including that throw-away line, I see that they mandate 1996 and 1994 hull dates respectively. I guess this cut-off favours the sought-after 'end-game' boats which didn't have creases and bumps. With new foils, much labour-of-love and beautiful detailing, these fantastic little ships continue to look contemporary, even chocked-up beside the super-cool Fast 40s on the hard at Cowes and the Hamble. The years are flying by and indeed the specific boats I was thinking of were all foamed and faired in the last century. Contrite, but still game, maybe I can address a softer target?
The ton-cup revival is a great thing, but perhaps some unfortunate trade-offs have been made, particularly with the little boats? The top ¼ Tonners now reflect the sailing modes of an era before boats like 'Robber' and '45 Degrees South' showcased light-displacement offshore. The new fleet is configured for windward-leeward courses and this favours 'lead-mines' sailed five- or six-up. Today, these parameters deliver spectacular images of once-lively ¼ tonners cartwheeling downwind and mining the ocean. The optimised boats provide close racing and I can see how they have evolved, but if I owned a ¼ Tonner today I'd miss surfing offshore and the occasional white-knuckle rides we used to enjoy in the Dark Ages - planing downwind in flat water.
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The Last Word
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