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

Wight Vodka Best Yachting Bar Competition
The Top Ten have been announced... and now it's time to vote for the best of 2016.

Vote here:

Gavin Reid Named Boats.Com YJA Yachtsman Of The Year
Photo by Ingrid Abery. Click on image to enlarge.

YJA Gavin Reid, 28, an amateur sailor who was born profoundly deaf, has beaten "his heroes", Giles Scott, the Rio 2016 Gold Medalist, and Brian Thompson, Round the Island Race Record Holder, to be honoured as the 2016 YJA Yachtsman of the Year.

The award recognised Gavin's heroic act of seamanship whilst competing as a crew member in the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race, when he came to the mid-ocean rescue of a sailor found trapped at the top of the mast on another yacht, which was not competing in the Clipper Race.

On January 5, 2016, Gavin was racing from Sydney to the Whitsundays with his team aboard the yacht Mission Performance in Race 6 of the 14-stage, eleven month long Clipper Race series, when an SOS was picked up off the New South Wales coast of Australia from a non-Clipper Race yacht, returning from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race which had a crewman stuck at the top of the mast.

The Mission Performance yacht was nearest to the stricken vessel and Gavin, who uses hearing aids in both ears, volunteered to swim between the two yachts, as conditions prevented transferring alongside, where he found four other crew onboard, all incapacitated and unable to help their crewmate who had been tangled in halyards at the top of the mast for several hours.

Gavin had become experienced in mast work during the Clipper Race and used the one remaining staysail halyard to hoist himself two thirds of the way up the swinging mast, then climbed the rest of the way hand-over-hand to reach the crewman, untangle the lines, and help to lower him down safely.

Gavin's bravery has already been recognised by the Henri Lloyd Seamanship award at the Clipper Race Finish in London last summer, the RORC (Royal Ocean Racing Club) Outstanding Seamanship Award, and he was also recognised at the 2016 Australian Sailing Awards.

Straight On And Out Of The Southern Ocean?
IDEC SPORT is continuing to extend her lead and clock up the miles in the Pacific. Her crew managed to overcome the hurdles, thanks to a carefully chosen route and some impressive acceleration. Approaching Cape Horn, 750 miles ahead of the boat this afternoon, the pace has stepped up on the red and grey maxi-trimaran , which is now heading due east on the starboard tack. Straight on at more than thirty knots towards the exit from the Southern Ocean. However, while the forecasts ahead now look clearer, there is still some doubt about the best route to take to get to the next ocean at the tip of Tierra del Fuego, which will mark a moment of relief for Francis Joyon, Alex Pella, Sebastien Audigane, Clement Surtel, Gwenole Gahinet and Bernard Stamm.

On the final stretch to the third and final major cape in their round the world voyage, the six men have the choice of two routes, as Francis Joyon explains, "We can stay relatively a long way south, which is quicker, but risky with possible calms, or the northerly route, which means we would have wind for longer, but which is a greater distance, forcing us to go the long way around."

Seahorse How else to describe Botin's new Melges 40 canting-keel one-design? North Sails and Southern Spars have been central to the launch of a potential market disrupter.

When a new high-performance boat comes on the market the pressure is on to meet the expectations of everyone involved in the project: the designer, builder, class promoters, industry providers, media and - most importantly - potential owners and crews. The higher the performance is, the greater the expectations and lower the acceptable margins for error. New boats of this genre must be fast out of the box with little or no lead time before they can start competing. Everyone wants one, so the first boat built and launched is critical - it must start to deliver on the pre-launch hype right away if a successful new class is to follow.

The new Botin-designed Melges 40 is a perfect example of such a high-profile new design, with the global reputation of Melges on the line. Designer Marcelino Botin has said, 'Melges is a sailing legend, and this was an opportunity for us to design something very new and different. The design complements the Melges brand, and upholds their top-quality ideals. We proposed a design that adopts best practice and introduces new concepts. The boat creates a new 40ft performance benchmark.'

When Whales Meet Sails
This humpback whale calf was spotted by researchers in the leeward waters off Maui. The ship-struck animal was a case in which researchers didn’t know the type of vessel involved." Photo credit: Ed Lyman/ NOAA MMHSRP. Click on image to enlarge.

Whales meet sails "Currently the database for marine mammal strikes is very sparse. We are requesting sailors and boaters help to submit information on current and past incidents, however long ago that may be. By giving a location, date, identification if possible, and any other relevant information you can help scientists better understand where marine mammals are at risk for strikes, and help fellow boaters know where they are likely to come across marine mammals. This is the best thing we can do in our sport to protect these brilliant creatures." - Damian Foxall, veteran Volvo Ocean Race sailor and Recreation Education Manager at the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

For information on how to report

In May 2012, CAMPER helmsman Roberto 'Chuny' Bermudez found himself nearly face to face with a whale in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. In a pretty extraordinary video from a rainy day on the Miami to Lisbon leg of the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race, you see Bermudez swing the boat, which had been hurtling through the ocean at over 20 knots, into the wind and just narrowly avoid what would have been a catastrophic collision with a marine mammal.

"It would have been a bad day for both the whale and for us," said Media Crew Member Hamish Hooper afterwards. "With reflexes like a cat [Bermudez] narrowly missed what would have been the equivalent of a runaway freight train colliding with a truck."

Another video dated May 2016 from the Canadian Ocean Racing team highlights what happens when a sailing vessel collides at night. "We were doing 15-20 knots and there was this loud smack," says a crew member into the camera. "Everyone came on deck because we weren't sure what happened, and then afterwards we saw the whale surface." For Canadian Ocean Racing and their IMOCA Open 60 O Canada, the incident left them without a starboard rudder. For the whale, its fate remains unknown, but it's assumed by some scientists that a collision with a large enough vessel going over 10 knots can easily be considered a lethal encounter.

Full report:

Quantum J/70 Winter Series
Tampa, Florida, USA: Forty-eight J/70 teams traveled to Davis Island Yacht Club in Tampa, Florida for the middle weekend of the 2016-2017 Quantum J/70 Winter Series. Conditions ranged from wet and wild on Saturday (winds up to 28 knots) to sunny and cool on Sunday (winds 10-18 knots). Bruno Pasquinelli's Stampede reveled in the breeze, racking up four consecutive bullets and a second to allow them to sit out the sixth and final race. Thom Bowen's Reach Around, who won the first weekend of the Series in December, took second place with 13 points. Allan Terhune's Dazzler edged out Darby Smith's Africa for third place (Terhune with 16 points to Smith's 17). The 24-boat Corinthian division was topped by Andrew Fisher's Button Fly.

Racing concludes at Davis Island Yacht Club on February 4-5. Photos are available on the J/70 Class Facebook page, and complete results may be found at

Dame Ellen Macarthur Announces Round Britain Project
Today, Dame Ellen MacArthur announced today at the London Boat Show, a very special project that will see 100 young people in recovery from cancer taking part in an extraordinary challenge - sailing around Britain in a national relay, celebrating achievement and realising potential.

Round Britain 2017 is being run by the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, a national charity which takes young people aged between eight and 24 from across the UK on sailing and other water-based adventures to help them rebuild their confidence after cancer treatment.

In order to help more young people in recovery from cancer in the long term, the voyage aims to increase national awareness by visiting towns and cities around the UK during the four-month endeavour. Building new skills and forging long-lasting friendships, her crew will also visit cancer treatment centres meeting people still in recovery and discussing possibilities after treatment.

Dame Ellen MacArthur said: "Round Britain is about a lot more than sailing - it is about rebuilding the confidence, self-belief and independence of those involved - bringing back in to focus positive options which have been unimaginable during treatment".

Centenarian Couta Takes Out Gant Portsea Cup
Photo by Bob Fowler. Click on image for photo gallery.

Couda Boat Mornington, Victoria, Australia: The man responsible for the resurrection of the vintage car of the sailing world, the Couta Boats, raced his own 100 year-old Muriel to a handicap win in Saturday's 35th Gant Portsea Cup hosted by the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club.

Division 1 handicap and heritage honours went to Tim Phillips' Centenarian Muriel and Rhys Tucker's Morning Star (built 1935) top scored in division 2, while Malcolm Hart's Jocelyn set the quickest time around the course.

Light and fickle eight knot easterly breezes off Portsea's Quarantine Station on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula separated the 45-strong fleet early on and made for leisurely and sometimes frustrating progress, which in turn set up a second weather challenge - an outgoing tide that cost some the chance to record a finish time.

"We were racing all the other competitors but the greatest competitor was the tide," Phillips said. "The Sydney boys reckon it's like sailing in a river entrance, and they are probably right."

The laid triangle course race of 7 nautical miles is the event of the year for the popular Couta Boat class. It's the day most owners prepare methodically for and bring their best crew combinations to, from Olympic gold medallists, around-the-world yachties and Sydney Hobart winners to everyday sailors.

Phillips is only the third owner of Muriel, his custodianship spanning 30 years, and before him Andy Johansen's ownership stretched a lifetime - 65 years.

For The Record
The WSSR Council announces the establishment of a new World Record:

Record: Around Isle of Wight; 40 foot Singlehanded
Yacht: "Pixel Flyer" Monohull Class 40
Name: Alex Alley. GBR
Date:.2nd January 2017
Start time: 05;33;27
Finish time: 11;53;59
Elapsed time: 6 hours 20 minutes and 32 seconds
Distance: 50 NM
Average speed: 7.9 kts

Comments: Initial WSSR World Record for the 40 ft Singlehanded category on the Isle of Wight course.

John Reed
Secretary to the WSSR Council

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 Paolo Massarini & Alessandro Nazareth, ORC:

In reply to John Burnie's letter published in Scuttlebutt Europe on 6 January 2017:

It is quite disappointing sometimes - and this is recently happening more and more frequently - to read letters and articles where accusations and criticisms are made without any support based on facts.

We would like to thank John for giving us credit for all the efforts we put in to running the ORC Super Yacht Rule, yet we are puzzled in reading his rather generic accusations on the way ORC is treating difficult matters such as those that relate to the long term history of the Swan Class. We find his accusations extremely disappointing and not reflecting the opinion of the huge majority of the teams present in Porto Cervo.

The ratings for Nautor Swans were managed exclusively by the RORC Rating Office since the very beginning of their class events, and only at the end of 2015 was the decision made to switch to ORC. With this ORC inherited the difficult responsibility of managing the data for a large and diverse fleet that was not "checked" nor measured. ORC technicians made an enormous effort over nearly 6 months to build our own database, often having to overcome the difficulties of receiving different and sometimes contradictory information coming from various sources for the same boat type.

That is why ORC decided to use ORC Club certificates, just to make the transition between the old system and the new system as smooth as possible.

In addition, ORC offered full event assistance, including presence on site, to allow for meetings and explanations given to the competitors directly - these have been key factors in the success of our mission to deliver the highest possible service to the competitors along with our commitment to Nautor, Rolex and YCCS.

Another important part of this assistance is providing measurement checks before and during the event, and when necessary making corrections to certificates if there are discrepancies found. This helps ensure integrity with the rules and gives confidence that the ratings are fair and correct.

Of course we cannot make everybody happy, this is normal in any competition: the losers are never happy, and they always look for reasons outside their own team to explain the results. Blaming the rating and the handicap system is the easiest solution, especially one that may be new to them.

We honestly believe we are in very good shape with accuracy, fairness and transparency with this system, which is why our customer base is growing every year. Yet we are also open to suggestions for improvement. As we like to describe our work and attitude: the ORC is here to help, support clarify and serve, task that never ends since the learning curve also never ends.

* From Alistair Skinner:

I completely agree with Euan Ross. Quarter Tonners were designed under the IOR, the International OFFSHORE Rule. They weren't designed for trogging up hill and down dale (windward leewards) they were designed as proper little yachts. I know, we have two, a Thomas Bolero and a Dubois 1-off (Design 55, 5 before Police Car). They are good on lots of points of sail and are completely original and NO I wont be changing them although the idea of a bowsprit does appeal.

One of my fondest memories is being spat out of the Forth on an East Coast Week Feeder Race back in 1999 with waves 2-3m high and the bow wave starting in line with the mast as we were sometimes just flung down the waves. (True windspeed on the way to the start was gusting 38kts) After 2 hours of this I turned to my mainsheet man "Big Jim"and said "This is better than sex!" He responded with "Yeah, and it lasts longer Al". If you've sailed one of these puppies in a blow you will know what we meant.

Only reason for Windward/Leewards I can see is it make the race officer's work easier if there is a wind shift. Does anyone actually ask the sailors what we want?

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The Last Word
Sentimental irony is a dog that bays at the moonn while pissing on graves. -- Karl Kraus

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