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
Le Cleac'h Less Than 1000 Miles, Thomson Closes To 71 Miles
The race to the Vendee Globe finish line today became an all-out, neck-and-neck sprint as the leading pair's speedos rocketed into the 20s.
After several days of slow progress north in light winds, Armel Le Cleac'h and Alex Thomson were today blasting towards the home straight of the solo round the world race in winds of up to 30 knots.
At the 1400 UTC position update British skipper Thomson, who led the race through most of its early stages, had a narrow speed advantage as he hurtled north on Hugo Boss at 24 knots. French skipper Le Cleac'h, who has topped the rankings since December 2, was more than two knots slower as he closed in on the Azores. With the ETA in Les Sables currently Thursday, the Vendee Globe is shaping up to go right down to the wire.
Thomson is competing in the Vendee Globe for the fourth time and is aiming to become the first Briton ever to win the race in its 27-year history. If he can continue to eat into Le Cleac'h's lead there is a chance he could realise his goal. Le Cleac'h, meanwhile, is hell-bent on ensuring he scores his first ever Vendee Globe win after posting runner's-up finishes in the past two editions.
The anticyclone currently blocking the duo's path to Les Sables is moving towards the English Channel and in another 36 hours the pair will be able to point their bows towards the finish line for an upwind drag race to glory.
Top ten ranking:
1. Armel Le Cleac'h, Banque Populaire VIII, 998 nm to finish
2. Alex Thomson, Hugo Boss, 71 nm to leader
3. Jeremie Beyou, Maitre CoQ, 772
4. Jean-Pierre Dick, StMichel - Virbac, 1356
5. Yann Elies, Queguiner - Leucemie Espoir, 1638
6. Jean Le Cam, Finistere Mer Vent, 1652
7. Louis Burton, Bureau Vallee, 2840
8. Nandor Fa, Spirit of Hungary, 4351
9. Eric Bellion, COMMEUNSEULHOMME, 4894
10. Conrad Colman, Foresight Natural Energy, 5037
30th Anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week Opens Monday
The 30th anniversary Quantum Key West Race Week begins tomorrow with a weather forecast calling for winds of 15 to 20 knots with gusts possibly as high as 25 knots and air temperatures in the mid-70s - conditions welcomed by every sailor in this idyllic setting celebrating a milestone anniversary.
Old acquaintances and new friendships will be joined at the 30th anniversary regatta this week as a fleet of 100 boats will be racing in nine classes on three racing circles. The fleet includes two of the past three Boat of the Week winners - Carlo Alberini's Calvi Network of Italy (2015) and Tim Healy's New England Ropes of Rhode Island (2014). Both boats are entrants in the J/70 Class, the largest class in the fleet with 42 boats entered.
The nine boats in the J/111 Class also stand to be very competitive. Peter Wagner's Skeleton Key of California pulled out the class win last year and also finished runner-up in the World Championship.
The class with the most professional sailors, however, is the TP52, which kicks off the 2017 52 Super Series here in Key West. The fleet is led by 2016 series champion Quantum Racing, featuring owner/driver Doug DeVos on the helm. Quantum Racing was the dominant boat in the class last year, but this year figures to be much more difficult.
The daily schedule calls for up to three races per day for some classes, with the warning signal for Race 1 scheduled for 1100 hours tomorrow Monday, Jan. 16. Evening debriefs, panel discussions and prize-giving ceremonies are also planned throughout the week.
Two events in one weekend, 18 nations represented and 280 sailors racing in Monaco - the Yacht Club de Monaco hit the ground running for the start of 2017, gathering the best one-designs who have set up their winter base in the Principality. Proof was there in the presence of Brazilians, Russians and other North European teams who took full advantage of the venue to train before this weekend's regattas.
"At a time when weather conditions are difficult all over Europe, it's good to be able to race at the highest level in a steady breeze beneath sunny skies in Monaco," commented Nino Schmueli, World Sailing Instructor and PRO for the Olympic Games.
For the eighth year in a row, 64 young competitors descended on the Principality to compete in the Monaco Optimist Team Race, an original format organised by the YCM with the support of FxPro, Eventica, Fon and clothing supplier Slam.
It was a full house for the Nordics with newcomers, the Bodensee Yacht Club Ueberlingen in Germany, dethroning Swiss title holders, Societe Nautique de Geneve.
The all new Monegasque team, comprising Andrea Tortella, Logan Viciana, Luca Frederiksen and Mathieu Choquet, most of whom were making their match race debut, finished 11th, just behind three-time winners of this event, the Gstaad Yacht Club.
For the three one-design classes competing in the first Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series regatta of 2017, the Monegasques were up there with the best.
In the ultra-dynamic all-carbon M32 catamarans, the YCM's Guido Miani (Team Neverland) won the event for the second time, one point ahead of the specialist and driving force behind this class, Riccardo Simoneschi (Italia Sailing Team).
In the J/70s the 40+ participants from 11 countries relished the steady northerly and slight chop that results. For many top sailors, Monaco's winter circuit, with monthly regattas from October to March, is not to be missed as preparation for the big June-August meetings (European and World Championships). YCM teams clinched the top two spots: Stefano Roberti, European Vice-Champion with two race wins proved how at ease he is in this class, but it was Ludovico Fassitelli's (Junda) consistency in the front that pipped his rival to the post. Swiss Alain Stettler (Enjoy) completed the podium in 3rd.
In the Melges 20, Youry Morozov's Pirogovo Sailing totally dominated ahead of compatriot
Final ranking for the Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series:
J/70 (4 races)
1. Ludovico Fassitelli (Junda-Banca del Sempione), MON, 17 points
2. Stefano Roberti (Piccinina), MON, 21
3. Alain Stettler (Enjoy), SUI, 22
Melges 20 (5 races)
1. Youry Morozov (Pirogovo Sailing), RUS, 10
2. Vladimir Prozikhin (Nika), RUS, 12
3. Alexander Novoselov (Victor), RUS, 23
M32 (7 races)
1. Guido Miano (Team Neverland), MON, 13
2. Riccardo Simoneschi (Italia Sailing Team), ITA, 14
3. Lovisa Karlson (Cape Crown Viking), SWE, 18
Full results: www.ycm.org
The New Dongfeng Race Team Boat
Click on image to enlarge.
But it's not all about the looks. The boat has been completely overhauled, with over 500 items being upgraded or added in a project worth around €1 million per boat.
It means that the sailors will have new electronics, new sails, new deck gear and much more, as they embark on what promises to be one of the most extreme Volvo Ocean Races in memory.
"After months of hibernating behind closed doors at the Boatyard in Lisbon, we have finally received our new boat, and it looks incredible," said Graham Tourell, Dongfeng Race Team boat captain.
"The boat is due to launch next Tuesday after the rig has been stepped, and then we have a commissioning process which needs to be undertaken to ensure all of the systems are working and are all calibrated, so that when Charles Caudrelier and the sailing team arrive, they can hit the ground running with their training program." -- Jonno Turner
The club has held a LOT of world class events... including the J24 Worlds on two occasions, 1995 and 2012. It was at the 1995 Worlds that I met Paul Henderson in person for the first time, shared a drink or two and talked about Paul's vision for the first IYRU website.
An historical document about racing there and club members who've raced around the world is here: www.rochesteryc.com/Files/Regatts.pdf
The history of racing there goes back to the 1920s: www.rochesteryc.com/racing-history
You can't hold that many races without a world class bar, and the Rochester YC's Burgee Bar on the Genessee River is damn near perfect (perfect being free drinks for your humble narrator and his closest 100 friends...)
Voting is open through January 30th with the winner announced on February 1.
Vote here: scuttlebutteurope.com/sailors-bars
There is nothing more exhilarating in offshore sailing than powerreaching - the point of sail we dream about that makes the other legs of a tough race worth the pain... High speeds, spray and that visceral thrill we get knowing a boat is being pushed to its limits as the miles are speedily devoured.
A drawback on this point of sail, however, is the heeling and imbalance that can happen when there's either too much force on the sailplan from the masthead Code 0 (MH0) or even the fractional Code 0 (FR0), resulting in costly sometimes brutal course deviations to hold on to these sails. Yet the speed and power are hard to give up, even with the extra miles covered - while constantly recalculating the VMG trade-offs against a lower heading.
Often the only way to stay high enough to stay on course is to reduce the power and heeling moment by dousing the larger sails and shifting down to smaller headsails. But then there is a significant loss of power and speed, with more of the mainsail needed to maintain drive force. Using more main means shifting the load balance aft, which in turn results in more helm pressure to stay on track. The more main used, the more weather helm needed, and the greater the rudder angle which creates drag, inhibiting speed further.
Not The End For Enda
Irish skipper Enda O'Coineen has vowed to 'complete' the Vendee Globe by sailing his yacht Team Ireland - Kilcullen Voyager back to Les Sables d'Olonne.
Although officially out of the race, O'Coineen says he aims to complete the circumnavigation that cruelly ended when his boat dismasted south of New Zealand on New Year's Day. Just over two weeks later and the 61-year-old Dubliner has set sail from Dunedin in the south of New Zealand's South Island bound for Auckland with a temporary mast and sails donated by local sailor Blair McNabb.
Once in Auckland, some 800 miles away, O'Coineen will source a new mast and rig before restarting the voyage which will take him back into the Southern Ocean, around Cape Horn and through the Atlantic to the Vendee Globe's home port.
If he completes the voyage he will become the first Irishman to circumnavigate the globe solo.
O'Coineen will return home to Ireland before returning to New Zealand later in the year or in early 2018 to resume his circumnavigation. He said he did not plan on returning to the Vendee Globe in four years but hoped his boat would be on the start line.
"I have made many friends in Les Sables and I look forward to getting back there and then home to Ireland," he added. "On completing the circumnavigation I will have no desire to go again but I hope that Team Ireland will move forward to do the Barcelona two-handed Around the World Race and perhaps the Vendee in 2020."
Sail Maldives Rally Postponed Due To Weather
The inaugural Sail Maldives yacht rally has been postponed until February 25th due to severe weather off the coast of Sri Lanka, which is inhibiting yachts from being able to make a safe passage from South East Asia to the Maldives.
Originally the rally had been set to begin on January 20th. The decision was taken to ensure the safety of sailors en-route to the rally.
The organiser, Adeel Ahmed, CEO of Luxury Collections, said: "Cyclones south of Sri Lanka were inhibiting yachts from being able to sail to the Maldives in time for the start date. We regret any inconvenience this rescheduling may cause anyone, but would like to reassure you that all participants have been informed and were relieved to hear that we have rescheduled the date. Indeed, the participants have been very supportive of our decision to postpone the start of the rally in consideration of their safety.
For more information visit www.sailmaldives.net or email
Wicklow Sailing Club Are Ireland's New Mitsubishi Motors 'Club Of The Year'
Wicklow Sailing Club are best-known as the big-hearted little organisation which keeps the fabulous Volvo Round Ireland Race show on the road with such style that it is now one of Europe's premier events, with a stellar international entry list of 63 boats - many of them world famous - in June 2016. But where some other smaller clubs might find their own members' sailing activities distorted or diminished through the voluntary organisational effort which is required to keep a biennial mega-event on this scale running smoothly, in Wicklow the reverse is true writes W M Nixon.
The big race - at 704 miles it is nearly a hundred miles longer than the other classics such as the Fastnet, the Sydney-Hobart, the Caribbean 600, the Bermuda Race and the Middle Sea Race - is run with the full co-operation of the RORC, and back-up support from the Royal Irish YC in Dun Laoghaire. Yet in Wicklow the club spirit is such that not only are there volunteers ready and willing to provide further assistance to key personnel such as the Volvo Round Ireland Race Organiser Theo Phelan and his team, but there is ample evidence that this high level of voluntary effort spreads into every corner of club activity.
Fine example of the SOTO 40. She is currently stored inside, on her low cradle and ready to ship anywhere in the world.
An absolute gem of a yacht. Built originally for the founder of Wally Yachts, she offers sublime sailing performance and beautiful lines. Maxi Racer 20m One Off that’s been constantly updated and absolutely ready for the next owner.
Superb example of the Swan 80. New decks and paint in 2016 with excellent inventory for cruising and racing.
See the RaceboatsOnly.com collection at seahorsemagazine.com/brokerage/
The Last Word
When information is cheap, attention becomes expensive. -- James Gleick
Advertising inquiries to Graeme Beeson: or see www.scuttlebutteurope.com/advertise.html