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

Hungary's Nandor Fa Eighth In The Vendee Globe
Hungarian solo skipper Nandor Fa brought his Spirit of Hungary across the finish line of the Vendee Globe at 10 hrs 54 m 09 secs UTC this Wednesday morning to earn an excellent eighth place overall.

Fa, at 63, completes this epic eighth edition of the legendary solo non stop round the world race 24 years after becoming the first ever non-French skipper to complete the Vendee Globe.

His elapsed time on Spirit of Hungary, which he designed himself, is 93 days 22 hrs, 52 mins, and 9 secs. He sailed 27,850 miles at an average speed of 12.35 knots. He enjoyed an emotional reunion with his wife Iren and two daughters Lilli, 27, and Anna, 37, both of whom were tiny when their father first returned triumphant.

Fa finishes 6 days 1 hour 6 minutes and 20 seconds after seventh placed Louis Burton and has held eighth place since Christmas Day.

"It is over. I have done it. It was successful according to my rules, my hopes. This is such beautiful weather to finish, the gods are with me and the people, friends, family, who have come out to greet me, it is so overwhelming. I can't find the right words. It was 92 days of fighting. Sometimes it felt endless. It was really long, really tough, all the time it was really wet.

Eighth place is far beyond my dreams. At the start I did not think about placings because this fleet is so strong. The boats are so prepared and good. I thought my place with my boat, my age it might have been 15th to 20th. My performance I just wanted to be better than 100 days. That happened. Eighth is way beyond my imagination."

Olympic Ripples - Guest Editorial From Digby Fox
The Olympic sailing format may be about to change in a dramatic way. The RS:X classes are experimenting with a knock-out competition that sees 12 athletes qualify for the quarters, cutting down to six for the semis, then cutting to the best three for a finals shoot-out. Points do not carry. Whoever crosses the line first in that final wins the event, second is second. It's a pure podium battle.

Here's why I think it's a fantastic move. The Star Sailors League came up with this ATP tennis Grand Slam style of competition four years ago, and I can tell you, it's superb.

My involvement with SSL has been as commentator, and as a sailing fan, the SSL finals have been awesome. Admittedly, guest experts like Denis Conner, Jochen Schumann, Paul Cayard and Luke Patience (to name drop a few) have helped by injecting superb insight into the game, but as viewers, we've enjoyed the drama of the cuts, space and time to really analyse why x is beating y, and then in the final itself, the winner is actually the winner, boom, podium 1,2,3.

Here are the recent highlights, see for yourself

By contrast, if it's a done deal, the current Olympic medal race can be like watching a maths class calculating who comes second... Bit of an anti-climax. How gripping would the Olympic 100 metre finals be, knowing who'd won already, on points?

Over the past four years, the Star sailors themselves, who came up with this idea, have been perfectly happy with the end results in terms of sporting integrity. They enjoy a solid chunk of racing everyone else over the first four days, then the best win on the day, under the pressure of the final.

The RS:X classes are trying this at the Europeans in May, and maybe the Princesa Sofia regatta next month. Good luck to them. The SSL has already shown how well the concept works.

Seahorse March 2017
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Between them Morrelli & Melvin and Hudson Yachts have created another fine-looking big cat, this one with the emphasis on a fast but safe boat that is manageable without the need for professional crew. Yet somehow 'pound for pound' it has come out relatively faster than the big sister that preceded it

Let the audience in
Blue Robinson talks to Leon Sefton about some big changes for the already complex role of the Volvo Ocean Race onboard report

Practical steps
How Ben Ainslie's America's Cup campaign is leading the field in taking care of the pitch...

Patrice Carpentier and Michel Desjoyeaux revisit the 'scene' of one of the great singlehanded ocean racing performances

IRC column - In good shape
It was 20 years ago today... James Dadd

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The Brits Are Serious Again
After 166 years of regularly losing the world's oldest sporting trophy, the America's Cup, Britain is getting serious about challenging again, and Land Rover BAR have high hopes for their new boat that they believe will be one of the fastest and most technically advanced race yachts ever.

Launched in Bermuda, the boat was named 'Rita' by Sir Ben Ainslie's wife Lady Georgie Ainslie and daughter Bellatrix. The name has a winning pedigree - Sir Ben has used it throughout his career.

The boast is the fruit of collaborative design work by Land Rover and Jaguar combining aerodynamics, AI, virtual modelling, and self-learning car technologies. If all that can deliver Britain's first-ever win, then it will all have been worth it, even if no-one is talking about the cost, which at this level is astronomical, easily comparable to Formula One racing.

* After years spent tinkering away in secret back at their Portsmouth headquarters, Rita - arguably one of the most sophisticated boats ever to have been built and certainly one of the fastest - was officially unveiled on Monday by Land Rover BAR beneath leaden skies at their new temporary base in Bermuda.

It will be a few days yet before Ainslie and his crew sail Rita for the first time. And rather like F1 cars that break ground for the first time in winter testing, the final product will in many respects bear little resemblance to what we saw on Monday. The control systems on board, for instance, will be continually refined over the next few months right up until the start of the final qualifying series in May and - hopefully - the Cup match itself in June.

But to all intents and purposes this marked the start of the final run-in to the 35th America's Cup. Land Rover BAR have now revealed their hand and their rivals will have been watching intently. The first of the six America's Cup teams to launch their race boat, Ainslie's team will hope to be first come the finish.

2nd Women's Sailing Cup Italia
Chiavari, Italy: Blue Project together with Citta di Chiavari, Marina di Chiavari, and Lega Navale Italia Sez di Lavagna, are organizing the 2nd Women's Sailing Cup Italia. The event is 100% Women, 100% Sport, 100% Solidarity to promote women sailing across Europe and raise funds for the Italian Association for Research on Cancer- all women from around the world are welcome to join us!!

The regatta will be held on Blue Project's J/80's and the dates are 24th to 26th of March 2017. The 2016 event proved to be an extremely popular program for women's team from across Europe- Italy, United Kingdom, Russia, Sweden, France, Netherlands, and Slovenia.

The initial interest for this year's event is expected to eclipse last year's program, with crews expressing interest from over a dozen European nations.

Please contact Ivana Quattrini for more information- ph# +39-335-8093904/ email-

Etchells Youth Programme: Sail A Fully- Funded Etchells For A Year!
Thanks to the generosity and support of The Royal London Yacht Club, investment bank LionTree, and volunteers within the Etchells Class Association, young, talented sailors who aspire to race one design keelboats at the highest level are invited to apply for access to a fully race-prepared Etchells keelboat for the Cowes Etchells Fleet 2017 racing season.

Success at the trials means that the selected teams can benefit from the use of their own boat and participate in a full programme of competitive racing with entry fees and boat-yard costs covered by the class.

In the past 5 years, over 230 youths have competed in an Etchells in Cowes, with a significant number experiencing top level Etchells racing in Newport, USA, Hong Kong, Miami, Italy and Australia.

Entries are now being accepted for the Youth Trials to be held in Cowes on 1-2 April 2017.

Applications are welcome from both individuals and pre-formed teams of three or four sailors; the latter need to be aware of the class weight limit of 285kg.

This opportunity is only open to sailors who wish to campaign an Etchells for all (or nearly all) of the 2017 season, and are within the ages of 18 and 25 (as of January 1st 2017).

The trials will consist of one day of boat acclimatization and training, followed by one day of observed racing. There will be an informal dinner on the Saturday night.

Entry costs are £50.00 per person, to include dinner and accommodation on the Saturday evening. For those who do not require accommodation, the entry fees are reduced to £25.00 per person.

All applications should be sent to David Bedford: and should include a sailing CV, DOB and weight.

If you have any questions, please contact David by either email or phone: 0780 8400008.

'Please note that sailors who are members of the current BKA One Design Etchells squad do not need to apply through this route as this will be covered as part of the squad process'

Annalise Murphy Leads The Charge For Moth Womens' World Championship Honours's Sailor of the Year, Annalise Murphy, the 2016 Laser Radial Olympic Silver Medallist and 2014 Women's Moth World Champion, leads the charge in the growing women's fleet of this year's Moth World Championships scheduled for Malcesine, Italy.

Murphy will be up against reigning champion Wakako Tabata (JPN) and 2013 Women's Champion Emma Gravare (SWE). With 6 months remaining, the 2017 Moth Worlds has already attracted a record number of entrants. Earlybird entries closed on Tuesday with 190 competitors from 25 countries registered for the event to be held at the Fraglia vela Malcesine on Lake Garda in late July.

The record line-up features a daunting who's who of top sailors.

At the top of the list is the Olympic Laser shoot out, with reigning Moth World Champion, 2008 Gold Medallist and Artemis Racing helmsman Paul Goodison (GBR) going up against 2012 Gold Medallist and Oracle Team USA tactician Tom Slingsby (AUS) and 2016 Gold Medallist Tom Burton (AUS).

Among the past champions, 2009 & 2013 Moth World Champion Bora Gulari (USA) makes a comeback to the class after taking time out to compete in the Nacra 17 at the Rio Olympics.

Moth Worlds:

Spanish Team,  Iker Martinez, Crash In Mallorca Tour
Sadly the attemp to establish a record around Mallorca for Iker Martinez his "Equipo Movistar" team on a M32 failed today on a broken mast,

An Old Foe Returns To The Farr 40s
A familiar skipper is making his Farr 40 return with an unfamiliar boat name at this weekend's NSW State Title hosted by the Middle Harbour Yacht Club at The Spit, Sydney.

Guido Belgiorno-Nettis is bringing what was Transfusion, now Angophora, to the NSW Farr 40 title under a very different set of expectations. The boat's moniker derives from Angophora Capital, the Belgiorno-Nettis' family office which was named after a native Red Gum Angophora Costata that lines the foreshore of Sydney's famous waterways.

The days when Transfusion was the boat to beat are still vivid in the class' memory. Belgiorno-Nettis has, until now, sat out of the 2016/17 season though his son Massimo put a Transfusion crew together for the Pittwater One Design Trophy and the boat was lent to Jeff Carter for the Newcastle OD Trophy last month.

Meanwhile Martin Hill's Estate Master has slapped a reserve sign on the top spot once held by the multiple Australian and world champion Transfusion crew. Hill's team was victorious in two of the three lead-up regattas with Carter's Edake the nearest challenger on cumulative points.

Returning to the eight boat field for the state title is Lang Walker's Kokomo, which scored the opening win at the MHYC One Design Trophy in October then took a spell for the next two lead-in series.

Up to four races are due to start offshore on Saturday February 11 from 1100hrs and on Sunday at 1100hrs back in Sydney Harbour, most likely on the waters between North and South Head called The Sound.

Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson and his team will oversee the roll out of the planned eight-race schedule.

Farr 40 2016/17 NSW State Title entries:
1. Angophora - Guido Belgiorno-Nettis (NSW)
2. Double Black - Rob Pitts (VIC)
3. Edake - Jeff Carter (NSW)
4. Estate Master - Martin Hill (NSW)
5. Exile - Rob Reynolds (NSW)
6. Kokomo - Lang Walker (NSW)
7. Nutcracker - Rob Davis & Andy Baker (VIC)
8. Zen - Gordon Ketelbey (NSW)

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

Record: Around the World. Outright
Yacht: IDEC. 120 ft Trimaran
Name: Francis Joyon. FRA and 5 crew
Dates:.16th December 2016 to the 26th January 2017
Start time: 08;19;00 UTC on 16/12/16
Finish time: 07;49;30 UTC on 26/01/17
Elapsed time: 40 days 23 hours 30 minutes and 30 seconds.
Distance: 21600 NM
Average speed: 21.96 kts

Comments:. Previous record: Banque Populaire 5. Loick Peyron. FRA. Jan 12. 45d 13h 42m 53s

John Reed
Secretary to the WSSR Council

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