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
Day 103: It Ain't Over 'til It's Over
Vigilance is required all the way to the finish line of the Vendee Globe. Solo skippers often talk of the last miles being the most difficult and the most stressful. After finishing in ninth place on Monday night Eric Bellion confirmed that he was on the point of giving up within 48 hours of the finish line because he was exhausted, had no power and could not hoist his mainsail because of a twist in his halyard.
The skippers who have yet to finish are only too aware of the fate of Conrad Colman, the New Zealand skipper who was dismasted last Friday less than 800 miles from the finish. Fabrice Amedeo, who is due to finish in 11th place on Saturday morning today had a salutary reminder that the race is not over until the gun sounds on the finish line at the Nouch buoy off Les Sables d'Olonne. Just after passing the busy shipping lanes off Cape Finisterre, Amedeo came within minutes of a collision with an unidentified freighter.
Arnaud Boissieres was less that 40 miles from the finish line this afternoon but it was the lack of wind which was making it hard to determine whether he would cross the line and come straight into his home harbour or whether he would remain at sea for one last night. The Les Sablais skipper is determined to come in with his boat directly to the dock. He will take tenth place.
Boissieres was making less than five knots while the beaches of Les Sables d'Olonne had dozens of visitors and locals enjoying warm sunshine on the expansive sands in scenes more reminiscent of summer than mid February. The solo racer who is due to finish his third consecutive Vendee Globe has a French bakery chain as his main sponsor.
Meantime Conrad Colman is still making slow but meaningful progress towards Les Sables d'Olonne under his jury rigged Foresight Natural Energy. Average speeds are between three and four knots and he has 670 miles to the finish line.
Omani sailing star Fahad Al Hasni led his crew to a sensational victory in the opening clash of EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour, beating reigning champions EFG Bank Monaco (MON) in a thrilling last-minute comeback on Wednesday
Seasoned skipper Al Hasni and his Team Renaissance (OMA) trailed the three-time EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour winners with only a few miles remaining of the 105-nautical mile sprint from Muscat to Sohar.
But a stunning 11th-hour resurgence saw Team Renaissance overhaul EFG Bank Monaco, skippered by race ace Thierry Douillard and helmed by former match racing world champion Mathieu Richard, just metres from the finish line to snatch the win and cause the first big upset of the event.
Al Hasni, who has competed in every edition of EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour since its inception in 2011 and missed the podium by just one point last year, said the victory on home waters was the perfect start to this year's campaign.
EFG Bank Monaco skipper Douillard vowed to avenge the defeat in Leg 2, a 140-mile sprint from Sohar to Khasab on the beautiful Musandam Peninsula, the second of five offshore stages that will see the fleet race 763 miles around the Arabian Gulf.
As well as being one third longer than the event opener, Leg 2 also presents numerous on-the-water challenges including a changing weather forecast and dozens of oil tankers to dodge.
The leg will see the fleet sail along the picturesque coasts of Oman and the UAE before reaching the Musandam Peninsula where Khasab and the finish line lie.
With winds forecast to lighten it could take the fleet more than 24 hours to complete the stage.
Results after Leg 1 (Muscat-Sohar):
1. Team Renaissance (OMA/Fahad Al Hasni)
2. EFG Bank Monaco (MON/Thierry Douillard)
3. Team Al Mouj Muscat (OMA/Christian Ponthieu)
4. Team Zain (KUW/Cedric Pouligny)
5. Adelasia di Torres (ITA/Renato Azara)
6. Team Averda (GBR/Andrew Baker)
7. Bienne Voile (SUI/Lorenz Mueller)
8. DB Schenker (GER/Annemeike Bes)
2017 JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship
The closeness of the 2016 championship and the likely improvement in a few of last year's rookie teams, indicates the 2017 championship will be just as tough to win as Smeg's victory was just twelve months ago.
Smeg will be going into the regatta with the same experienced team (Lee Knapton, Mike McKensey, Ricky Bridge) which was able to withstand some very strong challenges."
Good early season form, including a victory in the 2016-2017 NSW Championship series, has assured the team favouritism for a successful defence in the JJ Giltinan Championship.
There is no doubt, appliancesonline.com.au (David Witt, Tom Anderson, Tom Clout) is the most likely threat to Smeg's attempt to retain the title, and skipper David Witt makes it clear that the team has done "what was necessary" to cover the gap at the 2016 championship.
The local fleet has Coopers 62-Rag & Famish Hotel (Jack Macartney), Compassmarkets.com (Keagan York), Yandoo (John Winning), The Kitchen Maker (Stephen Quigley), De'Longhi (Simon Nearn) and Line 7 (Jonathan Whitty).
New Zealand has C-Tech (Alex Vallings) and Knight Frank (Riley Dean). Both proven competitors in previous championship regattas.
Two other internationals with great credentials are former Giltinan champion Howie Hamlin (USA) and Jarrod Simpson (UK).
Hamlin returns after missing last year's championship with illness. He will skipper Harken and has a very experienced team with him.
Simpson will skipper a brand new skiff recently built by Van Munster Boats and also has a top team with him for this regatta.
The Danish team of Flemming Clausen, Soren Clausen and Jesper Broendum also return for another crack at the JJs. This time the team has chartered the New Zealand skiff Events Clothing for their challenge.
The 2017 JJ Giltinan Championship will be sailed from 25 February to 5 March. Frank Quealey
GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series, The Finale
This Saturday's Oxford Blue sees four boats in with a chance of winning the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series. Ben Schooling sits in pole position aboard his Musto Skiff and, as winner of last year's Oxford Blue, looks like a strong bet for overall victory. However Craig Williamson is just behind in second place, having raced his Laser to victory at the first event of Series back in November, the Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash.
Waiting to pounce further back down the rankings is the RS200 of Matt Mee and Emma Norris who won consecutive events at the Datchet Flyer and the Yorkshire Dales Brass Monkey. And there's another dark horse in the form of RS400 team, Chris Pickles and Matt Sharman, also within striking distance of outright victory.
With 137 entries already in, it looks like the 150-boat limit will be reached before online entry closes at midnight on Thursday evening, 16 February. If you move quickly, you might still get a place: www.sailjuiceseries.com
By far the biggest class turnout for the season finale is by the RS Aero 7, with 31 boats currently signed up for Oxford. Along with five RS Aero 5s and eight RS Aero 9s, the total entry for the event, which also serves as the RS Aero Winter Championships, stands at 44. Just fighting for clear air off the start line and escaping the singlehander traffic will be a feat in itself, and could prove one of the challenges for Williamson if he's to challenge for overall victory in his Laser.
There will be many races within the race, and there are still more than 30 boats with a chance of making the top 10 overall in the Series. Here's a round-up of some of the other contests going on...
America's Cup 12 Metre Freedom To Return To Newport
Click on image to enlarge.
Robertson, a former trustee of the New York Yacht Club, plans to race Freedom in the boat's home waters of Newport, R.I. starting in June. He will participate in the International 12 Metre Class's recently announced "Road to the Worlds" series that culminates in the 2019 12-Metre World Championship, which is scheduled to coincide with celebrations marking the 175th anniversary of the New York Yacht Club.
Designed by Olin Stephens and constructed at Minneford Yacht Yard in City Island, NY, Freedom was the last yacht to successfully defend the America's Cup for the New York Yacht Club by defeating Australia in 1980 in four out of five races. After the 1983 America's Cup, she was sold to France where she stayed for many years before returning to the U.S. in 1999. Currently, Freedom is at Pilot's Point Marina in Westbrook, Conn. where she is undergoing substantial work. Along with getting new sails, instruments and electronics, she will be newly painted to look similar to how she did in 1980.
The Road to the Worlds schedule for 2017 starts with the Newport MetreFest, June 9-11, which coincides with the New York Yacht Club 163rd Annual Regatta.
Special Resonance For The Andrew Simpson Foundation
It will not have escaped many people's notice that 2017 is the year of the America's Cup in Bermuda, a much-anticipated sporting event of global interest and of special significance to the Trustees, Management team, Supporters and Beneficiaries of the Andrew Simpson Foundation (ASF). The Foundation's founding Trustees include Sir Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy OBE.
The Foundation is the charity that was set up to honour the life and legacy of sailor Andrew 'Bart' Simpson MBE who lost his life, aged 36, in a tragic accident during training for the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco Bay in 2013.
One of the ASF's core activities is the provision of both practical and financial support in the delivery of inspiring sailing programmes around the world, in memory of Bart. At the centre of everything the Foundation represents going forward is this message:
Andrew Simpson Foundation : The Sailing Charity
Expanding horizons : Improving young lives
Up to and including 2017 to date, there have been 45 individual projects delivered and grants pledged, totalling £736,000 across 12 countries. Whilst the big numbers may look impressive, it's often the smaller projects where a Foundation grant being awarded can make the crucial difference between disadvantaged young people getting on the water or not\
The 2017 campaign rolls out on the Foundation's stand at the RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show in early March (4-5 March) and continues throughout Cowes Week (29 July-5 Aug) where the Andrew Simpson Foundation is this year's Official Charity, and then the big Bart's Bash weekend (16-17 September).
Thomas Coville redefines the solo game, Jo Aleh looks offshore, the gentlest of (fast) Hobarts, Key West shines on and ARMEL battles metal fatigue (as well as Alex Thomson). Ivor Wilkins, Blue Robinson, Patrice Carpentier, Dobbs Davis
The Dynamic Stability System has moved in from the lunatic fringe... Gordon Kay reviews the progress and acceptability that have been achieved
Unclipping the wings
James Boyd clambers inside some of today's new AC Class wings... metaphorically speaking
A crew may not be a deciding factor in winning the America's Cup but they can certainly lose it. Ken Read introduces his new Cup column...
Special rates for Scuttlebutt Europe subscribers:
Seahorse Print or Digital Subscription Use Discount Promo Code SB2
1yr Print Sub: €77 - £48 - $71 / Rest of the World: £65 www.seahorse.co.uk/shop/subs/
1yr Digital Sub for £30: www.seahorse.co.uk/shop/digital
Discounts shown are valid on a one year subscription to Seahorse magazine.
The Art Of Boat Art
Click on image to enlarge.
Some recent examples of the marriage of sailing and art come from the desk of Joan Garrett and her design graphics company Regatta Boat Graphics.
Her work with Frank Slootman's C&C 30' and Pacific 52' Invisible Hand Projects and Manouch Moshayedi's Rio 52' have resulted in head turning grand prix project that make the owners and sailors proud and the competition envious. After years in the corporate rat race, Joan moved on from the hustle and bustle of marketing VP and onto a more creative and personally rewarding lifestyle, producing stellar graphic artwork for connoisseurs of fine art combined with the grace and beauty of finely crafted vessels.
Joan's also the designer behind the Pacific 52 logo, and is currently designing the new artwork for the former R/P45 Criminal Mischief which has a new Japanese owner and has renamed her Lady Kanon VI and will be competing in this years Trans Pac.
History Of The Melges Rabbit Ears
We just received word from Sailing World that the magazine is searching for personal stories from sailors about their own one-design class. In the new 'My Class, My Story' column, Sailing World's editor Dave Reed invites sailors to write about one-design boats and the communities that make them stand out. Here at Melges, we're confident that we have some very special one-design communities. Dave says, "They're simply fiberglass objects that provide us immense pleasure, a competitive outlet, and a social network for life. It's the people and the stories that make each of them unique. So I invite you to share your story, your class. Write me at ." We would love to hear from you, so we can share it too:
It's now official, the third oldest race of the Mini circuit (following the Mini-Transat in 1977 and the Mini-Fastnet in 1985) will celebrate its 30th anniversary.
Organized since 1987 from Port Bourgenay, the 16th edition of the Transgascogne will leave the harbour of Les Sables d'olonne on July, 30th 2017 toward Aviles (Asturies) and come back to Les Sables d'olonne (start of the 2nd leg on August, 5th).
Small change then regarding the 600 NM course and competitors will always have the possibility to participate in this legendary event single or double handed.
No doubt that the new organizer, Les Sables d'Olonne Vendee Course au Large, who is also the organizer of the race Les Sables - The Azores - Les Sables will make a success of this race.
Maxi champion Reichel/Pugh 82 which is equally good at coastal and inshore racing. Equipped to an incredibly high standard and ready to go for next year’s Caribbean season and beyond.
Now we’re really cooking with gas as Ker and McConaghy introduce this 90ft globe-girdling powerhouse. All three of the new McConaghy cats look to deliver a nice combination of aesthetics, roomy interiors but still a promise of proper sailing
+61 2 999 777 22
RAGAMUFFIN 90 is now on the market and our latest central listing. Built as GENUINE RISK in 2004, and competing world wide from Sardinia to Hawaii, GR always was at the front of the fleet. Under her second owner, she won both the 2010 Newport to Bermuda race, and the overall prize for the 2011 811 mile Fort Lauderdale to Montego Bay race, and the overall win at Antigua sailing week both under Csa and IRC leaving no question that she was still one of the fastest maxi boats sailing.
Please contact William Jenkins at 410-267-9419
See the RaceboatsOnly.com collection at seahorsemagazine.com/brokerage/
The Last Word
Humor levels the playing field. -- Robert Mankoff
Advertising inquiries to Graeme Beeson: or see www.scuttlebutteurope.com/advertise.html