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

RORC Caribbean 600 Start
The ninth edition of the RORC Caribbean 600 started in magnificent conditions with the largest ever offshore fleet assembled in the Caribbean enjoying sparkling conditions. A southeasterly breeze, occasionally gusting up to 15 knots and a relatively calm sea state provided conditions for the perfect start with some close battles on the water.

The MOD70 battle for multihull line honours has already kicked off. Lloyd Thornburg's Phaedo3 pulled away from Giovanni Soldini's Maserati at the upwind start but as the two cracked sheets at Green Island, Maserati deployed their foil and took up the lead. Two hours into the race, the two flying trimarans were approaching the Barbuda mark touching 18 knots of boat speed.

George David's Rambler 88 got away to a terrific start and leads the monohull fleet on the water by almost three miles on approach to Barbuda. However, three hours into the race and after IRC time correction, George Sakellaris' Proteus is estimated to be leading overall with Hap Fauth's Bella Mente second and Rambler 88 third.

IRC Canting Keel and IRC Zero produced a thrilling start. Lionel Pean's French Volvo 70 SFS II came charging in on port, baring away behind the two Maxi72s to take a commanding position on the favoured left side of the course.

The Class40 Division are enjoying incredibly close racing. Peter Harding's Ph-orty leads, Catherine Pourre's Earendil and Halvard Mabire's Campagne de France are both within one mile. The pack of Class40s have the magnificent sight of the 182ft twin-masted schooner Adela ahead of them. Cressida Robinson reporting from Carl Wilcox's Nisida: "We have had everything from 15 knots gusting up to 30 and spotted a water spout on the way to Barbuda."

Track the fleet

Spithill And Team Sail "17"
Click on image to enlarge.

America's Cup ORACLE TEAM USA took to the Great Sound on Monday, sailing its newly launched America's Cup Class boat, "17", for the first time.

"We had a successful day," said skipper Jimmy Spithill dockside after the training session. "First impressions were great. The boat went really well, so everyone is happy."

The new boat was first revealed to the public on Tuesday evening last week, and touched the water for the first time to be christened "17" on Wednesday.

Monday marked the first sail for "17" and the team was on the water for four hours, completing a series of preliminary performance and safety tests.

"This boat may look similar to the old boat, but it's not. There are a lot of changes. We have a very different playbook for how we sail this boat and even then, it's constantly evolving."

Sailing Team Manager and tactician Tom Slingsby says the next step is to load the boat up in stronger winds before turning to full race practice mode.

"It would good to have a bit more breeze next time out and then we'll be into race laps and we're good to go with our race preparation."

Harken Reflex&Trade; Furling Tames Downwind Sails Top-To-Bottom
Harkenn The Harken Reflex furling system makes the promise of top-down furling for free-flying sails reality - finally! The Harken torsion cable is the key.

It transfers torque from bottom to top much better than others on the market. Pull the furling line, and the top swivel reacts reflexively, way up there where top-down furls must start. That fights partial furling. There's less need to preload in the cable before the furl begins too.

Use the Reflex and top-to-bottom, your furl is smooth, even, complete. Enjoy your free-flying sails more often and have a lot more fun on the water!

Alan Roura Takes Twelfth Place
The 23 year old Swiss sailor who is the youngest of the 29 solo skippers who left Les Sables d'Olonne on November 6th, Alan Roura, crossed the finish line of the Vendee Globe this Monday morning at 0812hrs UTC to take 12th place.

Sailing one of the oldest boats in fleet for this eighth edition of the non-stop solo round the world race, Roura's finish reflects his exceptional drive and tenacity and belies the very tight budget which the young sailor ran his programme on.

The sailor who turns 24 on 26th February is the youngest skipper to finish the race since it was first contested in 1989. Race rookie Roura's elapsed time for the 27,700 mile course is 105 days, 20 hours 10 mins and 32 seconds.

He may have finished 31 days after race winner Armel Le Cleac'h, but sailing the renowned Superbigou which was built in a garden by compatriot Bernard Stamm - renamed Le Fabrique for the race - he was just under 2 days behind 11th placed Fabrice Amedeo on a faster, newer generation boat.

"When I set off I thought I'd break something or finish last and in fact I found everything I was looking for. It's like Christmas and birthdays for ten years have come all at once. I haven't yet come to grips with what is happening. I dreamt of this moment when I was small."

"She's an old boat and I don't have that much experience of ocean racing, so I feel really proud. This is a victory for the team and the sponsor, for us all, but with this great finish, this is my victory."

"When we set out we didn't have to time to do everything we wanted. In terms of problems there was the collision with an unidentified floating object. And I pulled a winch off its base, but the boat is magical. She is incredible and will remain Superbigou."

Sailing Yacht A Held In Gibraltar
One of the world's largest yachts has been arrested in Gibraltar over a €15.3m admiralty claim filed by the German shipyard that built it.

The sleek, futuristic Sailing Yacht A attracted wide media attention when it sailed into port on Wednesday morning for what should have been a short refuelling stop.

But just hours after its arrival, lawyers for superyacht builder Nobiskrug filed a claim in the Supreme Court against the vessel's "owners/charterers/operators" for breach of contract.

According to court documents, Nobiskrug says the final €9.8m payment of a shipbuilding contract between the yard and Valla Yachts Limited, the vessel's Bermuda-based registered owner, was due on January 27 but has not been paid.

Nobiskrug is also claiming sums of €2.6m and €2.9m which, according to the court documents, are already the subject of a dispute between the yard and Valla Yachts over liability for sub-contractor invoices and disputed variation orders during the building process.

The total sum sought by Nobiskrug amounts to €15,298,297.05 [£12,748,581] plus interest, according to the claim filed by Triay Stagnetto Neish, the Gibraltar law firm acting for the yard.

A spokesman for Sailing Yacht A told the Chronicle "outstanding issues" were not uncommon in a bespoke project of this nature and scale.

But he added that the €9.8m claimed for payment was part of ongoing discussions between the owner and the shipyard.

"We find this act of arrest of Sailing Yacht A in Gibraltar an astounding act for a shipbuilder of Nobiskrug's standing," the spokesman said.

"We assumed the matter was progressing to a resolution as Nobiskrug were happy to release the yacht on February 5th to the owner's project team for further works to be carried out in Spain."

"The money was paid by the owner the following day into an Escrow account pending a resolution of the discussions."

"All monies now being claimed are in arbitration and there will be a tribunal hearing on Tuesday next week. The matter is in the hands of our lawyers."

Nobiskrug did not respond to requests for comment. -- Brian Reyes in the Gibraltar Chronicle

Industry News
Andy Ormiston 35 years of service for Spinlock's Andy Ormiston

Spinlock, designers and manufacturers of rope-holding equipment and personal safety products for water users, have been celebrating the long-service of one of their staff.

Andy Ormiston, 51, began his career at Spinlock on 22nd February 1982 and this week celebrated 35 years' service at Spinlock. Spinlock CEO Chris Hill and Operations Director Caroline Senior presented Andy with a bottle of champagne and a long-service award at the company's production site in Three Gates Road, Cowes.

Andy started working at Spinlock when he was 17 as factory foreman. This was when the factory was in the basement of Spinlock's current head office building in Birmingham Road, Cowes. During his time at Spinlock Andy met his wife, Sam, who also worked for the company, and they have gone on to have three children. Andy is now Spinlock's Quality and Facilities Manager.

CEO Chris Hill added: "On behalf of the whole team, I would like to extend my thanks to Andy for his dedication to the business over the last 35 years. As Spinlock approaches its 50th year in 2018, Andy is still very much a core member of the team; his product knowledge is renowned both within the company and by our customers, particularly when questions arise about historic ranges. Andy's length of service is testament to his dedication and work ethos."

Spinlock employ 46 staff at their bases in Birmingham Road and Three Gates Roads, in Cowes on the Isle of Wight. 2018 will see the award-winning company celebrate its 50 th anniversary.


Travel group TUI (TUIT.L) said it had agreed to sell its specialist holiday arm Travelopia to KKR (KKR.N) at an enterprise value of 325 million pounds ($407 million).

* Editor: Travelopia's holdings include Sunsail, The Moorings and Le Boat.

TUI had put Travelopia, comprised of over 50 brands offering specialist luxury, adventure and education holidays, on the block in September as part of a push to sell non-core assets.

Citi and Barclays advised TUI on the transaction, with Citi taking the lead.


Sunsail has thrown its support behind Southampton Sailing Week, stepping on board as an official event partner.

The company, one of the UK's leading sail charter brands, aims to use its involvement to encourage more people to take up the sport of sailing.

The first ever Southampton Sailing Week takes place from 24 to 29 May and will see the city awash with activity both on and off the water, including six days of racing in the Solent and regatta-style entertainment each evening. The week will also feature plenty of opportunities for people to try their hand at sailing.

Throughout Southampton Sailing Week, Sunsail will run a series of sailing taster days at MDL's Ocean Village Marina, giving newcomers to the sport a chance to learn under the guidance of its expert sailing school instructors.


After a successful edition in Malta, the Yacht Racing Forum invites members of the yacht racing community from all over the world to Save the Date and join the 2017 event, on November 27-28 in Aarhus, Denmark.

Organized by MaxComm Communication and presented by Aarhus Events, Sport Event Denmark and Sailing Aarhus, the Forum will provide a unique opportunity to network, debate the future of the sport and make business for the tenth year in a row.

We accept early registrations. Our Early Bird rate will be valid for the top 80 registrants !

If you want to learn more about this event, check the 2016 Post Event Report, with some interesting statistics and achievements from last year's Forum.

Information and registration:


McConaghy will build the Phantom International range, including the new 18ft foiling catamaran Flying Phantom Essentiel, launched at Paris Boat Show in December last year.

McConaghy have been building high performance yachts since 1967, from small 18 foot skiffs to America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race boats. They have decades of composite knowledge. More recently, they have built the AC45f world series foils, as well as the MACH2 foiling Moth.

Both Flying Phantom Elite and the new Flying Phantom Essentiel will be manufactured at McConaghy's high-tech factory just North of Hong-Kong in Zhuhai (China). This state-of-the-art facility is meeting our high-end specifications and quality control required by our One Design products. Production will start within the next few weeks in order to meet first deliveries in May.


The first Versilia Yachting Rendez-Vous will be held from 11th to 14th May 2017Milan - The event, devised and keenly desired by Nautica Italiana, is organized by Fiera Milano.

The event, devised and keenly desired by Nautica Italiana, is organized by Fiera Milano with the collaboration in the field of Distretto Teconologico per la Nautica e la Portualità Toscana, Regione Toscana, the Municipality of Viareggio and other municipalities in Versilia, the intention being to involve the entire industry, together with the national and international trade associations.

The Milan based exhibition company, which boasts an extended experience in organizing and managing major exhibitions, will be the exhibitor's mediator, totally supporting them with all the necessary steps regarding their presence at The Versilia Yachting Rendez-vous.


Spirit Yachts has opened its new boat building yard at its Ipswich headquarters, a joint investment with landlords ABP of £300,000.

The new yard is located next to the company's current premises and has been built to be as energy efficient as possible with LED lighting, modern heating systems and efficient insulation and extraction.

It will allow Spirit Yachts to continue to expand its workforce and increase build capacity in response to a growing order book and strong positive interest for the future.

In anticipation of the new building, the company has already hired ten new team members and is recruiting for further staff.

The new facility will allow Spirit Yachts to work on yachts up to 150ft in length and carry out under cover refit and repair work on existing modern classics with their keels left on.

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 Euan Ross: The Trump-maligned society of inky-fingered hacks received another setback this evening. The Guardian newspaper, ostensibly a champion of fair and truthful reporting, has this to say about a lubberly superyacht currently impounded in Gibraltar. "Sailing Yacht 'A'... Is capable of achieving speeds of 35 knots down wind" and "The masts can withstand 90 knots of wind with full sail up." We trust that this fine vessel will soon put to sea to demonstrate these astounding capabilities in a proper shake-down trial. One can only hope that the shot-gun scatter of nail holes left behind by the Nobiskrug writs don't weaken these hurricane-proof rigs too much!

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Raceboats Only 2016 Clubswan50-003. 'Cuordileone'. 1,240,000 EUR. Located in Villefranche, France.

ClubSwan50: A yacht that is a small revolution in performance and pure sailing pleasure.

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Raceboats Only 2005 Comet 45 - ILVITELLO. 200,000 EUR. Located in Flensburg, Germany.

Composite rocket ship from Comar Yachts. 2005 build and comprehensively optimised in 2008 with new keel, rudder, carbon rig and a funky suit of Banks D4 sails.

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The Last Word
I used to be an atheist, until I realized I had nothing to shout during BJs. "Oh Random Chance! Oh Random Chance!" just doesn't cut it. -- Robert Anton Wilson

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