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

More Argyll Than Antigua
Photos by Tim Wright. Click on image for photo gallery.

Caribbean 600 After a champagne start to the race there was a huge change in weather conditions by the end of the first day. The low pressure system emanating from the north arrived earlier than anticipated, extinguishing the trade winds to provide a windless night for many competitors.

However, in the early hours of Tuesday morning a highly unusual north westerly wind was effecting the majority of the fleet rounding St.Kitts and Nevis. The arrival of the wind was accompanied by torrential rain - more Argyll & Bute (Scotland) than Antigua & Barbuda! By dawn on the second day, the majority of the monohull fleet were beating to Saba Island to turn downwind towards St. Barth.

In the MOCRA Multihull Class, the two duelling MOD70s are now a distant memory from the rest of the fleet. Giovanni Soldini's Maserati rounded the Barbuda mark less than a minute ahead of Lloyd Thornburg's American Phaedo3 and the two yachts set off on a broad reach to Nevis, hitting 25 knots of boat speed.

However, on Port gybe without a foil, Maserati was unable to shake off the attentions of Phaedo3. Turning upwind at Nevis, the advantage turned towards Phaedo3 who passed Saba Island 22 seconds ahead of Maserati. Phaedo3 continued to pull away from Maserati through the chicane at the top of the course to lead by nearly 10 minutes as they passed Tintamarre Island around Midnight. Both MOD70s experienced light winds for the first part of the leg to Guadeloupe, but once through the windless zone, the two combatants were back to full speed as they both rounded Montserrat to Port. At dawn on the second day of the race, Phaedo3 and Maserati were close together, about to enter the wind shadow of Guadeloupe.

For yachts racing under the IRC Rating Rule, George David's American Maxi, Rambler 88 was leading on the water by 48 minutes at Tintamarre Island, six miles ahead of Mike Slade's British Maxi, Leopard 3. Lionel Pean's French Volvo70, SFS II was third on the water, but leading IRC Canting Keel Class after time correction.

Marc Lepesqueux & Philippe Paturel's Class40, Saint Pierre & Miquelon is estimated to be leading the class from C.n.b. Briand 76, Lilla, sailed by Simon & Nancy De Pietro. Giles Redpath's Lombard 46, Pata Negra is third. With all of the 18 yachts in the class on the leg between Saba and St. Barth at dawn on the second day, there is close racing right through the division.

Ed Fishwick's J/122, Redshift on El Ocaso is estimated to have a slender lead on class champion Scarlet Oyster, skippered by Ross Applebey. At dawn on the second day, Redshift on El Ocaso rounded Saba Island 13 minutes ahead of Scarlet Oyster. Dominic Hurndall's Grand Soleil 43, Jua Kali, was estimated to be third after IRC time correction.

IRC Three
Jonty Layfield's Swan 48, Sleeper X leads the class on the water and after IRC time correction. Sleeper X is estimated to have a handsome three hour lead in the class from Andy Schell & Mia Karlsson's Swan 48, Isbjorn. Peter Hobbs' Sigma 38 Sam, is estimated to be in third position.

Class40 Halvard Mabire and Miranda Merron's Class40, Campagne de France is locked into a close battle for the class with Peter Harding's Ph-orty. The two teams are approaching St. Barth, barely a mile apart, with Campagne de France just in front. Catherine Pourre's Earendil was leading the class during the first night but is now lying in third position. -- Louay Habib

Fleet Tracking

Rich Wilson Takes Thirteenth Place
Photo by Olivier Blanchet / DPPI / Vendee Globe. Click on image to enlarge.

Rich Wilson American skipper Rich Wilson crossed the finish line of the Vendee Globe solo round the world race off Les Sables d'Olonne on the west coast of France this afternoon (Tuesday 21/02) at 1250hrs UTC. From the fleet of 29 boats which started the 27,440 miles singlehanded race from Les Sables d'Olonne on Sunday November 6th, Wilson and Great American IV secure 13th place in an elapsed time of 107 days 48 mins 18 secs.

Wilson, at 66 years old the oldest skipper in the race, successfully completes the pinnacle solo ocean racing event for the second time. He improves his time for the 2008-9 edition of the race, 121 days and 41 minutes by a fortnight, thereby achieving one of the key goals which drew him back to take on the race for a second time.

Whilst racing he also delivered a daily, multi faceted educational programme to over 750,000 young people in more than 55 different countries around the world, another of the fundamental reasons Wilson returned to the Vendee Globe. He becomes the fastest American to race solo non stop around the world, beating the 2004-5 record of Bruce Schwab of 109 days 19 hours.

The hugely experienced American skipper who is a lifelong mariner and a native of Boston,Massachusetts, adds to a remarkable catalogue of achievements under sail over an extraordinary career spanning nearly 40 years, including three record passages including San Francisco to Boston in 1993, New York to Melbourne in 2001, and in 2003 Hong Kong to New York.

Wilson crossed the finish line on a cool February afternoon, emerging from the grey skies of the Bay of Biscay, with scarcely a rope out of place. His Great American IV returned to Les Sables d'Olonne in almost exactly the same, near perfect condition as they left in early November.

Golden Globe Race Hopeful Dismasted Off Chile
Australian sailor Shane Freeman was on his way to the start line of the Golden Globe Race 2018 when his yacht was knocked down

61-year-old Shane Freeman has abandoned his Golden Globe Race dreams after his yacht, Mushka was knocked down and dismasted 300 nautical miles west of Chile.

The Australian was on his way to the race's start line in the UK in his Tradewind 35 class yacht when the incident happened on 18 February 2017.

This is his first major solo voyage.

He has now abandoned the yacht, which has been scuttled to prevent a hazard to navigation, after being rescued by the bulk carrier, Frontier Ambition.

Freeman is currently sailing towards Chile before he begins his journey back to Australia.

The latest post on the Freeman Sailing Facebook page reveals Freeman's rescue from Mushka was far from straight forward, especially as he had opened the seacocks to sink the vessel.

"The seas remained quite large but even so, the captain of the bulk carrier was able to come alongside the disabled yacht like he was "pulling up against a dock". Lines were thrown down by the crew and Shane was able to get a number of bags of personal items up to safety," said the post. -- Katy Stickland

Let The Audience In
Seahorse Magazine Blue Robinson talks to Leon Sefton, head of Volvo Ocean Race TV, about the increasingly complex role of the onboard reporter

Seahorse Magazine: What are your expectations of the onboard reporters this time?

Leon Sefton: For the 2017 edition we are looking for multi-media reporters who are also good storytellers. This is a particularly difficult role to fill, given the complexity of skills the onboard reporters need to bring to the position. They have big shoes to fill, so to make the OBR candidate list the new entrants are going to have to be of a quality to knock existing people out of contention - or at the very least be on a par with their predecessors. They must be outstanding photographers, videographers, interviewers, writers, all-round modern media communicators; plus they need to be able to withstand everything that life onboard a VO65 can throw at them.

SH: Quite a big ask...

LS: It is a big ask, so we designed an application video that targeted people who want to see what lies over the horizon. People who work in media, proven storytellers, people who love this race and want to take part in something big and want to help us dig into the minds of sailors who drive themselves relentlessly - obsessively - to win. Deciding who will get the opportunity to join the OBR team is difficult, partly because we have had so many strong applications; the real test is to send the best candidates offshore, to see how they perform and we have already begun this process.

Full interview in the March issue of Seahorse:

Alex Thomson Confirms 2020 Vendee Globe Bid
Alex Thomson has confirmed he will be taking part in the Vendee Globe in 2020.

The 42-year-old sailor came second in the round the world yacht race last month, beaten by his French rival, Armel Le Cleac'h by 15 hours, 59 minutes and 29 seconds.

Speaking on BBC South Today, Thomson admitted that he asked his wife's permission first before deciding if he would compete again.

"I was third last time, second this time, so there's only one way to go isn't there?" he said.

"But, to do it is a huge commitment and we're seeing if we can get the sponsors and the team back together because the most important thing in the Vendee is the people, and I've been very fortunate to work with some very talented people," he continued.

"If we can get the right team we can challenge," he stressed.

Asked if he would be doing the challenge in the same HUGO BOSS, Thomson said it would depend on a possible race rule change in April.

New Zealand's Big Chance To Make History
Can the Yamaha 18ft Skiff team of David McDiarmid, Matt Steven and Brad Collins become the first New Zealand team in the 79-year history to win the JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship on Sydney Harbour?

The team came within one point of the 2016 winner, Smeg, and are determined to go that one better this year.

It would be a massive boost for the kiwis, who haven't tasted success in the world's premier event for 43 years.

Statistics don't always reflect the true position of an overall situation. New Zealand have won only seven of the 67 JJ Giltinan World 18ft Skiff Championship regattas contested to 2016, the last win by a New Zealand team was in 1974, and no Kiwi team has yet won a championship regatta on Sydney Harbour.

On the surface, certainly not all that impressive, but to dismiss the contribution of New Zealand individuals and teams over the 78-year period since the first regatta on Sydney Harbour in 1938 would be to underestimate some of the most significant developments and achievements in both the class and championship history.

The Kiwi involvement has been total with at least one New Zealand representative competing in each of the 67 JJ Giltinan World Championship regattas held so far.

Yamaha recently won the New Zealand Championship and some locals in Sydney still think the Yamaha team could become the first New Zealand team to win a JJ Giltinan Championship on Sydney Harbour.

The 2017 championship regatta, sponsored by The Winning Group, will be sailed on Sydney Harbour from 25 February to 5 March, inclusive. -- Frank Quealey

Camden Classics Regatta
Classics, Spirit of Tradition and PHRF sailing yachts are invited to participate! Based in Camden the weekend prior to the Eggemogin Reach Regatta, you will be based in the center of the Maine's summer sailing scene.

Two days of racing, followed by equally spirited parties at LM at Wayfarer and Camden Yacht Club are part of the event. Proceeds from the CCC benefit LifeFlight of Maine.

Sign up now for Early Bird rates! NOR is posted and Registration is open!

Gunboats Join The Multihull Class At The 2017 Bvi Spring Regatta
Tortola, British Virgin Islands: With six Gunboats confirmed to race the 2017 BVI Spring Regatta, the competition dial has been seriously notched up. In the line-up are: Gunboat 60 Arethusa, Gunboat 62 Elvis, Gunboat 66 Extreme H2O, Gunboat 60 Flow, Gunboat 60 Momentum, and Gunboat 55 Thirst.

The Gunboat fleet has been racing together for over a decade in the Caribbean, Northeast and Mediterranean. Approximately a third of the 30+ Gunboats in circulation, which range from 48'-90', race competitively, according to Meredith Erickson, Gunboat class co-organizer, and this year the fleet has chosen to participate in the BVI Spring Regatta.

Among the BVI Spring Regatta Gunboat fleet is a diverse range of racing experience as well as boats more optimized than others for racing. Nonetheless, the boats participating see this as a great opportunity to line-up together in optimum conditions for these fast multihulls.

Elvis, owned by Jason Carroll is slated to be the fleet's top contender having regularly cleaned up the playing field over the past few seasons, while Momentum is literally fresh out of the yard. Said Lucky Mike, Momentum boat captain, "Racing? We've only had the main up about half a dozen times..."

Phil Lotz bought Arethusa new just over 18 months ago. She's the first multihull he's owned although he's had smaller boats like a Melges 32 and enjoyed many successes on his Swan 42, including previous BVI Spring Regatta events. Of his new boat, Lotz said, "We decided that the Gunboats were a great cruising platform, fun on a racecourse and importantly, didn't take a lot of people to do either. As well, they are as fast if not faster than a big mono hull."

Lotz says he's still learning the boat and getting up to speed driving, "It seems simple but there's a lot to it. It's a very powerful boat so you don't take anything for granted, but it's fun and it's fast!"

For The Record
The WSSR Council announces the establishment of a 4 new World Records:

Yacht: Sodebo4. 120 ft Trimaran
Name: Thomas Coville. FRA

Record: North Atlantic RTW Intermediate Record. Singlehanded
Dates:.6th November 2016 to the 12th November 2016
Start time: 13;53;02 on 6/11/16
Finish time: 07;04;54 on 12/11/16
Elapsed time: 5 days 17 hours 11 minutes and 52 seconds
Comments: Initial Singlehanded Record

Record: South Indian Ocean RTW Intermediate Record. Singlehanded
Dates:.20th November 2016 to the 29th November 2016
Start time: 18;33;30 on 20/11/16
Finish time: 06;51;17 on 29/11/16
Elapsed time: 8days 12 hours 17 minutes and 47 seconds
Comments: Previous record: IDEC, Francis Joyon, FRA. 18/12/07. 9d 12h 06m

Record: South Pacific Ocean RTW Intermediate Record. Singlehanded
Dates:.29th November 2016 to the 8th December 2016
Start time: 06;51;17 on 29/11/16
Finish time: 01; 20; 02 on 08/12/16
Elapsed time: 8days 18 hours 28 minutes and 45 seconds
Comments: Previous record: IDEC, Francis Joyon, FRA. 28/12/07. 10d 14h 26m

Record: Equator to Equator RTW Intermediate Record. Singlehanded
Dates:.12th November 2016 to the 18th December 2016
Start time: : 07;04;54 on 12/11/16
Finish time: 04;43;43 on 18/12/16
Elapsed time: 35days 21 hours 38 minutes and 49 seconds
Comments: Previous record: IDEC, Francis Joyon, FRA. 10/01/08. 41d 9h 14m

John Reed
Secretary to the WSSR Council

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