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

Another Monster Fleet
The world's largest, most prestigious offshore sailing event will take place this summer in the UK with the 47th running of the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Some offshore yacht races struggle for entries, but the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial flagship event is not one of them. When the entry list opened on 9 January, spaces sold out faster than a Rolling Stones farewell concert; the 340 boat limit reached, incredibly, in just 4 minutes and 24 seconds. And this figure excludes the non-IRC fleets which will include a giant international turn out of Class40s and significantly, will be the first occasion the eight VO65s, set to compete in this year's Volvo Ocean Race, will line up in anger.

When the Rolex Fastnet Race set sails from Cowes on Sunday 6th August, close to 400 boats will make up the combined IRC and non-IRC fleets - the largest ever entry in the race's 92 year history and a significant step-up from 356 in the last race.

So why is the race so successful? "It is within easy access for the largest fleets of offshore-capable yachts anywhere in the world," succinctly explains Nick Elliott, Racing Manager of the RORC.

The Rolex Fastnet Race is one of the world's oldest offshore races, but the 605 mile course represents much the same challenge today as it did to competitors 90+ years ago: Typically an upwind westbound slog along the south coast of England, then full exposure to the open Atlantic Ocean on the crossings to the Fastnet Rock (lying four miles off southwest Ireland) and back, before leaving Bishop Rock and the Scilly Isles to port, en route to the finish off Plymouth.

Some of the world's most prominent grand maxis will be competing in the main IRC fleet. The longest is the Judel Vrolijk 115 Super Maxi, Nikata, while Ludde Ingvall is bringing his radical DSS-equipped 100 footer CQS all the way from Australia and one of the race favourites will certainly be George David's Rambler 88, that just missed out on line honours in 2015.

But making up the bulk of the IRC fleet are the Corinthian entries.

A lot are crewed by families and friends or yacht club teams, many of whom come back year after year.

The 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race sets sail from the Royal Yacht Squadron line to the north of Cowes at 1200 BST on 6th August.

Copa Brasil De Vela
Brazil's most important sailing event came to an end last weekend in Porto Alegre. The fourth edition of the Brazil Sailing Cup (Copa Brasil de Vela) wrapped up on Saturday, the last day of competition in the waters of the Guaiba Lake for all Olympic classes, plus kitesurfing, 29er and 420.

The event crowned the year's national winners for every division, as follows: Carlos Robles and Marco Grael (49er), Jorge Zarif (Finn), Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Barbachan (470 W), Geison Mendes and Gustavo Thiesen (470 M), Patrícia Freitas (RS: X W), Albert de Carvalho (RS: X M), João Pedro Oliveira (Laser Std), Gabriella Kidd (Laser Radial), Isabel Swan and Samuel Albrecht (Nacra 17), Andre Fiuza and Pedro Zonta (420), Lorenzo Bernd and Philipp Rump (29er), Roberto Veiga (Kitesurfing Foil), Eduardo Fernandes (Kitesurfing Tubular).

Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze, 49er FX gold medalists in the 2016 Rio Olympics, took part in a star-studded fleet in the 49er competition. They finished third right behind Olympic sailing legend Robert Scheidt, who was competing for the first time in Brazil in his new class. Scheidt proved to be coming up strong in the division by taking silver medal alongside Gabriel Borges. Marco Grael and Carlos Robles secured gold after building the lead early in the week.

Copa Brasil de Vela featured over 100 sailors from five different countries, awarding points for the World Sailing rankings (France's Marie Bolou took gold in Laser Radial). It was organized by the Brazilian Sailing Federation (CBVela), with Bradesco Bank as its main sponsor and Clube dos Jangadeiros and Veleiros do Sul as organizing partners.

Full results

Sharepoint Developer
RYA Jobs The RYA is primarily a National Governing Body and membership organisation, delivering services to members, clubs, training centres and other associated groups. We are looking for an enthusiastic Developer to assist in the development of RYA websites and business applications.

Working as part of a small friendly team, under the supervision of the Lead Developer, the successful candidate will complete development work to agreed timescales. They will assist in the development and support of a wide range of web based systems.

The ideal candidate will be highly self-motivated with excellent communication skills and have practical skills and experience based around Microsoft technologies specifically; .NET, SharePoint (with C#) and IIS. An understanding and practical experience any of the following would be an advantage, but not essential:

- Microsoft Dynamics NAV
- BizTalk Server
- Agile project management
- Commerce Server
- Team Foundation Server (TFS)

The role offers an excellent opportunity to expand your knowledge and skill set working in a highly experienced and motivated team.

Salary: DOE 35 hours per week.

Range of benefits including free parking, pension scheme, free life insurance, 25 days annual leave plus public holidays.

Closing date for applications: 2 April 2017

To apply please visit to review the job description and complete an application form and equal opportunities monitoring form.

All applicants should hold valid permission to live and work in the UK in accordance with the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996.

The RYA is committed to equality of opportunity

OK Dinghy European Championship
Online entry has opened for the 2017 OK Dinghy European Championship in Faarborg, Denmark. Remarkably, it is the first time that Denmark has hosted the European Championship, and Faarborg Sejlklub is very excited at the prospect of holding the 2017 championship in its waters.

Entry is also open to the Coaches Regatta that will immediately precede the European Championship, giving the sailors a chance to learn the skills of some of the best OK Dinghy sailors in the world.

Faaborg is an old port town located on Faaborg Fjord, where the racing will be held, on the island of Funen, the middle of the three landmasses that make up Denmark. With its busy port, narrow streets and attractive old houses, the town is popular with tourists, especially in the summer.

Held at the end of July, the event is expected to attract a large number of participants. With the World Championship being held in Barbados in May, those who cannot make the journey to the Caribbean are looking at the Europeans as the main event of the season.

The week of OK fun begins on Sunday 23 July when the camping will open.

Then on Monday, there will be a unique coached regatta with some top sailors jumping into a RIB and giving advice to the fleet. So far Charlie Cumbley (2015 Spring Cup Winner), Greg Wilcox (2002 World Champion), Thomas Hansson-Mild (2010 World Champion), Stefan Myralf (Former World Ranked No. 2) and Andrew Rushworth are lined to provide some expert coaching and advice. Depending on the interest, extra sessions may also be laid on Sunday afternoon.

A practice race is then scheduled for Tuesday 25 July, before the Championship begins on Wednesday 26 July with 10 races scheduled over four days.

WADA Launches "Speak Up"
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) launched Speak Up!, a new, secure digital platform intended for athletes and others to report: alleged Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) under the World Anti-Doping Code (Code); non-compliance violations under the Code; or, any act or omission that could undermine the fight against doping in sport.

The Speak Up! platform includes a secure app for iPhone and Android phones, currently available in beta version on the App Store and Google Play.

Anyone who detects, identifies, witnesses, knows of or has reasonable grounds to suspect that cheating has occurred, is encouraged to Speak Up! It is however important to note the distinction between an informant and a whistleblower as these statuses do trigger different rights and responsibilities. Any person reporting misconduct to WADA will be considered an informant. The informant may decide not to pursue further cooperation with the Agency once they have provided information. An informant can however become a whistleblower if they wish to further cooperate with WADA. In this case, a whistleblower agreement is signed between WADA and the informant, which offers additional rights as outlined within WADA's Whistleblower Program and Policy (PDF).

In November 2016, WADA's Foundation Board approved the organization's new Whistleblower Program and Policy, which formalizes the legal framework and outlines what the Agency will provide in terms of: support, confidentiality, protection, and reward; as well as, the way to go about raising concerns and how they would be investigated by WADA.

Seahorse April 2017
What's in the Latest Edition Of Seahorse Magazine

Seahorse Magazine

Design - Visible elements of modernity
The Figaro3 brings with it a completely new approach to the concept of the foil-assisted monohull. Jocelyn Bleriot talks with designer Vincent Lauriot-Prevost and with builder Gianguido Girotti

A complex subject - Part I
The connected issues of coaching, RIBs and independence finally get the airing they deserve. Jonathan Mckee, Victor Kovalenko and Rob Kothe

Around again
Those VO65s do not have an easy life... Blue Robinson talks to the man in charge of the fleet Nick Bice about preparing for another lap

ORC column - A brave new Worlds
The event horizon is changing. Plus things that go splash in the night... Dobbs Davis

Special rates for Scuttlebutt Europe subscribers:
Seahorse Print or Digital Subscription Use Discount Promo Code SB2

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An Historic J Class Season
As the six J Class crews assembled in St Barths anticipate the historic, competitive season ahead, working up towards the twin peaks represented by the America's Cup J Class regatta in Bermuda in June and the J Class World Championship in Newport Rhode Island, there will be a significant extra edge evident over the four days of competition.

Seven J Class yachts are expected to line up on the start lines in Bermuda and in Newport. Six, Hanuman, Lionheart, Ranger, Shamrock, Topaz and Velsheda, are starting their race season in Saint Barths and will race a special programme consisting of three windward-leewards and two round the island style passage races.

Saint Barths hosted five J Class yachts in 2013 when Hanuman completed a clean sweep, winning every race. Five yachts last raced at the 2014 Superyacht Cup Palma in Mallorca when Lionheart won.

Following a refit which includes a new rig this will be the first regatta since 2014 for Hanuman which has Ken Read as skipper-helm and a crew which includes Stan Honey as navigator. Bouwe Bekking leads the Lionheart crew which has raced and trained consistently at the main European regattas to keep making improvements towards Bermuda.

"We are a little rusty." Admits Hanuman's Read. "The boat is in great shape. Greg Sloat, the boat captain, took a pretty substantial list about a year and a half ago and has pulled it all off. The mast and boom are the big ticket items which we hope will make a difference. But the rest of it is a million little things. You are not trying to hit a home run, but a whole bunch of singles. The boat is going well but we have not raced in a long while and so that is why we are here to practice."

"Jim and Kristy (the owners Jim and Kristy Clark) are the two most competitive people I have ever met in my life. They never do things half assed, they do things to succeed and that spreads down the hierarchy of the programme. So we are hoping for success."

"These boats are beasts to get around the race course." Read highlights, "We are looking to the podium and then go from there. We are lacking sailing time."

"This season is historic. It is going to be great for sailing. It will be historic to get these six boats on the start line."

The five race no-discard series comprises two windward-leeward races Thursday and Friday when the J Class fleet race on their own course area. Saturday and Sunday the J Class join the Superyacht fleet for the Round the Islands courses but have their own start.

Bill Ficker
William P 'Bill' Ficker, best known as the skipper of Intrepid in the controversial 1970 America's Cup has died at the age of 89 years.

One of USA's most distinguished sailors, Bill Ficker was a winner of the America's Cup, a Star World Champion and the winner of the Congressional Cup.

The 1970 America's Cup Match will always be remembered for the start line collision in Race 2, between Gretel II (Australia) and Intrepid, as the Australians under starting helmsman Martin Visser attempted to close out the room they had left astern of the starting vessel, Incredible.

A word play on his name began in the 1970 US Defence Trials when Intrepid in 1970 after being the skillful co-skipper of Columbia in the 1967 Defence Trials - prompting the production of buttons and stickers proclaiming that 'Ficker is Quicker'.

Although he has sailed in many other classes, both on and offshore, Bill always maintains close contacts with the Stars. He was a member of the Technical Committee from its inception in 1965 through 1968.

Bill Ficker was admitted to the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 1993 as one of the first group of inductees, and last year to the US Sailing Hall of Fame.

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 Brent Isaacson: I read Sir Robin's comments on the danger of uncontrolled gybes and the use of a Foreguy (Preventer) in his safety document with great interest. I have been researching and toying with a variety of designs to address this. My suggestion which needs validation and testing by professionals is to rely on hydraulics to provide a controlled movement of the boom:

The layout would be similar to a drum style boom brake, but at the heart instead of a rope around a drum, the line would go through one or more restrictive sheaves. The sheaves would be connected to a hydraulic pump which would pump the oil directly from the outlet to the inlet of the pump with just a valve in the tube. Adjusting the valve would adjust the load/ speed with which the line could move through the sheaves. The load would cause the oil to heat up but the short duration of the pumping (one tack or gybe) should limit any adverse impact from the heating. The effect is similar to that achieved by the shock absorber in a car.

This arrangement would be left permanently attached to the boom and permit the boom to move at speed fast enough to allow an umimpeded tack - say 15- 30 seconds through the tacking range, but then the same speed would provide a controlled movement of the boom through a gybe.

The advantage of hydraulics is that its easy to adjust resistance and not needing to rely on the (imprecise) adjustment of tension on the line as is the case in a traditional drum style boom brake which needs to be tuned for different wind speeds.

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For racing Earlybird is equipped with a complete set of 3Di racing sails, various training sails, upgraded deck gear, running rigging and various customized details. The 20ft container consist lots of spare parts. Earlybird is ready to compete again in the 2017 Swan 45 circuit.

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