In This Issue
Last Wave Starts 2017 Transpac And Fleet Is Headed West | One-race Day at ORC Worlds Trieste 2017 | Seahorse Sailor Of The Month | 176 Bound for St Malo | Premier's Gosport Marina selected to host the Volvo Ocean Race this summer | J/80 World Championship | Dunkirk Beckons Again for 40th Tour Voile | Nice Ultimed | Letters to the Editor | Featured Brokerage

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

Last Wave Starts 2017 Transpac and Fleet is Headed West
Merlin at the start. Photo by Doug Gifford/Ultimate Sailing. Click on image for photo gallery.

Merlin Los Angeles, California, USA: Another perfect Southern California summer day yielded perfect conditions for the final wave of 17 fast monohulls and five fast multihulls to set off on their 2225-mile odyssey to the finish in Honolulu of the 2017 Transpac Race. The breeze started at a light 6-8 knots, but quickly built up to 10-12 knots after the start allowing the fleet to speed towards their first - and only - mark of the course at the West End of Catalina.

In this 49th edition of this classic biennial ocean race there is a healthy mix of sentimental favorites - such as Bill Lee's 68-foot Merlin, a boat of his design and build who made its debut exactly 40 years ago to set a course record then and re-write ocean racing design on the West Coast and beyond - and the newest generation record-breakers, such as Jim Clark's 100-footer Comanche. Both were out at the start today, Lee with some of his original 1977 crew, such as Jack Halterman who like Lee is an integral part of Santa Cruz racing history.

On board Merlin at the helm at the start is a current-generation pro sailor at the prime of his game, Morgan Larson, another product of the Santa Cruz scene.

Larson driving Merlin nailed the start at the pin end, well away from Commanche being driven by Ken Read who opted to start closer to Warrior, the LAYC starting vessel, among a crowd of ULDB Sleds which were dwarfed by the size of the big red and black all-carbon rocket ship. Until the advent of the TP 52 design over a decade ago - another design innovation born here on the West Coast - the ULDB sleds and their turbo-charged offspring set the first to finish standards for this race.

Now Comanche is hopeful to have the weather patterns needed to break the existing monohull course record for boats using stored power of 5 days, 14 hours, 36 minutes, 20 seconds, set in 2009 by Neville Crichton's Reichel/Pugh 90 Alfa Romeo II. Navigator Stan Honey, a multiple Transpac winner himself, reckons the odds are 50-50

One-race Day at ORC Worlds Trieste 2017
Trieste, Italy: In another light air day of flat water and breeze never exceeding 8 knots, inshore racing resumed for the second day at the ORC Worlds Trieste 2017. Only one race was held due to the light air, and yesterday's series leaders continued to show their prowess in these conditions and no net change in leadership at the top of Classes A, B and C.

In Class A the top three teams are all Italian, with Vincenzo Onorato's Cookson 50 Mascalzone Latino earning their first win of the series to grab the runner-up position in the standings. Yet Maurizio Poser's Swan 42 Sheraa Yacht Club Hannibal is still dominating the class in corrected time with a 3rd today and a 9 point lead ahead of the pack of 17 boats in this class. On having finished 4th today, Sandro Paniccia's Scuderia 50 Altair 3 remains in third overall one point behind Onerato.

In Class B, Nube, Diego Zanco's X-41 from Croatia remains firmly in the lead, but Renzo Grottesi's Swan 42 Bewild has reached second place and leaves behind their sistership Swan 42 Selene Alifax skippered by Massimo De Campo thanks to their first race win today.

Among the Class C contenders, Alessio Querin's Farr 30 Mummy One Lab Met is still at the head of the standings, but behind then is Giacomo and Franco Loro Piana's fellow Farr 30 Sease, with Aivar Tuulberg's Arcona 340 Katariina II having come up on the lowest step of the podium. On the water, the easiest starts are in Class A, with 17 boats on the line, but in Class B it took three tries to tame the fleet of 49 boats on the line.

Even for Class C, the Race Committee had to endure four attempts to finally make the start of a 50-strong fleet of boats from which Cesare Bressan's Melges 32 Airis was the winner for the second consecutive race.

Friday is expected to be another day of light air and for this reason the Committee decided to postpone the start at 1:00 PM, trusting in the more reliable afternoon winds.

Seahorse Sailor Of The Month
Last Wave Starts 2017 Transpac And Fleet Is Headed West Last month's winner:

Guillaume Verdier (FRA)
If there's one thing Verdier works harder at than drawing the best ocean racers of the current era it is dodging public recognition. Well, mon ami, we got you this time - as did the readers who voted for you. For those who quietly marvelled at the superiority of Team New Zealand's foil solutions and the way that one team had committed so confidently to the wind conditions expected for the final Match look no further than the Kiwi's secret weapon. How many Cup fans even knew the Frenchman wore an All Blacks shirt?

This month's nominees:

Last Wave Starts 2017 Transpac And Fleet Is Headed West Sean Regan (NZL)
Capsize your boat (brutally) one day and win the next (OK, the day after but the boat was ready). The head of Emirates Team New Zealand shore operations, Regan led his team in a typically calm and quiet but still monumental rebuild of the team's single ACC raceboat following their pitchpole racing Ben Ainslie in the qualifying rounds. In fact, the broken carbon was not the biggest problem; try soaking the most complex (and effective) control systems in the fleet

Last Wave Starts 2017 Transpac And Fleet Is Headed West Andrea Mura (ITA)
The Italian sailmaker worked his bits off to build a new Verdier/VPLP Imoca 60 for the Vendee Globe; in fact, his Persico boat may well have been the best-built in the fleet. However, Mura ran out of money, failed to find a sponsor and had to watch as his potential race-winner was dragged around at the back of the fleet by a skipper who admitted he didn't want to be there. But Mura did just win a storm-tossed Transat in his trusty old 50-footer Vento di Sardegna...

Seahorse Sailor of the Month is sponsored by Henri Lloyd, Harken McLube & Dubarry. Who needs silverware, our prizes are usable!

Cast your vote, submit comments, even suggest a candidate for next month at

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176 Bound for St Malo
Start: Friday 7th July. First Warning Signal: 0950, RYS Cowes, to the West.
Cowes - Casquets - Les Hanois - St Malo. Approximately 151 miles.

Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club in association with UNCL, Yacht Club de Dinard, Societe Nautique de la Baie de St. Malo, Junior Offshore Group (JOG) and the Royal Yacht Squadron.

In excess of 1500 sailors, from all over the world, will be competing in the 2017 Cowes Dinard St Malo Race. The largest RORC fleet since the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race, comprising of 176 yachts will be taking part, with 164 racing under the IRC Rating Rule for the magnificent King Edward VII Cup. With a wind direction expected in the westerly quadrant, combined with midsummer air temperature, a glorious downwind race is the likely outcome.

IRC Zero
George David's American Maxi Rambler 88 will be racing with one eye on the clock hoping to better the race record set by Mike Slade's Leopard 3 in 2015 (11 hours 57 minutes and 53 seconds). Rambler 88 is one of ten yachts competing in a highly competitive IRC Zero Class.

James Neville's HH42 Ino XXX, will be hoping to emulate their overall win in the 2017 Myth of Malham. Whilst Edward Broadway's Ker 40 Hooligan VII, and Giles Redpath's Lombard IRC 46 Pata Negra, have the opportunity to take the class lead for the season.

Nick & Suzi Jones's First 44.7 Lisa, skippered by RORC Commodore Michael Boyd, lead the class for the season, and won the Morgan Cup overall in their last race. However, Gilles Fournier's J/133 Pintia is within striking distance of overtaking Lisa, for both the class and overall lead for the RORC Season's Points Championship.

IRC Three
44 yachts are entered, with the vast majority running asymmetric spinnakers, ideal for the predicted reaching conditions. The majority of the 22 Two-Handed teams will be racing in IRC Three/

IRC Four
With 51 entries IRC Four will form an impressive line up as the first to start on the Royal Yacht Squadron Line. The largest class racing to St Malo includes Noel Racine's JPK 10.10 Foggy Dew; class leader for the season and defending class champion for the St Malo Race.

The 176 yacht fleet will be divided into four starts, with the first warning signal at 09:50 BST from the Royal Yacht Squadron Line. -- Louay Habib


Premier’s Gosport Marina selected to host the Volvo Ocean Race this summer
Photo by Billie Weiss / Volvo Ocean Race. Click on image to enlarge.

VOR Fleet Premier Gosport Marina and its specialist boatyard Endeavour Quay have been selected to host the fleet of Volvo Ocean Race yachts, Volvo Ocean 65s in the build up to the Rolex Fastnet Race.

Gosport has been chosen as the host venue for a week of preparation prior to the race start due to its first class facilities, easy access to the Solent and deep water basin. The Volvo Ocean Race teams can also take advantage of the onshore technical facilities available to them at the marina’s specialist boatyard, Endeavour Quay.

Volvo Ocean Race Boatyard Logistics Manager, Abby Ehler said: “The Rolex Fastnet Race will be the first time the Teams line up against each other, so it was important to accommodate the fleet together in the build up to the race. Gosport Marina was our first choice, with its deep water, shoreside facilities and experience with hosting race yachts and events, and not least the historical significance of the harbour and the Whitbread Race, it’s the traditional home of ocean racing.”

From the 31st July to 6th August the teams competing in the 2017-18 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race will be moored at Gosport Marina’s events basin which has in recent years hosted the RC44 Portsmouth Cup and The Clipper Round the World Race fleet.

Tim Newell, Manager at Premier Marinas Endeavour Quay commented: “In the past we’ve often supported the Volvo Ocean Race teams individually here at the boatyard, but it’s great now to team up with Gosport Marina and offer the same great service to the entire fleet - it really cements Gosport’s reputation as THE town to come to for big boat events.”

*The original version of this article cited 8 boats to be on the dock in Gosport however the 8th Volvo Ocean Race team has yet to be announced.

J/80 World Championship
The 16th edition of the J/80 World Championship, is proudly hosted by the Royal Southern Yacht Club. 47 teams from Australia, France, Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Spain will be competing. 14 races are scheduled to take place in The Solent, providing four days of top class racing for a truly world class fleet.

Spain has been the dominate nation in the J/80 World Championships with eight wins, and Rayco Tabares Alvarez has won the title an unprecedented three times, including the last two years. Rayco is no stranger to the Royal Southern Yacht Club, he was tactician for Jose Maria Torcida's J/70, which was runner up for the J/70 Europeans, hosted by the Royal Southern last month. Alavrez's team is one of four Spanish teams competing. Jose Maria Van Der Ploeg won the J/80 Worlds in 2012 and an Olympic Gold Medal for Spain, in the Finn Class in 1992. Pepequin Orbaneja has placed third and fourth in the last two J/80 World Championships, and Javier Chacártegui Cirerol was fifth in 2016.

25 teams from Great Britain will be competing, and hoping to emulate Great Britain's only J/80 World Champion, Ruairidh Scott in 2005.

13 teams from France will be competing including; Eric Brezellec, a former French J/80 National Champion and runner up at the 2016 Worlds.

For live updates from the 2017 J/80 World Championship, including video and pictures from the race course:

Dunkirk Beckons Again for 40th Tour Voile
Click on image to enlarge.

Tour Voile Dunkirk is where the famous Tour de France a la Voile started back on 1st July 1978. Appropriately it is from France’s history steeped North Sea port, just 10km from the Belgian border, that the historic 40th edition of the annual crewed race starts Friday July 7th.

Twenty nine teams are set to compete over 9 Acts culminating in the 2017 Super Final in Nice on 29th July.

The entry of 29 crews from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Spain, Switzerland and Oman represents a record level of participation since the modernisation of the event, stepping in 2015 from the M34 monohull into the Diam 24 one design trimarans.

The change to the strict one design multihull ushered in a revolution in terms of the racing format and objectives. Now each stop city, or Act, comprises one coastal race of around 40 nautical miles complemented by stadium style fleet racing. The fleet is split into two Qualifying Groups, each racing up to six 15 minute qualifying races.  The top four teams from each division face off in one Final race, the winner gaining 50 points, second 49 points and the third 48 point.

After Dunkirk (7-9th July) this year’s Tour de France a la Voile travels to Fécamp (10-11th  July) Jullouville (13-14th  July) Arzon Port du Crouesty (15-16th July), Les Sables d’Olonne (17-18th July), Roses in the north of Spain’s Costa Brava (21-22nd  July), Le Grau du Roi Port Camargue (23-24th July), Marseille (26-27th July) and Nice (28-30th July).

The dominant crew last year was Team Lorina Limonade-Golfe du Morbihan, co-skippered by Quentin Delapierre and Matthieu Salomon.

Nice Ultimed
Nice will host a major sailing event from 28 April to 6 May 2018 - the most grandiose and ambitious such event the capital of the French Riviera has ever hosted: NICE ULTIMED. The XXL boat race will bring the best skippers in the world to the Mediterranean to command the largest racing boats in the world. Ultimate-class trimarans are true giants of the seas, designed to smash records across the oceans.

The idea is to unleash the full potential of these ultra-fast trimarans in these waters while staying as close to the public as possible, so NICE ULTIMED will feature a combined format known as "Off-shore Sprint", a hybrid of off-shore racing and nautical stadium racing. In between the start and the finish of the race in Baie des Anges, the amazing course will put the spotlight on some of the most well-known Mediterranean landmarks.

NICE ULTIMED will be part of Collectif Ultim's calendar and feature the defending champion of the Vendee Globe, Armel Le Cleac'h (Banque Populaire XI), as well as single-handed around the world sailing record holder Thomas Coville (Sodebo) and Yves Le Blevec (Actual), third in the last Transat bakerly. The fourth member of Collectif Ultim, François Gabart (MACIF) will decide whether to take part after his single-handed around the world sailing record attempt, scheduled for next winter, and the subsequent repairs to his trimaran. Other giant trimarans will be on the start list, ensuring a star-studded field which will include Francis Joyon (IDEC Sport), the holder of the Jules Verne Trophy, the around the world record with no restrictions on crew size.

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 George Morris:

As an avid watcher of sailing on my laptop may I observe that the best days of the AC and its precursors from a televisual point of view were the heavy weather ones - Artemis falling apart and charging out of control off the pitch, ETNZ capsizing etc. The final of the WMRT at Marstrand last year was brilliant. The start of the Cape Town leg of the Volvo last time round and Day three (?) of the JJ Giltinan ditto. So many 'extreme' events are sailed in light winds and while they have a certain fascination, 'extreme' they are not. The worst conditions from a televisual point of view are steady winds of 12 knots or so which produce neither spectacle nor surprises. ETNZ ought to be able to find some wind somewhere shouldn't they?

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