In This Issue
SSL FInals: Defending champions edge ahead | Battles in the RORC Transatlantic Race | Pay to Play at Antigua Sailing Week | Justin Ferris and Alex Pella join team AkzoNobel for double points Southern Ocean leg | Enter the Dragon: China eyes America's Cup entry | Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint | Wight Vodka Best Yachting Bar Competition | Freides Wins 2017/18 Melges 20 Miami Winter Series Season Opener | Prepare for Take Off at the Datchet Flyer | Irish Sailing Finds Its Soul In Clontarf & The IDRA 14 Dinghy | 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

SSL FInals: Defending champions edge ahead
Despite a second light day that perhaps should have favoured the lighter crews, US heavyweights Mark Mendelblatt and Brian Fatih posted a solid 1-2 on day three of the Star Sailor's League Final off Nassau to take the lead overall.

In truth, the US occupation of the top spot was equally down to the impressively consistent Brazilian Olympic legend Robert Scheidt and Henry Boening vacating it after an uncharacteristic error when they hooked the weather mark and had to carry out a penalty turn in today's second race. This resulted in a 19th place finish and, despite discarding this, the Brazilians are now second, trailing Mendelblatt/Fatih by eight points.

The first race got away successfully under a black flag on its second attempt. This still caused Poles Kusznierewicz/Zycki and the two veteran crews of Szabo/Natucci and Diaz/Sperry to be disqualified - especially costly for the Poles, who were OCS in yesterday's second race.

Aside from Mendelblatt/Fatih, the day belonged to the two Italian teams. Francesco Bruni has been out of the Star class for more than a decade, his previous campaign including a seventh place at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Coming into the Star Sailors League Finals he had had just one day of training and yet today he managed to post a 4-1.

On Friday up to three races can be held in this Qualifier round and all of the 25 crews will be gunning to make the top 10 that will enable them to progress through to the final rounds of racing on Saturday.

Battles in the RORC Transatlantic Race
21 yachts are still racing in the RORC Transatlantic Race. At 0800 UTC on the 13th day, Jochen Bovenkamps's Marten 72 Aragon was 273 miles from the finish and estimated to arrive at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina around midnight local time on Thursday 7th December. The ETA for Teasing Machine, Sorceress and Outsider is Friday 8th December.

Line Honours winner, Ludde Ingvall's Australian Maxi CQS will be awarded the International Maxi Association (IMA) Transatlantic Trophy later today. CQS has also set the IRC corrected time to beat for the RORC Transatlantic Race Trophy. In IRC Zero, Eric de Turckheim's French Nivelt-Muratet 54 Teasing Machine is expected to finish well inside the required time to lead the race overall.

In IRC One, three German yachts, just over 1,000 miles from the finish in Grenada, are vying for the class win: Björn Woge's Andrews 56 Broader View Hamburg, Friedrich Boehnert's Xp50 Lunatix, and von Eicken and Brockhausen's Swan 56 Latona. All three yachts have fathers and sons on board; Latona has three generations of the von Eicken Family.

Pay to Play at Antigua Sailing Week
Antigua Sailing Week Warm seas, consistent trade winds, challenging round the buoys racing and the best shoreside parties in the Caribbean sum up the phenomenon that is Antigua Sailing Week. Preceded by the optional Peters & May Round Antigua Race featuring 52 nm of perfect pre-ASW tune-up, ASW offers five days of racing off Antigua's south coast, interrupted by a beach day. It's a regatta not to miss.

Classes include Racing, Cruising, Multihull, Bareboat and Club Class. Daily prize givings at Antigua Yacht Club are legendary as is the final awards party hosted in historic UNESCO-accredited Nelson's Dockyard.

Pay to Play options are available for all skill levels. Bareboat options are available through official sponsor Dream Yacht Charter and race charter options are offered by a number of individual companies. There is still time to activate your team for ASW 2018 taking place at the end of April.

Justin Ferris and Alex Pella join team AkzoNobel for double points Southern Ocean leg
Team AkzoNobel has announced Spanish offshore sailing star, Alex Pella and three-time Volvo Ocean Race veteran, Justin Ferris in its line-up for the third leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18.

Ferris (NZL) and Pella (ESP) - will join the team AkzoNobel crew for the 12,000-kilometer double points leg from Cape Town, South Africa through the wilds of the Southern Ocean to Melbourne, Australia, starting this Sunday December 10.

Australian Luke Molloy - who sailed the first and second legs - and Dutchman Peter van Niekerk - who joined the crew for Leg 2 - will both be rested for Leg 3 as part of the team's crew rotation strategy.

Leg 3 will see the seven-boat Volvo Ocean Race fleet take on for the first time in this edition of the race the remote and icy waters at the bottom of the world known as the Southern Ocean.

Prior to the start of Leg 3 on Sunday December 10, on Friday December 8 the team AkzoNobel sailors - including newcomers Ferris and Pella - will line up against the six other Volvo Ocean Race crews for the Cape Town heat of the in port race series.

In port races do not count towards the overall points tally but the in port race series result could be used to split a final points tie at the end of the race. On Wednesday this week team AkzoNobel finished third in a practice in port race sailed in breezy conditions on Table Bay.

The start of Leg 3 is scheduled for 1400 local time in Cape Town (1200 UTC/1300 CET) on Sunday when strong winds are forecast for the opening night as the crews pass the Cape of Good Hope - the final landfall for around 18 days until they arrive in Melbourne shortly after Christmas Day.

Team AkzoNobel crew list for the Cape Town in port race and Leg 3 from Cape Town to Melbourne:

Simeon Tienpont (NED) - skipper
Brad Farrand (NZL)
Justin Ferris (NZL)
Martine Grael (BRA)
Emily Nagel (GBR/BER)
Chris Nicholson (AUS)
Alex Pella (ESP)
Jules Salter (GBR)
Nicolai Sehested (DEN)

Enter the Dragon: China eyes America's Cup entry
In an animated flyover of the proposed 2021 America's Cup village in Auckland, the flag of China is unfurled on the roof a sailing team base.

While it's only a drawing of what might be, China could well be on the verge of entering the America's Cup. And if they do, New Zealand will have played a major role in getting the nation there.

Sailing in China is booming right now, and Kiwis are having a hand in its growth.

China has professional sailors, but mostly in Olympic classes. "Golden Lily" Lijia Xu - who won gold at the London Olympics in the Laser Radial dinghy - is an ambassador for ChinaOne Ningbo.

The country has had an entry in the America's Cup before - racing in the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup in Valencia, where their solitary win was over Oracle Racing. Then Robertson, just 25 at the time, skippered Team China in the 2012 America's Cup World Series. But the team didn't survive through to the 2013 Cup in San Francisco.

CraigMonk believes China could challenge for the Auld Mug again: "They could do it in a heartbeat. They certainly have the finances and resources to do it. But it's just not as important to them as it is to us yet. It will still take a little while to get people to understand what the America's Cup stands for."

An entry in the following America's Cup - especially if it was retained by Team NZ - would be far more realistic, Monk says. "They have the talent, but it's just time. The America's Cup is definitely on their horizon." -- Suzanne McFadden

Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint
The Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint is in full swing on day 5 of Race 4: The ClipperTelemed+ Tasman Test, and the racing remains as close as ever.

Qingdao has continued its incredible rise in the rankings, with the team now in in the lead, despite sitting in last place just three days ago. But with just 32 nautical miles separating first from seventh, Qingdao Skipper Chris Kobusch says: "Since the start of the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint, we really have been sprinting.

"It is absolute champagne sailing and with Garmin and Visit Seattle in AIS range, everyone is on their toes trying to make the boat go as fast as possible. The last three position reports were great for us, indicating we had top average speeds within the fleet over the past 18 hours.

"But Sanya Serenity Coast, Visit Seattle, and Garmin are all within 10 nautical miles of us, so it is as close as ever."

Visit Seattle remains in second place for the third consecutive day and just like her Qingdao counterpart, Skipper Nikki Henderson is keeping a watchful eye on the competition as the eastern gate of the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint draws closer, reporting: "This is definitely the closest sprinting we have ever done.

Clipper Race Meteorologist Simon Rowell has positive tidings on day 5, reporting: "It's all looking pretty good for the next few days, and the fleet will be in solid breeze, though not anything monstrous, as the teams go over the relatively shallow squeeze point for current round the bottom of Tasmania."

Wight Vodka Best Yachting Bar Competition
Wight Vodka Best Yachting Bar Competition In Support of SailAid UK

Today's featured bar:
Admiral's Inn, English Harbour Antigua

Here's what makes it so great...
Cool, Calm, Beautiful and Historic.

Good enough for Lord Nelson and good enough for me. It's the home of Gig racing in Antigua Classics and it feels like a private club at other times. Since my first visit in 1968 it's been my favourite place in the Caribbean.

Tonight's vintage Vodka cocktail:

The Tucc' Of Class
Created and named for the delightful actor Stanley Tucci.

Fill a tumbler with ice - the larger the cubes, the better. Add 20ml Wight vodka, 20ml Cynar*, 20ml triple sec and stir together until very cold. Add 2-4 drops of orange bitters. Stir again. Garnish with an orange slice and serve. Stylishly.

* Your humble narrator had to look this one up: An Italian bitter liqueur made from 13 herbs and plants. Predominant amongst these is the artichoke (Cynara scolymus), from which the drink derives its name.

Just one week left to nominate your favourite yachtie bar: this year there will be two awards, one for best in the Caribbean, one for best elsewhere.

Freides Wins 2017/18 Melges 20 Miami Winter Series Season Opener
For the first event of the 2017/18 Melges 20 Winter Series, Miami was about as near perfect as a sailor could want with breeze in the 10-13 kt range, smooth water and sunny, warm temps. Throw in a ultra deep fleet with eight awesome races and it was easy to see why Melges 20 sailors wore satisfied, sunbaked smiles at the awards ceremony.

After two days and six races, Drew Freides' PACIFIC YANKEE led a deep fleet with several teams ready to pounce on the final day. The wind direction was similar the first two days, however the velocity was in the 6-8kt range and flat water; perfect 'blue groomer' conditions for the last two races. With a stronger northerly gradient fighting a building Northeast seabreeze, it was a toss up as to which side would pay in the first race.

With a fourth place finish, Freides locked up the regatta win

Top Five Results (Final - After Eight Races, One Discard)
1. Drew Freides, Pacific Yankee, USA, 28
2. Igor Rytov, Russian Bogatyrs, RUS, 33
3. Vladimir Prosikhin, Nika, RUS, 41
4. Yurri Morozov, Russotrans, RUS, 44
5. Achille Onorato, Mascalzone Latino Jr., ITA, 45

Full results

Melges World League results:

Prepare for Take Off at the Datchet Flyer
The Datchet Flyer looks set for a windy weekend, when round two of the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series takes place on 9 & 10 December. Online entry closed end of Thursday 7 December, although there's still a possibility of entering on the day provided the entry limit hasn't been reached.

The forecast suggests moderate breezes from the west for the handicap races on Saturday, but big westerly winds are on the cards for Sunday's Pursuit Race. This could favour local Contender maestro, Stuart Jones, who knows the water and knows how to get the best out of this challenging singlehanded trapeze boat.

Turner James from Shoreham SC is the first winner of the use of an RS Aero, and the 49er sailor will be giving the popular singlehanded hiking boat a go at Datchet this weekend. Competition will be hot among the Merlin Rockets with one of the latest entries being Ben McGrane crewed by Christian Humphries.

Ian Dobson, crewed by Gemma Dobson, has won events in the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series before, as well as becoming outright champion a couple of years back. Even though the hiking boats tend to struggle against the trapeze boats in strong winds, Dobson is a GP14 World Champion and has beaten the faster boats in strong breeze before.

Irish Sailing Finds Its Soul In Clontarf & The IDRA 14 Dinghy
Click on image to enlarge.

IDRA 14 Far-sighted people like Douglas Heard and Billy & Jimmy Mooney in Dun Laoghaire in November 1945 set in train the movement which became the Irish Dinghy Racing Association, and in so doing they reached out to other clubs nationwide in mutual support with fellow-enthusiasts.

The flagship of the new Association became the IDRA 14, developed from a design by an Irish naval architect working in England, George O'Brien Kennedy. His period of working across the water was later fondly recalled by fellow yacht designer David Thomas, who used to say that Brian - as everyone knew him - would come up with more innovative boat ideas in a morning than the rest of the office produced all week.

Admittedly some of his ideas were frankly crazy. But in developing the design of the clinker-built IDRA 14 from a boat he'd designed for his own use in 1938 but whose possible expansion as a class was stymied by World War II in 1939, he produced an eminently sensible design which not only suited Irish needs at the time, but was also later successfully used in slightly modified form at three English sailing centres.

One of the clubs which immediately embraced the new Irish boats with huge enthusiasm was Clontarf Yacht & Boat Club, and it has remained such a stronghold of the class that the very newest IDRA 14, Wicked Sadie number 166, was timber built in classic style in a shed out the back of the club by a team co-ordinated by Rowan Melling, a two year project which reached it successful conclusion to considerable acclaim with Sadie's Gala Launching at Clontarf on June 25th 2016.

The very first boats were built nearby in 1946, just across the Tolka Estuary from Clontarf in Jem Kearney's boatyard at Dublin's East Wall. A brother of the noted yacht designer and builder John Kearney, Jem was something of a rough diamond, but those who worked with him or learned something of the skills from his boat-building classes thought very highly of him and his work.

W.M. Nixon in Afloat:

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