In This Issue
Trading blows in the Southern Ocean | Supermaxi Yacht Wild Oats Xi Struck By Lightning | Valencia Hosts European M32 World Base This Winter | Do good | Wight Vodka Best Yachting Bar | Returning to Galway - Fun, Family Friendly Events at SeaFest 2018 | British sailor Ertan Beskardes signs up to compete in the 2018 Golden Globe Race | New York enlist sailing great Dawn Riley to help 2021 America's Cup challenge | German finally makes it to Sydney Hobart | 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

Trading blows in the Southern Ocean
The leaders have put in some big miles over the past 24 hours, while the trailing boats fend of the passage of a front

A little over 2,000 miles now stand between the Volvo Ocean Race pace setters and the Leg 3 finish line in Melbourne - and with just eight miles splitting the first two teams on Tuesday it couldn't be tighter at the top.

At 1300 UTC Dongfeng Race Team still maintained the lead they have enjoyed for the majority of the leg so far, but their ever-present adversaries MAPFRE, in close second, continued to make life difficult for them.

In fact at one point overnight Xabi Fernández's MAPFRE snatched the top spot from Charles Caudrelier's Dongfeng, only to have it wrestled back once more by the next sched.

The endless fight has left both teams exhausted, each wary of their opponents' next move. "After nine days of racing and more than 3,000 miles I have started to hate the red boat of our Spanish friends," Caudrelier said.

"I heard that Xabi is an ex-biking champion, and as we say in France about biking, MAPFRE is 'sucking our wheel' - following all our moves and waiting for an opportunity to attack."

Leg 3 - Position Report - Tuesday 19 December (Day 10) - 13:00 UTC
1. Donfeng Race Team -- distance to finish - 2,151.2 nautical miles
2. MAPFRE +8.0 nautical miles
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing +78.5
4. Team Brunel +104.0
5. Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag +181.5
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic +246.7
7. team AkzoNobel +358.4

Supermaxi Yacht Wild Oats Xi Struck By Lightning
The Oatley family's champion Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race supermaxi, Wild Oats XI, is at the centre of a frenetic repair schedule after it was struck by lightning at the weekend.

It is uncertain at this stage if the yacht will be in full racing trim for the start on Boxing Day. Wild Oats XI was out of the water and in its cradle at Woolwich Dock, on Sydney Harbour, when a bolt of lightning struck the top of the 45-metre high carbon fibre mast during a thunderstorm early Sunday morning.

The 10 million volt-plus discharge from the lightning destroyed a significant number of electronic instruments, all of which are vital if the yacht is to maintain maximum speed and stay on course during the race. What is not known at this stage is if any of the yacht's carbon fibre rigging was damaged by the strike.

"It's a major blow for us on the eve of the big race," said Sandy Oatley. "However, I'm sure our great team will have everything ready for the start on Boxing Day. There is no stopping them." Sandy Oatley was quick to recognise the support offered to Wild Oats XI by Peter Harburg, owner of near sistership, Black Jack. On Harburg's invitation, Wild Oats XI's shore team manager, Paul Magee, flew to Brisbane today to see what equipment existed in Black Jack's warehouse that might replace instruments damaged by the strike.

"That's the spirit that exists in this level of ocean racing," said Sandy Oatley. "We might be arch rivals on the race course, but we're all supportive of each other when necessary."

Another line honours favourite for the Hobart race. Comanche, which was docked alongside Wild Oats XI when the storm struck, was not impacted by the lightning strike. -- Rob Mundle

Valencia Hosts European M32 World Base This Winter
Valencia, Spain: M32 World is setting up base in Valencia to deliver seven events across M32 Academy programs, M32 Series fleet racing and World Match Racing Tour qualifiers as Marina Valencia becomes the home of the high-performance M32 catamarans in Europe this winter. 

The M32 Series Mediterranean will run three events to crown a winter champion by 18th March, with events 19-21st January, 16-18th February and 16-18th March. Sailing in Valencia gives competitors the chance to race on the same course as the 32nd Americas Cup and experience the legacy that was left by the event in the Port America's Cup which will play host to M32 catamarans all winter. M32 Series events in Valencia have been timed with dates of the M32 Miami Winter Series, so competitors wishing to run a full M32 sailing campaign this winter can do so both sides of the Atlantic, with leasing opportunities available at both locations. The February event also runs just ahead of the first World Match Racing Tour qualifier - an opportunity to see some of the World's greatest sailors racing in the M32 catamaran, and with the professionals in town it provides a unique opportunity to pick their brains for top tips at organised social events.

Between the 20-25th February, World Match Racing Tour will take over M32 World to host back-to-back qualifier events for the 2018 Championship season. These two qualifier events will run under the same three-day format as the 2017 season qualifiers. Qualification will be given to the top two teams at each event, with the dates and locations of the 2018 Championship season being announced early next year.

For M32 Academy enquiries or to register for any of the M32 Series or WMRT Valencia events:

Do good
The 2017-2018 Volvo Ocean Race presents different challenges from the last race three years ago: new crew mixes and new strategies prompted by a different course. And then there is the science… Chris Bedford, Simon Fisher and Mark Towill

Seahorse: How did the welcome reintroduction of longer oceanic legs affect the different strategy roles in your team?

Simon Fisher (SiFi): Even though there is more Southern Ocean in this edition I'm not sure we will see a fundamental change in how people approach the race overall. We try to approach each leg in the same way irrespective of length, building a strong strategy where we feel we have confidence in the forecast, and to consider all the potential options. If I feel we have had no surprises out on the water I know we have done a good job onshore!

However, the race is busier than ever in terms of schedule and there is not a lot of down time, so having good shore support is more important than ever. Here at Vestas 11th Hour Racing we are following a path similar to how we worked with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing last time. I am lucky to be surrounded by a strong team with Chris Bedford as our meteorologist once again who works remotely from the US. Anderson Reggio is supporting me on site as a shorebased navigator, involving everything from weather to performance analysis and generally taking stuff off my plate and staying on top of the evolving situation with the weather while we fulfil our obligations on the water. Hopefully it also means I can stay rested and spend a bit of time with my family too! With Vestas as a partner we have access to some additional meteorological resources which makes for an exciting collaboration.

Full interview in the January issue of Seahorse:

Wight Vodka Best Yachting Bar
Voting continues for this, our ninth year of selecting the best bar for sailors in the world.

Here's a festive drink, best accessorised with a Grinch costume and a good sense of humour:

The Happy Elf
1 ounce melon liqueur
2 ounces Wight Vodka
1 ounce white cranberry juice Cherries

Shake with ice in a martini shaker, strain and enjoy...

Then open your wallet, pull out any credit card you haven't already melted into near oblivion... and visit to help the marine industry in the Caribbean, and those who rely on it to feed clothe and shelter their families... get back on their feet for the upcoming season of racing.

Voting for the best bars open until December 29th... Winners announced New Year's Eve.

Returning to Galway - Fun, Family Friendly Events at SeaFest 2018
Returning to Galway in 2018 will be Seafest, Ireland's biggest and most spectacular maritime festival.

For three days SeaFest 2018 take place from from 29th June to 1st July - a weekend of fun, family friendly events not to be missed.

More than 100,000 visitors flocked to Galway Harbour to enjoy a host of activities and entertainment on and around the water for SeaFest 2017. World Champion Flyboarders performed breath-taking aerial acrobatics in the heart of Galway's ship-filled harbour. There were open tours of the tall ship The Phoenix, Irish naval vessel LÉ Ciara, and the Marine Institute's research vessel RV Celtic Explorer. Visitors also took to the water and gave kayaking and sailing a go with the Irish Sailing Association offering disabled access to budding sailors.

BIM and Bord Bia hosted a showcase of Irish seafood with live cookery and fishmongery demonstrations, as well as interactive exhibits and displays of live fish and shellfish species. A huge display from the Defence Forces was popular with the young and the young at heart. The Marquee hosted talks from marine-inspired entrepreneurs based in the West of Ireland.

British sailor Ertan Beskardes signs up to compete in the 2018 Golden Globe Race
Ertan Beskardes now joins Susie Goodall and Robin Davie in flying the flag for Britain in the Golden Globe Race

Ertan Beskardes, 56, is currently refitting his Rustler 36, Lazy Otter, in Fertilia Marina in Sardinia, ahead of the race start in Les Sables-D'Olonne, France on 1 July 2018.

The Turkish-born British national, who is originally from Istanbul, was initially planning to enter the second Golden Globe Race in 2022.

'I have always been self-employed and always wanted to do something special like sail around the world. I first learned about the Golden Globe Race on Facebook in 2017 and thought to enter the second race in 2022, but then learned that there were places available for the 2018 event,' he said.

'I quickly found a Rustler 36 in Sardinia and have just started to prepare her for the race,' added Beskardes, who has been cruising regularly since 1998.

All race competitors must show prior ocean sailing experience of at least 8,000 miles and another 2,000 miles solo in any boat, by 30 April, 2018.

Beskardes is planning to set out on his qualifying solo trip from Sardinia to Falmouth in February.

Entrants are only allowed to use equipment that was available in the very first race – so no GPS or modern technology on board, and Beskardes says he'll use his solo trip to practice his sextant.

Beskardes will join Susie Goodall and Robin Davie as the UK entrants in the race.

Goodall, who at 28 is one of the youngest skippers taking part, is now also the only woman in the race, following the withdrawal of 51-year-old Brazilian Izabel Pimentel due to a lack of sponsorship.

New York enlist sailing great Dawn Riley to help 2021 America's Cup challenge
The New York Yacht Club has enlisted the help of women's sailing great Dawn Riley to help find talent for their America's Cup campaign.

Riley, who has contested four America's Cups and two round the world races, will join the return of the competition's oldest competing club who are back in the game for Auckland 2021 after an 18-year absence.

Riley runs an academy at Oakcliff Sailing and reached out to Terry Hutchinson, the CEO of the New York challenge ,when she heard of his desire to have the best American sailors on board and create a Cup legacy as he lamented the lack of direct US involvement in the sport's premier event.

Oakcliff Sailing was founded in 2010, by sailors and philanthropists Hunt and Betsy Lawrence, with the express purpose of raising the calibre of sailing in the US.

Riley's talent search won't be restricted to crew. She knows what is required on and off the water to make a successful syndicate and her recruiting will look to cover all aspects of the campaign.

Riley, 53, a world champion One Ton Cup sailor, was involved in the 1995 America's Cup when she headed the Mighty Mary campaign that included New Zealand oLYMPICS star Leslie Egnot.

Riley's America's Cup history also includes sailing the 2000 regatta in Auckland.

Riley's involvement further signals the seriousness of the New York challenge who will have their prospective crew active in next year's TP52 Super Series, the world's premier monohull championship they see as an ideal sailing tool ahead of the launch of their 75-foot foiling Cup monohull.

German finally makes it to Sydney Hobart
A German sailor who goes back to the Alan Bond era is about to undertake his first Sydney Hobart at the age of 55 on a boat he's never raced.

Christopher Opielok, a two-time Admiral's Cup winner has dreamt of contesting the iconic Australian ocean race for more than 30 years.

While he's a mature age Sydney Hobart rookie Opielok has got the approval of his family to do the race on his recently acquired TP52.

"They know that I'm mad so the time was right to do it now and they pushed me to do it," Opielok,told AAP.

Opielok has sailed against yachting legends like Dennis Connor and Jim Bertrand and had expected to make his Sydney Hobart debut long before this year.

"I worked as a boat captain at the Admiral's Cup for many years and they promised 'look guys, we're doing this (the Sydney Hobart), but first we win the (America's) Cup'," Opielok said.

"We met Alan Bond and his crew and all these famous Aussies and they were telling us about Bass Strait and the Sydney to Hobart, so we got excited and next year ... nothing."

Opielok lived in Perth from 2009-12 and will have seven Australians in the multi-national crew of his boat, the latest of three he's owned that he's called Rockhall.

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 Butch Dalrymple Smith:

In answer to Berngt O. Hult, for the Volvo Ocean Race the race instructions specifically modify Rule 51 in the sailing instructions. They permit the movement of unused sails provided they are stowed below deck and are confined to the middle of the boat, though only the standard retaining arrangements are allowed. This is a pragmatic response to the overwhelming temptation of bending rule 51 and leaving crews having to establish their own interpretation of where their unused sails should be stowed. "By pure coincidence" this would likely happen to be on the windward side.

Perhaps in future on-board filming will reach the stage where sail stowage could be remotely monitored by race headquarters by day and night, but we are not there yet.

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