In This Issue
Team AkzoNobel leads fleet out of Hong Kong towards Auckland | Time for Transparency is Now | What's in the Latest Edition Of Seahorse Magazine | Oyster Yachts in liquidation | 'T1' berths for the final time at the Classic Boat Museum in Cowes | IRC certificates show positive start for 2018 | Questions with... Olivier Racoupeau | Not sailing but... wow... just wow... | Vale John Channon | 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

Team AkzoNobel leads fleet out of Hong Kong towards Auckland
Skipper Simeon Tienpont's team AkzoNobel led the Volvo Ocean Race fleet away from the Hong Kong start line on Monday morning as Leg 6 got underway.

Racing started in a light, 8-10 knot easterly with AkzoNobel, SHK/Scallywag, and Team Brunel the first across the line, slipping upwind under full sail, with the spectator fleet in tow.

But shortly after clearing land, the wind started to increase to 15-20 knots, and the enormous Code 0 sails were furled in favour of smaller headsails. Conditions are forecast to deteriorate further over the next 24 hours.

With a Tropical Cyclone forecast to produce heavy sea conditions, race officials have added a Tropical Storm Exclusion Zone, extending across 20 degrees of longitude to the east of the Philippines.

Most weather routing software suggests the fastest route is to the north and east of the exclusion zone but this will ensure the fleet avoids the worst of the sea conditions.

Leg of the Volvo Ocean Race will take the fleet through the Luzon Strait and then on an easterly heading before the boats dive south through the Doldrums and then southeast to the northern tip of New Zealand.

Leg 6 - Position Report - Wednesday 7 February (Day 1) - 06:00 UTC
1. Team Brunel -- distance to finish - 5433.7 nautical miles
2. team AkzoNobel +0.0
3. Dongfeng Race Team +0.2
4. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag +0.4
5. MAPFRE +0.5
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic +1.1
7. Vestas 11th Hour Racing - DID NOT START

Time for Transparency is Now
As the Volvo Ocean Race teams were on the final approach to the Leg 4 finish line in Hong Kong, the race organizers knew the peril they would face. These chaotic waters were well documented, filled with all forms of fishing boats that don't show up on navigational tools.

The race has had stops in China since the 2008-9 contest, and while no collisions had previously occurred, tearing through fishing gear had proven to be a problem. But now returning for the fourth time, this accident waiting to happen... happened.

At 1:23am local time, fire-hose reaching at 20 knots, limiting visibility aboard the groaning 65-foot vessel, with only 30 nm to the finish, Vestas 11th Hour Racing collided with a fishing boat, sinking the boat, tossing the 10 onboard into the ocean, resulting in nine rescues and one fatality.

Sadly, this kind of incident is not uncommon. On the same day as the Vestas incident, a collision between a cargo vessel and a fishing boat sank the boat and led to one confirmed fatality and seven missing people.

Regardless of how frequent these types of events are in Asia, they are not common in our sport. It is vital for information to be shared so that gains can be made. However, both race organizers and the team have not been forthcoming. Oddly, little mention has even been made about the significant damage to the race boat.

Craig Leweck's editorial in our beloved sister publication:

Seahorse February 2018
What's in the Latest Edition Of Seahorse Magazine

Seahorse Magazine

Single-purpose tightly focused mile muncher
The demand for dual-purpose yachts suitable for small crews is growing. The demand for fast yachts is always growing

A suitable new home
The Gunboat brand helped invent a new genre of multihull sailing. Now that brand has found its perfect spiritual home

Seahorse build table - Busy times
And Finot-Conq are back in the raceboat business

ORC - Late to the party
Tom Humphreys

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Oyster Yachts in liquidation
Leading UK sailing yacht brand Oyster Yachts has gone into liquidation. The reasons for the crash are not yet known but around 150 jobs are thought to be at risk.

A statement on the yacht builders website from CEO David Tydeman says: 'It is with sincere regret that we advise that the Company has been unable to secure financial support to enable it to continue to trade at this time and it is looking at all opportunities available. Further information will be issued as soon as we can'.

'T1' berths for the final time at the Classic Boat Museum in Cowes
Land Rover BAR, the British America's Cup Challenger and team to bring the Cup home, have donated their first test boat 'T1', a foiling AC45 catamaran helmed by Team Principal and Skipper, Ben Ainslie, to the Classic Boat Museum in Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK. The museum took delivery of the platform last week, with a view to make the boat part of a display at the new museum in West Cowes, which is due to open in April.

T1 was the first of five foiling catamarans to be launched by the team - in October 2014 - and was used as a test boat for training sessions on the Solent, in the build-up to the team's campaign for the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda. The boat originally raced under BAR colours during the America's Cup World Series in 2012-13 and was used to break the Round the Island race record in 2013, before being modified by the team to fly on hydrofoils the following year.

Land Rover BAR have a dedicated end of life programme to repurpose and recycle all the team's test and race boats. Alongside donating T1 to the museum, one hull of T2's platform is on display at the team's HQ, within the interactive Tech Deck and the team are working with ELG Carbon Fibre Ltd (ELG) and other partners to recycle/reuse the two final test boats, T3 and T4.

IRC certificates show positive start for 2018
The Spinlock International Rating Certificate (IRC) has made a flying start to 2018 with increased numbers of rating applications in the first month of the year and nearly 1000 certificates issued in January. This is very positive for IRC as certificates are not automatically renewed. Owners must apply for a new certificate through their local IRC Rule Authority and advise any changes to the boat's configuration before the certificate is issued by the RORC Rating Office or UNCL Centre de Calcul, joint owners and administrators of IRC.

Changes to the IRC rating calculations are implemented every January to cater for technical innovations in yacht design, a practice implemented by the IRC Technical Committee to foster close racing and protect the main fleet while remaining progressive. Over the last 12 months the Technical Committee has been studying the effects of foils and how they are rated. Boats such as Infiniti 46 Maverick using the Dynamic Stability System will see a change in her rating from which she will benefit for the upcoming RORC Caribbean 600. Other developments for Spinlock IRC 2018 include changes to the calculations affecting: the rating of spinnaker area, sports boats, and boats that set headsails from bowsprits and do not carry spinnakers. The 'dayboat' classification has also been removed from the Rule, leaving assessment of boats' Offshore Special Regulations compliance to event organisers.

For more details on the changes to IRC for 2018 please see

2018 Changes Explanation (PDF)

Questions with... Olivier Racoupeau
Olivier Racoupeau Though the superyacht business is a relatively small industry, it is packed with international professionals from all walks of life, and it can certainly be easy to get lost in the sea of faces we're presented with at boat shows, yachting events and beyond. In this series of articles, we take a step back from rushed business meetings and hurried networking and sit down with professionals from across the wide spectrum of the superyacht business to learn more about who they are and what they do for the industry. In this week's episode, we get to know Olivier Racoupeau, the owner and head designer of the French design studio, Berret Racoupeau.

How did you get into the field of yacht design?

I came to yacht design because I am a sailor, starting early in regatta boats, dinghies, catamarans and large monohulls. I graduated from Toulouse University in mechanics and aeronautic technologies and joined Jean Berret Yacht Design in 1983, where we mainly did racing yachts. We became partners in 1993, and since then, the company has really grown and we are now up to 12 people. Jean Berret decided to retire in 2007, and since then we have been involved in two main activities: one is production boat design, mainly for bigger French and European boat builders, and the other is designing larger custom yachts.

Tell me about your current projects which you have underway.

At the moment we have a few very nice projects underway. First, we have a 110-foot catamaran in construction in China for a Chinese client. We have also started designing a 55-metre monohull which will be a charter yacht, and we have recently received confirmation to start on a new 110-foot catamaran as well as an 85-foot monohull.

Full interview:

Not sailing but... wow... just wow...
Starman Tesla Take 9 minutes and watch this video of Tuesday's Falcon Heavy test flight... taking Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster into space... and both side engines making a successful return, and landing. Side by side. It's surreal. That's at 6 min 47 seconds.

Starman (the Tesla) is headed for an orbit around the sun for the next million years or so.

This is the heaviest payload since Saturn V's Apollo lunar misssions. Live video from aboard Starman at /

This is one of mankind's greatest engineering feats. To say nothing of the greatest car advert ever.

Vale John Channon
John Channon John Channon, sailmaker and yachtsman, formerly MD of Hood Sails UK, passed away on 12th January aged 66. Generations of yachties will remember him as an unfailingly cheerful and helpful man with a winning smile and a huge reservoir of knowledge about sail technology.

I remember John as one of the nicest guys I ever sailed with. We first met on Peter Whipp's Panda in 1983, on which he was the principal genoa and spinnaker trimmer. Also on Panda was John's great friend Mike Stone (aka "Stumpy"), and the two of them bought for a song a J24 which had sunk off Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. For two years we campaigned Jitterbug with considerable success, winning the Round the Island race in 1984 (a nose in front of a young Jim Macgregor), coming 3rd in the UK Nationals and 15th in the Worlds in Poole Bay in 1985. It was one of the happiest crews I have ever been a member of, and much of the credit for this must go to John.

John started as an apprentice sailmaker at Hood Sails in Lymington in 1967, and learnt his trade the traditional way, working his way up to become Sales Manager in 1983 and then Managing Director of the Hood Lymington loft in 1990. On this journey John was involved in building all types of different sails from dinghies to super yachts, from cruising to racing sails.

In 2009 John suffered a catastrophic stroke leaving him paralysed down his right side and unable to talk, which meant he was unable to be involved in his two businesses. But to his huge credit John never lost his sense of humour. Despite it all, he still enjoyed getting outdoors and making trips to the cliff tops in his electric wheel chair with Jill, making the most of his days.

He leaves his wife Jill, who was also his endlessly loving and patient carer after his stroke, and his two daughters Jeneen and Joanne.

Crispin Read Wilson's full obituary in Sail-World

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 Bruno Dubois, Team manager, Dongfeng Race Team:

Comments about Dongfeng Race Team are totally off the pace.

Our Chinese content is as below :

- Sailors 3 who are rotating every leg. When they are not sailing on the VO65 they are training on a Figaro Beneteau in France with the objective to sail the Figaro race next August.
- Account manager : 1
- Comms/media : 3
- Team reporter : 1
- Hospitality assistant : 1
- Shore team members : 2

This is a total of eleven Chinese team members who for most of them have been with us since 2013. This is about 25% of the total team.

And this is way more than what have been done before our involvement in the last edition.

Rome has not be done in one day... and it is no different when it comes to offshore sailing.

The Volvo Ocean Race sailing is not something you learn in books !

We go step by step and I hope soon we will enable to put a full Chinese team on the starting line.

So… next time instead of writing fake news to create the buzz... do not hesitate to visit our website : to learn more about our program.
Or simply call me...

I don't think we can call all the above "nonsense or madness".

* From Alistair Skinner:

Dongfeng Race Team is funded by a Chinese company and is therefore Chinese and Scallywag by a Hong Kong company and therefore HongKongese. Is not the 'flag' of most vessels determined by ownership?

In addition to being Chinese funded there are 3 Chinese Nationals on the sailing side of the team, include the shore team and the figure jumps to 25%.

Scallywag, while having no Hong Kong sailors on board is in actual fact owned by an Asian businessman with his business based in Hong Kong.

Pro-sailors sailing under different flags are nothing new.

One of the greatest of them all, Charlie Barr was born in Scotland in 1864, sailed on the Scottish America's Cup challenger in 1887 and went on to skipper (obviously) successful American Defenders (having changed citizenship) in 1899, 1901 & 1903. He also set a transatlantic record in 1905, a monohull record that stood for an incredible 92 years.

* From Robert Hughes re: Canada's Cup

If you had an interest in big boat sailing and grew up near the Great lakes you were likely fascinated with the Mac races and Canada's Cup. Both are marquee sailing events with history behind them. I have had the privilege of participating in four of them. Many of the great lakes and nation's highly regarded sailors have raced for the Cup over the years including, Bill Martin, Terry Kohler, Larry Klein, Don Wilson, Hans Fough, Terry McLaughlin, Terry Hutchinson, John Kostecki and Andy Horton to name a few. I am pleased that the owners of the Canada's Cup, Royal Canadian Yacht Club, have come up with a proposal to get the Cup on the water and try to restore it's relevance and past glory. The Cup has been sitting on the shelf for too long and has not had the proper stage its history deserves.

The new proposal addresses many of the issues that have held up the Cup racing in the past. The Melges 37 is a good boat for this purpose. It is a one design that balances the right size, cost, performance and established class to race in. Committing to the M37 for three cycles provides consistency and stability for the teams. Another positive is that the Cup be raced every two years. The two primary factors that have held the Cup back in the past have been agreeing on a boat and getting RCYC to commit to racing on a regular basis. RCYC is also proposing an all-amateur crew that have been members of the participating Club for at least 18 months. This reasoning is to reduce costs and give smaller clubs a chance. While this sounds good in theory it is far easier for a big club like RCYC who has a lineup of past and present Olympic sailors to stock a boat with high caliber amateur sailors.

This is a good start until you get to the next proposed condition. Regardless of the winner, the cup stays in Toronto. Seriously. The Cup has always been about the winner hosting the next event. Besides Toronto it has been hosted in Detroit, Chicago, Holland etc. It takes a lot of time, money and club support to win a Canada's Cup. The payoff and excitement for the challenging club has always been the prospect of bringing the Cup back to your club to hold the defense. Bayview Yacht Club, Chicago Yacht Club and Macatawa Bay Yacht Club have all hosted first class Cup defenses. How could you justify removing the key component of the Cup? Disrespect the legacy of the Canada's Cup by turning it into the RCYC invitational cup? Why would an owner spend thousands of dollars, weeks away from home, and encourage fellow club members to support the team when the Cup stays at RCYC if you win? The Canada's Cup is often called the Great Lakes version of the America's Cup. How many teams would challenge for the AC if the Cup stayed in NZ?

There are a handful of past participants that are interested in challenging for the Cup but not under these circumstances. Why spend the time and money and if upon winning, the champions must go back to RCYC two years later and provide entertainment? I hope that RCYC revises their proposal to restore this key component. RCYC originally won the Cup in the States and brought it back to Canada. Give the Great Lakes clubs a reason to challenge.

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The Last Word
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