In This Issue
Team AkzoNobel leads fleet out of Hong Kong towards Auckland | One Great Challenge, One Great Start for Transatlantic Race 2019 | Five fleets, 100 boats set for 34th Primo Cup - Trophée Credit Suisse | 8th Superyacht Challenge Antigua | Oyster holding company en-route to administration | Toulon chosen for 2018 GC32 Racing Tour showdown | Hong Kong Yacht Club seeks Boatyard Manager | Valencia Match Cup | Monaco Globe Series: a new 1,400 nautical mile sprint in the Mediterranean | Plans underway to restore Bitter End | 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.

One Great Challenge, One Great Start for Transatlantic Race 2019
Sailing's greatest Corinthian challenge has confirmed the start date for its next edition; and this time, every competitor will depart Newport, R.I., on the same day. The entire Transatlantic Race 2019 fleet will cross the starting line on Tuesday, June 25, 2019, bound for the southern coast of England. A virtual gate off Lizard Point will enable teams to challenge the course record for this historic passage, but the official finish will take place off the Royal Yacht Squadron's waterfront castle in Cowes, England.

The Transatlantic Race 2019, which is organized jointly by the Royal Yacht Squadron, New York Yacht Club, Royal Ocean Racing Club and Storm Trysail Club, is a direct descendant of the first great transatlantic ocean race (at right), which started from New York Harbor on December 11, 1866. In the years since, this course has been plied with less frequency than other, shorter offshore race tracks; the 2019 edition will be just the 31st transatlantic race organized by the New York Yacht Club. Because of that, and the fact that a race from the United States to Europe (or the return) is virtually guaranteed at least one significant storm, simply finishing a transatlantic race remains one of sailing's most coveted accomplishments.

The Notice of Race is now available:

Five fleets, 100 boats set for 34th Primo Cup - Trophée Credit Suisse
As the Yacht Club de Monaco continues to ramp-up its sailing policy, the Club is set to host an armada of one-design elites for the 34th Primo Cup - Trophée Credit Suisse, 9-11 February. With 400+ sailors from 12 countries, the event gathers top European teams and enthusiastic amateurs from five classes: Star, Smeralda 888, Melges 20, J/70 and Longtze Premier.

The Monaco Club has certainly established itself as a winter base for one-designs, particularly for Melges 20 and J/70 which have been competing in the monthly Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series of high-level regattas since October.

With 40+ teams, the J/70 is the biggest fleet with some experienced teams competing like Italian Vincenzo Onorato (Mascalzone Latino). In the former Olympic class, Star, the Primo Cup is the second stage of their European winter circuit. Former World Champion, Italian Robert Benamati is a serious contender for the podium.

Not only does the Primo Cup - Trophée Credit Suisse kick-start the racing season, it is also a platform for meeting people and exchanging ideas. In this spirit, on Thursday at 5.30pm celebrated Nice sailor Jean-Pierre Dick will be presenting his new project, Easy to fly, a one-design foiling catamaran.

Another special feature of the Primo is that it rewards team-work. All crew members in the first three boats in each class receive clothing from SLAM's Advanced Technology Sportswear. It all starts Thursday with a warm-up race at 2.30pm. The first official races kick-off Friday at 11.00am.

8th Superyacht Challenge Antigua
The Caribbean superyacht season kicked off in fine style with the 2018 Superyacht Challenge Antigua. Now its 8th year, the Superyacht Challenge Antigua is free from commercial endorsements, and has one clear objective; to provide all the facilities to stage an ideal event for an exclusive selection of yachts, where fair racing and good companionship are valued above all else.

The regatta once again attracted a magnificent fleet, including five previous winners. Five races were scored using the new 2018 ORCsy Superyacht rule. The 90ft Hoek designed sloop Acadia was second in 2017 and made no mistake this year winning the Buccaneers Class with straight bullets.The 112ft German Frers designed sloop Spiip, successfully defended their Corsairs class win from 2017.

Over five highly competitive races, Spiip won the class in the last race, and was voted by competitors and the race committee, as having competed in the Spirit of the Regatta, both afloat and ashore, winning The Gosnell Trophy.

The Corsairs Class featured examples of the world's most outstanding performance superyachts including the 172ft Hoek designed Elfje, which placed second on countback from the 140ft German Frers Rebecca. The 105ft Bill Dixon designed sloop, Danneskjold was the best starting yacht of the regatta, and will go on to compete in the gruelling RORC Caribbean 600 later in February. The Corsairs Class was incredibly competitive with the overall lead changing hands at the end of every race, many races were decided by just a few seconds.

The Superyacht Challenge Antigua uses the ORCsy Rule to decide race winners.

Oyster holding company en-route to administration
Oyster Marine Holdings, the group's master company, is en-route to enter administration later today or early tomorrow. David Tydeman, Oyster Group CEO, confirmed this to IBI today and said: "The name of the administrator will be announced very soon. I am not able to give the name of the administrator yet.

"At present it is only the holding company that is entering administration," he added. "Oyster Marine, Oyster Brokerage and Oyster Palma are still operating. I wish to make it very clear that Oyster Palma is still active because the management team are very concerned that they are receiving reports that they are in administration."

Tydeman indicated that it is likely the UK companies will follow and in total about 330 people in the UK and US have been laid off. "We are operating with a skeleton team of about half a dozen here but we have at least a dozen volunteers who we have had to pay off but have come in to help.

"There is a huge loyalty out there and many Oyster owners have been ringing up to offer help and support," Tydeman told IBI. "There are many wealthy Oyster owners who are giving such offers and some of these made a bid on the company in 2012 when HTP Investments bought control."

He pointed out that a rush of orders in the second half of 2017 had resulted in the record order book of £83m with work stretching to 2019 and 2010. "We had some gaps in the order book we were looking to fill such as for the 835 and 895 plus the considerable interest generated by the 745 at boot Dusseldorf. We also have a couple of parties interested in the third Oyster 118." The first two Oyster 118s were in build with deliveries set for 2019 and 2020.

HTP Investments, the Dutch company that bought Oyster in 2012, is understood to have withdrawn its support for the company in late January, leaving the Oyster management team only a few days to undertake a rescue.

Toulon chosen for 2018 GC32 Racing Tour showdown
Traditionally the GC32 Racing Tour always concludes in the south of France and for the 2018 season, its grand finale will take place in Toulon. Running over 10-14th October, the GC32 TPM Med Cup will be held on the Rade de Toulon, just off France's third biggest Mediterranean port and capital of the Var department.

While nearby Hyères is the better known sailing venue thanks to its annual Olympic classes events, Toulon is fast gaining notoriety in yacht racing circles having hosted the high profile French stop of the America's Cup World Series in September 2016.

Racing at that event with Groupama Team France was Thierry Fouchier, who will return to Toulon this season sailing in the GC32 Racing Tour aboard Erik Maris' Zoulou.

A French grand finale also bodes well as at present two highly competitive French teams are signed up to compete on the GC32 Racing Tour in 2018. In addition to Franck Cammas' NORAUTO powered by Team France, the 2016 champion, there will be Erik Maris' Zoulou. Interestingly both boats are sailed by former members of Cammas' America's Cup challenge, Team France. Given that either or both of these top teams is expected to be on the podium, or even leading the GC32 Racing Tour once they reach Toulon, this season's French grande finale is already lining up to be a thrilling one.

Hong Kong Yacht Club seeks Boatyard Manager
The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club is looking for a high caliber individual to fill the post of Boatyard Manager which will become vacant in May 2018.

This is a Head of Department position reporting directly to the General Manager. The successful candidate will be responsible for coordinating, overseeing and managing the day-to-day repair and maintenance activities of what is a very busy yard. Whilst technical knowledge, leadership skills and management experience are all very important criteria, it will be equally important that the successful candidate has a positive, proactive attitude and shows good interpersonal and communication skills with members and staff alike.

- Review current practices, procedures and policies and make recommendations for any improvements that are required in the short, medium and long terms.

- Ensure the appropriate resources are in place to support and facilitate the yard activities in a safe, cost effective, professional, environmental and sustainable way.
- Lead a team of workers and sub-contractors to handle the day-to-day boat repair and maintenance works for both large and small racing and cruising yachts, and the club's fleet of race management and support boats.
- Set up, implement and review maintenance programs for the boat fleet under repair.
- Provide technical advice and recommendations and prepare quotations on repairs and improvement works for members on their yachts.
- Proactively update members on the progress of any work being carried out in the yard.
- Prepare forecasts and budgets for the yard operation and report on monthly performance.
- Perform ad-hoc duties as assigned.

We look for an experienced professional with:
- Vocational/Technical School Certificate in related disciplines.
- Minimum 10 years' experience in managing a yard or in a similar yachting environment.
- Practical and proven knowledge in repair and maintenance of modern racing and cruising yachts.
- Excellent time-management and facilitation skills with the ability to supervise work in the agreed order of priorities.
- Sound management skills with an ability to manage, motivate and lead the whole boatyard team (including workers and sub-contractors) to achieve the desired result.
- Strong communication, interpersonal and customer service skills.
- Problem solving skills along with experience in costing, quality control, health and safety and environmental aspects.
- A natural commitment to achieving customer satisfaction from all work carried out by the yard.
- Proficiency in MS Office applications.
- Good command of written and spoken English.

We offer an attractive remuneration and excellent fringe benefits package to the right candidate. Interested parties should submit a comprehensive CV together with expected salary to the Human Resources Manager, RHKYC, Kellett Island, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong or email

Valencia Match Cup
The World Match Racing Tour starts 2018 with the Valencia Match Cup - the Tour's debut in the Spanish city as part of an east-coast double header. Teams have already been enjoying sailing M32 catamarans as part of M32 Word's Valencia Winter Series, and the venue has delivered on stunning conditions ideally suited to M32 sailing - a mixture of moderate winds and shifty conditions it will be a playground for WMRT skippers new and old.

Racing takes place in front of Veles e Vents, just inside Valencia's popular beach strip, in Port America's Cup. As the name suggests, competitors will enjoy match racing on the same waters as the great matches of the 32nd and 33rd America's Cup.

Some familiar young Tour faces will be joined by multihull experts at this event which will certainly stir up close competition on the race course. Keep watching to see who will finish in those top two qualifying positions to secure an invite to the first Championship level event of the 2018 World Match Racing Tour season.

The dates for the Valencia Match Cup are Feb 20-28.

Monaco Globe Series: a new 1,400 nautical mile sprint in the Mediterranean
At the beginning of June, a dozen teams are set to stopover in the Principality for the first time to take the start of a double-hander offshore race on a course that embraces some of the most emblematic marks in the western Mediterranean.

On the programme: 1,400 nautical miles, four days and three nights of racing. After the start in Monaco, the fleet races down Corsica's west coast before being propelled through the Strait of Bonifacio, towards the Aeolian Islands, where they tack in front of Stromboli and head for Palermo in Sicily. The fleet then sets course for the Balearic Islands before returning to Monaco.

The Monaco event marks the start of the new IMOCA 2018-2020 championship, renamed the Globe Series, with a system of points and weightings over a four-year period. The goal for sailors is to rack-up a maximum number of points to qualify for the big offshore races, with the Vendee Globe as the holy grail.

Competitors who decide to come to the Mediterranean can look forward to a challenging first stage.

The Monegasque boat Malizia II, former Gitana 16 that belonged to Sebastien Josse, is a newcomer to the YCM fleet and embodies the new generation which is considered one of the best mono-hulls competing in the last Vendee Globe. Fitted with a standardised keel and mast, the hull's voluminous bow improves performance, not forgetting foils in place of the straight daggerboard of previous IMOCAs.

Plans underway to restore Bitter End
The Bitter End Yacht Club in Virgin Gorda was devastated by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, leaving over 64 acres, one mile of shoreline and over 50 structures destroyed in its path. The task at hand for restoration of the iconic destination is extraordinary, but the Bitter End community is steadfast in its mission to restore Bitter End's legacy.

To accomplish this, Bitter End's ownership family confirmed a temporary closure of the property with plans to announce a reopening date in the coming months.

BEYC's ownership and team have been passionately involved in relief efforts to support their employees and the recovery of the territory. Their immediate focus has been on fundraising to support the recovery, with $800,000 raised to date. This effort has been overwhelmingly supported by individual donations from Bitter End's impassioned guests and a community of kindred spirits across the maritime and travel sectors.

The fund also received two major gifts; one gift most generously donated from an anonymous long-standing Bitter End guest in addition to a gift from the David Hokin Foundation. 100% of the funds are being directed to the Virgin Gorda community focused on healthcare and education in addition to direct aid to Bitter End's 178 employees who were employed at the time of the storm.

BEYC now undertakes the task of restoring Bitter End to the iconic Caribbean destination it has been for the past fifty years and is excited to announce it has engaged world-renowned architectural firm Simplemente Madera, led by Matthew Falkiner, to assist in developing the resort's next chapter. -- John A. Glynn

Relief Fund for Bitter End Community

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