In This Issue
Team Brunel hold on to win toughest stage of Volvo Ocean Race
Rust Never Sleeps, Back In Business
U23 champ Nils Theuninck leads Finn fleet in Palma after tricky Tuesday
WIM Series Announces 2018 Series
Lost at sea in the Volvo Ocean Race
Team NZ scores a futuristic new home
Industry News
Featured Brokerage
The Last Word: Joel Coen

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 Brunel hold on to win toughest stage of Volvo Ocean Race
It was easily the most difficult stage of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, and the sailors will almost certainly rank it as one of the hardest in the history of the race.

But Bouwe Bekking used his veteran nous to fight through all the challenges and lead Team Brunel to an incredibly narrow win over Charles Caudrelier's Dongfeng Race Team. After racing nearly 7,600 nautical miles over the ground, the margin at the finish was less than 15 minutes.

"It's been an unbelievable leg," Bekking said. "We are sad in our hearts about the loss of John Fisher (SHK/Scallywag) and that sits very deep with us, but from a sporting standpoint we sailed a very nice leg so we take confidence from that."

Nominally a 7,600 nautical mile race from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajaí, Brazil, Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race took the teams deep into the Southern Ocean, with an amended Ice Exclusion Zone set at far south as 60-degrees south latitude.

Down in the 'Furious Fifties' (south of 50-degrees latitude) the wind and cold was relentless. Steady gale force winds of 30-35 knots, with 4 to 6 metre seas was a normal day. Squalls could bring gusts upwards of 50 knots and towering seas. The temperature plummeted to just above freezing and snow and hail were common.

John Fisher's team, Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag have now made landfall in Chile, one week after his tragic loss overboard in the Southern Ocean.

The team has been fighting a devastating emotional and physical battle over the last seven days to ensure the rest of the crew and their Volvo Ocean 65 arrived on shore safely.

For the short term, the team says it will remain in Chile as they debrief and decide on future plans.

The team will release more information as it becomes available.

Separately, the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Chile has confirmed the Search and Rescue operation has been "deactivated".

Vestas 11th Hour Racing remain in the Falkland Islands, assessing logistical options to re-join the race following a dismasting just hours after passing Cape Horn.

Next to finish Leg 7 will likely be team AkzoNobel who are approximately 36 hours behind the leaders, in what appears to be a safe position for a podium finish.

Rust Never Sleeps, Back In Business
At the 49 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar Olympic classes regatta on the Bay of Palma Australians Mat Belcher and Will Ryan return to the 470 after a six month break and today climbed to the top of the 470 Men's leaderboard after a 3,1 in what proved to be relatively light airs during their two heats.

The duo, Olympic silver medallists in Rio, current World Champions and class winners here in 2016, maintain they are here to shed any ring rustiness and check in with the strong fleet here, but they appeared to be right into their stride.

In the 49er Class the 30th birthday for world champion helm Dylan Fletcher Scott was celebrated quietly as he and Olympic silver medallist Stu Bithell with a strong 1,1,2 to take the overall fleet lead after six qualifying races. "That's enough of a birthday present for him. He's getting nothing 'til the end of the week. The big present would be to win here." quipped Bithell who won 2012 Olympic silver in the 470. The duo have medalled at every 49er event since they paired up last year.

In the Nacra 17 the Italian world championship bronze medallists Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti dropped to second behind world champion Ben Saxton sailing with Nicola Boniface. Like many others the Italian duo have been winter training in comparitive isolation, with a group in Cagliari, Sardinia, and could not race in Miami because they only have the one boat.

After four races for the Laser and Laser Radials, 19 year old Australian Finn Alexander, the 2016 Youth World Champion is still holding on to a one point margin ahead of Kiwi silver medallist Sam Meech while Greece's Vasileia Karachaliou holds the Radial overall lead.

Full results @

U23 champ Nils Theuninck leads Finn fleet in Palma after tricky Tuesday
The recently crowned U23 European champion Nils Theuninck, from Switzerland has taken the lead at the 49 Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía Iberostar in Palma after two more races were sailed in light and tricky winds on Tuesday. He holds a two-point lead over Olympic champion, Giles Scott, from Britain, and another U23 sailor Luke Muller, from the USA. The race wins went to Fabian Pic, of France and Milan Vujasinovic, of Croatia.

Already rescheduled for a later start at 13.00, the fleet was then delayed on shore for another hour. Many restarts and delays for resetting the line meant that the fleet didn't get back to shore until well after 18.00, but with two more races on the board.

You only have to look at the results to see how tough the racing is and how deep the fleet is in talent and ambition. Many of the top sailors at the recent European championships are deep in the fleet. European Champion Ed Wright, from Britain, is in 34th, while second placed Nicholas Heiner, from The Netherlands, is 16th and Josh Junior, from New Zealand is in 40th. However, World Champion Max Salminen, from Sweden recovered some ground today with a 7, 10 to move up to ninth overall.

However a 9, 4 was enough for Theuninck to take the lead from Scott, who placed 8, 11. Muller followed up his second place with a 26, which he is discarding.

Racing for Finns in Palma is scheduled to continue at 11.00 on Wednesday.

Results after four races
1. Nils Theuninck, SUI, 14
2. Giles Scott, GBR, 17
3. Luke Muller, USA, 19
4. Alejajndro Muscat, ESP, 19
5. Tapio Nirkko, FIN, 20
6. Facundo Olezza, ARG, 23
7. Anders Pedersen, NOR, 28
8. Jorge Zarif, BRA, 30
9. Max Salminen, SWE, 34
10. Alessio Spadoni, ITA, 35

…or how a famous German software company is fast raising the stakes in course management

In F1 Lewis Hamilton knows where his power is coming from because his Mercedes McLaren is fuelled up before the race with a carefully calculated amount of fuel that depends on conditions, track layout, driving style and so on. A sailor, however, never quite knows how much power he's going to get, which direction it will come from and how long it might last.

Solving the problem of predicting weather and current conditions has gone through a quantum leap in the past few years, particularly in long-distance offshore racing. But big gains are also being made in short-course competition, particularly in Olympic sailing. At the forefront of this drive for greater knowledge and forecasting accuracy is Buell Software, in Germany.

It all started just over 20 years ago when Ingo Buell, a PhD in physics, entered a national competition to win a prize fund put forward by Daimler Benz Aerosail to develop technology that would help Germany's Olympic sailors succeed at the Atlanta Games in 1996. Aided by his Masters students at Kiel University, Buell developed some routeing software. Jochen Schümann, competing in the Soling keelboat, analysed the printouts every morning before racing. He went on to win the gold medal, and so Buell Software was born.

Full article in the April issue of Seahorse:

WIM Series Announces 2018 Series
The Women's International Match Racing Series today announced the 2018 series schedule with events in Finland, Sweden, Russia and the US Virgin Islands. This year marks the sixth consecutive season of the WIM Series, the world's first and only women's professional sailing series founded in 2012.

Up to 30 of the top women's match racing teams will battle for the coveted series trophy starting in Helsinki (Finland) 25-29 June followed by back-to-back events in Lysekil (Sweden) 6-11 August, and Ekaterinburg (Russia) 14-18 August. The Series finale will be staged in the turquoise waters of St.Thomas in the US Virgin Islands 29 November - 2 December. A penultimate fifth event is expected to be added to the schedule in September and the Series is keen to also add a US event.

Since it's launch in 2012, the WIM Series has delivered 23 events worldwide, attracting over 400 female sailors from 25 countries including Olympic sailors, National and World Champions. Each year, one of the Series events also plays host to the Women's Match Racing World Championship, sanctioned by the sports global governing body, World Sailing.

WIM Series 2018 calendar
Helsinki Women's Match, Helsinki, Finland : 25 - 29 June (J/80)
Lysekil Women's Match, Lysekil, Sweden : 6 - 11 August (Fareast 28r)
Women's Match Racing World Championship, Ekaterinburg, Russia : 14 - 18 August (Ricochet 747)
Carlos Aguilar Match Race 2018, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands : 29 November - 2 December (IC 24)

Lost at sea in the Volvo Ocean Race
I will deal with the pleasantries first then get into the meat of the matter. I wish to extend my condolences to the family and friends of John Fisher, the crewmember who was tragically lost overboard from Team Sun Hung Kai Scallywag in the Volvo Ocean Race. It was first light on board Monday morning as the boat was romping downwind in very fresh conditions when Fisher was swept overboard. He was, according to his crewmates, wearing a survival suit and carrying all the requisite safety gear but after two hours of searching in very brutal conditions they gave up. A ship was diverted to the area to help with the search but it would be nothing more than searching for a needle in the proverbial haystack, which in this case was the vast Southern Ocean. VOR race HQ in Alicante decided that turning some of the other boats around to help with the search effort would be futile. They would be sending them upwind in 40 knots and in those conditions it would take them so long to get back to the search area that Fisher would likely have perished by the time that they got there.

So that's the nice part, or at least the polite part. These boats are absurd for sailing in those waters and the management team at VOR are complicit in the death of John Fisher. Any sailor worth his or her weight in rum will agree that taking a boat with practically zero on-deck protection into the very hostile waters of the Southern Ocean is asking for trouble. Yes the Volvo Ocean Race has the tag line; Life at the Extreme but give me a break. Extreme what? Extreme stupidity? Look at the video footage. There is plenty of it and it's pretty compelling. Boats hurtling down the face of a cresting breaker at 25-30 knots only to plow into the wave ahead sending waist deep water cascading down the deck. The late great Sir Peter Blake used to call this going into the 'Green Room.' Just how many times can you do this without having someone on deck get washed into the wake and lost at sea?

Full editorial in Brian Hancock's blog:

Team NZ scores a futuristic new home
The $212 million home for the next America's Cup is one that no one wanted - but everyone is now happy to make their own.

The Auckland Council agreed just before the Easter break to support an America's Cup village known as the Wynyard-Hobson option, something of a camel from six months of work by a three-humped committee, at a cost of $98.5 million to Auckland ratepayers, with the balance covered by taxpayers nationwide.

Included in the Government's contribution is a $40 million event hosting fee direct to Team NZ.

The seven bases for the America's Cup defender and likely challengers will be across three wharves, Hobson - which will be extended into the Waitemata Harbour for a double base for challenger of record Luna Rossa of Italy - Halsey, where Emirates Team NZ will take over the public Viaduct Events Centre rent-free for at least four years, and the old Tank Farm land and Wynyard Wharf for the rest.

The Wynyard-Hobson option agreed by the council, the Government and Team NZ is cheaper than previous plans but has less to offer in permanent, structural legacy for the Auckland waterfront. -- Tim Murphy in

Industry News
A merger between the Fountaine-Pajot shipyard, one of the world's leading catamaran manufacturers, and Dufour Yachts, a specialist in monohull sailboats, could complete in the coming weeks.

The alliance would result in Fountaine-Pajot taking a majority stake in Dufour, thanks to the financial support of Credit Agricole Bank and UNEXO, Credit Agricole Group's investment fund.

The merger between the two shipyards, located in La Rochelle on the French Atlantic coast, would give birth to a group with a turnover of €142m and 1,100 employees.

Established in 1964, Dufour Yachts employs 500 people and generated turnover of €63.5m for the fiscal year ended July 31, 2017. Led by Salvatore Serio, the yard builds monohulls from 31ft-63ft.

With just over 600 employees, Fountaine-Pajot reported turnover of €79m for the year ended August 31, 2017. Founded in 1976 by Jean-Francois Fountaine (the current mayor of La Rochelle), the yard is today led by Nicolas Gardies and Romain Motteau and produces a full range of sailing catamarans from 40ft-58ft and motor cats from 37ft to 44ft.

The two brands emphasised the commercial, strategic and industrial interest of this alliance in a joint press release. These include the strengthening of the commercial networks between Dufour, which is very present in Europe, and Fountaine-Pajot, which is very active in the US and the rest of the world.


The organisers of the China International Boat Show (CIBS) have given the forthcoming show a 360-degree water carnival theme to appeal to China's affluent middle classes.

According to the organisers, there has been a well-documented rapid increase in domestic tourism and within this sector, even faster growth in waterfront recreation, including short-term rentals of motor cruisers and sailboats. Through this means, thousands of Chinese are having their first taste of boating and an introduction to the on-water lifestyle.

Evidence of this trend was seen at the at the Sanya Boating Tourism Market event held during the recent China Spring Festival, where the organisers state that over a seven-day period 25,900 people went afloat on multiple craft operating from three participating locations with an average spend of RMB 10,000 (US$1,560) for a three-hour boat rental session.

The Shanghai boat show is responding to such trends by having a full programme designed to capture the interest of the growing market of newcomers interested in adding boating to their recreational pursuits. Features at this year's show will include a 500sq m indoor pool to demonstrate everything from paddle boarding to water skiing and sailing.


The Cruising Association (CA), the UK's foremost member organisation for cruising sailors, is delighted to announce a relaunch of its partnership with leading marine clothing brand Henri Lloyd, to take immediate effect.

In addition to being spoilt for choice with a range of over 50 technical clothing and accessory products to choose from, CA members will also benefit from a generous discount scheme when purchasing their Henri Lloyd kit for this season. If CA members order before the end of April, they will also receive an additional discount as well as automatic entry into a Prize Draw to win a Henri Lloyd Dri Pac Bag.

The range includes Henri Lloyd Ocean Offshore, Coastal Offshore and Inshore ranges plus Mid and Base layers, Soft Shell and Shell Jackets and Vests. Henri Lloyd Fleeces, Thermals, Luggage, Gloves and Boots make up the remainder of the range exclusively available to CA members at preferential prices.


The Yacht Racing Forum is delighted to announce a two years partnership with one of the sports' most innovative andy dynamic companies: Future Fibres. Part of the Southern Spars Group since 2014, Future Fibres is the world's leading supplier of composite rigging to the race, cruise and superyacht markets.

"The Design & Technology Symposium has taken momentum over the years and is attracting more and more companies involved in technology, construction and design", says Bernard Schopfer, the organiser of the Forum. "Future Fibres' involvement illustrates this tendency, and we are looking forward to sharing this great event with them over the coming years".

Having pioneered the use of unidirectional fibre for yacht rigging almost two decades ago, Future Fibres has revolutionized the rigging industry, allowing composite rigging to be used on every area of the boat. With unmatched technical experience and class leading customer support, Future Fibres is the industry benchmark for innovation and quality and has gained a reputation as the composite rigging provider of choice.

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The Last Word
My most important professional accomplishment? I think that it's that I'm so scintillating and engaging in an interview. -- Joel Coen

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