In This Issue
Volvo Ocean Race fleet navigates St Helena High
Volvo Race for sale?
Southern Spars at the Palma Superyacht Show
IMOCA 60 designs could be adopted for the next Volvo Ocean Race
Spring finally arrives for the Helly Hansen Warsash Spring Series
Phil Sharp in the 1000 Milles de Sables Race for the Class40
Irish Sailor of the Year Conor Fogerty Aims for Vendee Globe 2020
Letters to the Editor
Featured Brokerage
The Last Word: Jerry Rubin

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

Volvo Ocean Race fleet navigates St Helena High
Dongfeng Race Team snuck into the lead on Tuesday as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet continued to skirt Leg 8's first major obstacle - the St Helena High.

The famed anticyclone is renowned for dominating the South Atlantic and making tricky sailing for Volvo Ocean Race teams heading north or south.

Constantly expanding and contracting, the St Helena High - also known as the South Atlantic High Pressure Cell - is currently centred around 1,300 miles east of the Leg 8 start city Itajai.

However its influence stretches 1,000 miles in every direction, causing a major navigational problem for the seven Volvo Ocean Race teams.

Charles Caudrelier's Dongfeng had the upper hand - albeit a very small one - as the 1300 UTC position report was released showing the Franco-Chinese outfit with a two-mile jump on second-placed MAPFRE.

Around 16 miles separates Dongfeng in the east from Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, the most westerly boat, while Team Brunel were the most southerly boat some five miles below the leaders.

The long-term strategy remains to get east as fast as possible, in search of stronger, more favourable breeze and less current deeper in the South Atlantic.

In order to do that, the teams have had plenty of tacks and sail changes with more in store as they zigzag their way around the St Helena High's north-western edge.

Volvo Race for sale?
Meanwhile, the Volvo Ocean Race could be close to being sold, according to several sources close to the event. We understand that at least two companies are undertaking due diligence checks before making a potential bid.

The race is currently jointly owned by Volvo Cars and Volvo Group, and that joint ownership may be set to split. Volvo Cars is owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding, while Volvo Group, often referred to as AB Volvo, whose products include busses, construction vehicles and marine engines, remains a Swedish owned company based in Gothenburg.

The race is currently headed up by Richard Brisius, who is also CEO of the company running Sweden's bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2026. -- Elaine Bunting


Southern Spars at the Palma Superyacht Show
Southern Spars Southern Spars is pleased to announce we will be returning to exhibit at the Palma Superyacht Show, from 27th April - 1st May.

The Superyacht Show, held every year in Palma, is an exclusive brokerage and charter show for yachts over 24m. Whether you want a rig for high-performance racing, blue-water cruising, or both, Southern Spars will be there to show you why our spars and rigging are the ideal compliment to your superyacht.

At our stand you will find Southern Spars' superyacht salesman, Paul MacDonald, representatives from Future Fibres, Miles Amin, Erik Bernstrom and Michael Joubert, as well as Stefano Scarpa, Rig Pro's Director. With decades of experiences amongst them, they will be on site to give their expert advice.

Come and find us at stand SY32.

IMOCA 60 designs could be adopted for the next Volvo Ocean Race
Final negotiations are underway between the IMOCA class and the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) to adopt the IMOCA 60 as the design the next fully crewed round the world race.

An announcement is expected to be made before the end of the VOR race in June.

Proposals for the race to adopt the IMOCA 60 rule (formerly Open 60) used in the major solo and short-handed ocean races such as the Vendee Globe and Route du Rhum been discussed for several years. The IMOCA box rule, which has incorporated developments such as wingmasts, canting keels and now foils, is the most successful and enduring rule in ocean racing, and has led to a vigorous secondhand market for these one-off designs.

An agreement could make it possible for teams to do both races with comparatively minor modifications to an existing or new yacht. It would also reduce VOR team costs by whittling down crew numbers; an IMOCA 60 is considered fully crewed with four or five people.

VOR has declined to comment on the discussions at this stage.

An agreement would supersede the concept of a 'Super 60' one-design for the VOR announced by former CEO Mark Turner last year. It would have been adaptable for the Vendee and other IMOCA events, but at a high cost - the design had a bigger mast, longer keel and trim tabs. Turner quit the race last September among rumours that the Volvo board had baulked at the costs of creating the new one-design fleet.

The adoption of the IMOCA 60 would mark a big change for the Volvo Race, which moved to a one-design and operates strict rule management and centralised refit and maintenance. The IMOCA rule is democratically decided on by the class association, and anyone who owns a yacht in class automatically becomes a voting member - it cannot be controlled by commercial interests, past skippers or a race organiser. Many skippers own their yachts, and so have a vested interest in ensuring boats evolve (winners need a faster boat), but not so radically that the secondhand value is diminished.

Alex Thomson, who is on the IMOCA class board, says the vote to allow the VOR to adopt the rule was "nearly unanimous. Only three out of 80 were against it.

"We talked about it with VOR and we expect some announcement, but the ball is firmly in their court.

"The IMOCA rule has the only sustainable ocean racing fleet in the world - and it works." -- Elaine Bunting

Spring finally arrives for the Helly Hansen Warsash Spring Series
With the best weather so far in the series arriving on Sunday 22nd April, we also saw some of the best racing on the water.

The White Group had a light shifty SW breeze of 5 to 6 knots which eventually settled into 13 knots.The U flag (no boats in the start line windward mark triangle in the last minute of start sequence) was used for the three J/70 starts which all got away cleanly with most competitors within half a boat length of the start.

The number of J/70 entries was boosted by those boats in the Crewsaver Warsash Spring Championship which runs over the two weekends 21/22 and 28/29 April, and the quality of racing was excellent. The J/70 fleet leader in the series is DSP (Douglas Struth) with Jeepster (Graham Clapp) in second position and Peggy (Jon Powell) in third.

The small quarter ton fleet also displayed good starting and close racing, as did the SB20 fleet. Dark and Stormy (Andrew Bell) leads the SB20s in the series with Trouble and Strife (George Barker) in second place.

Black Group had two races on Sunday with mainly windward leeward course using fixed and laid marks.

The wind was generally about 240 to 250 degrees and between 7 and 9 knots, but it did drop to 2 to 4 knots for a while during the first race, which meant the bigger deeper draft yachts who couldn't do as much tide dodging, came to a near standstill for a while. Tidal tactics were vital as the beats were quite long against the tide on the southern edge of the Brambles plateau and the breeze was unreliable.

The second race was a short and sharp one as the breeze picked up and the race course was busy and lively.

The prize draw was presented by Tom Milne from Doyle Sails and the lucky winners were Erik the Red who won a Helly Hansen Duffel Bag, Carnage who a won the Crewsaver Wet/Dry 75lt Holdall each, and JDream who won the Doyle Sails holdall. All those class winners present at the Warsash Sailing Club after racing received a bottle of champagne from Doyle Sails.

For full race results please go to the Helly Hansen Warsash Spring Series website.

Phil Sharp in the 1000 Milles de Sables Race for the Class40
Five months have passed since the last crewed race aboard Imerys Clean Energy, and 16 months since Phil Sharp's last solo adventure - the notable nine hour World Speed Sailing Record and Guinness Record for the Channel, which broke the previous time by three hours at an average speed of 15.25 knots.

Phil Sharp, Skipper of Imerys Clean Energy comments: "I am itching to get out there and throw myself back into single-handed offshore racing. It's been two years since my last solo race when I arrived at the Statue of Liberty in the Transat bakerly with a blown-out mainsail. Since then we have worked hard on updating the sail package, and tweaked the systems to better suit solo racing.

"Looking ahead to the Route du Rhum, this race is an important opportunity to test the solo configuration aboard the boat, and ideally to practise efficient and clean sail changes."

Just yesterday the 14 solo skippers were provided with a race route that current weather forecasts show as a downwind ride to Gijon, before heading upwind north across the Bay of Biscay to Wolf Rock, with the final leg in downwind and reaching conditions.

"At the moment the forecast is quite variable with predominantly light to medium winds, however, currently just west of Finisterre there is a storm forecast for Friday, which could definitely be a game changer if this develops in our direction.

"I think it's going to be a good test to see how Imerys Clean Energy performs against the newer models in solo configuration, so it will be interesting to see how the race unfolds." Phil continued.

After a first course change on the eve of the start of the race, the Race Direction of the 1000 Milles des Sables has just made the decision to modify the route once again. The weather conditions announced for the day of Friday off the tip of Brittany and Channel (30 knots of wind with gusts to 35-40 on a formed sea) motivated Denis Hugues to finally not send the fleet until 'to Wolf Rock, in the south-west of Great Britain, as he explains:' After the passing mark in Gijon, Spain, the loners will join the cardinal South of the Banc de Guerande before descending to Gijon then to return to Les Sables d'Olonne. Once again, it's about the safety of skippers ". In total, sailors will therefore travel 970 miles (previously 930).

Everything will depend on the position of everyone because this axis of high pressure comes and goes in the Bay of Biscay "Says Christian Dumard, the meteorologist of the race who predicts many strokes of elasticity in the ranking in the coming days. ETAs in all this? Now we expect the Multi50 Port Olona in the day on Friday and Class40 in the night from Saturday to Sunday. In the immediate future, both of them continue their descent towards the Asturian coasts with gybes.

The first are expected at the end of the afternoon and the latter in the middle of the night. Rankings, on both sides, the leadership remains highly contested as Armel Tripon (Chocolate Rite) and Thibaut Vauchel-Camus (Solidaires En Peloton - ARSEP) regain contact just like Sam Goodchild (All in for the Rum), Aymeric Chappellier (AINA Childhood and Future) and Phil Sharp (Imerys Clean Energy) at 40 feet,

Irish Sailor of the Year Conor Fogerty Aims for Vendee Globe 2020
Irish Sailor of the Year Conor Fogerty has launched a Vendee Globe 2020 campaign, bringing to four the number of Irish sailors now working towards the non-stop solo round-the-world race in two year's time.

'Boat selection, physical training and preparation has begun' says the Howth Yacht Club sailor on his campaign website. He begins his round the world bid this August with an entry in RORC's Round Britan and Ireland race.

The launch pad for Fogerty's campaign was last season's win in a tough edition of the OSTAR Race where Fogerty won the OSTAR and TWOSTAR fleets in the North Atlantic in early June. The solo sailor survived a mid-ocean storm, an achievement that subsequently led to his crowing as Irish Sailor of the Year Award in February at the RDS in Dublin.

'You don't just wake up in the morning and decide you want to do the Vendee Globe', Fogerty says in his promo video below in which he confirms, after sailing some 300,000 miles, that he is 'getting to the point where I'm ready to do the Vendee Globe'.

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 Alistair Skinner:

The Olympic sailing debate rumbles on. If our governing body is to nail most of its colours to the IOC mast please make competition relevant to the sailors of the world. In particular the keelboat side of our sport appears to be considered as an afterthought yet 'ordinary' dinghies apart it is the aspect of our sport 'played' by the majority whether round the cans, coastal or offshore. World sailing appears to be trying to make itself a good fit for the IOC but if we have pride in what we do shouldn't we be considering if the IOC is a good fit for sailing? So much energy is directed at so few classes whether youth or Olympic with the rest appearing to be given scant regard. I grew up with the Enterprise and perhaps the most surprising thing is that as a Non-Olympic class there are over 22,000 of them. You could race it, potter in it, cruise it - it even had a cruising suit of sails if you wished. We worry about falling numbers in the developed sailing countries, well perhaps we need a dramatic rethink of our sport's priorities. It would be a huge shift but isn't it about time we considered why sailing was so huge in the '70's and so dramatically falling today with all the reported increased leisure time we supposedly have? I remember having to queue to get down the slip at EVERY midweek evening race, now the only time you have to do that is at a major regatta. History is a great teacher and something was clearly right back then that isn't quite so right now.

* From Don Street:

Ron Holland's 1/4 tonner that followed Silver Shamrock was not a success. The irrepressible Harry Cudmore's view on her was summed up as he bellied up to the bar after a race and ordered "four beers for the crew and a bone for the boat".

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The Last Word
Our strategy was to give Judge Hoffman a heart attack. We gave the court system a heart attack, which is even better. -- Jerry Rubin

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