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 editor@scuttlebutteurope.com

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Abu Dhabi Wins Capetown In-Port Race
Ian Walker's offshore leaders proved to the rest of the seven-strong fleet that they are currently masters closer to land too, winning the Cape Town In-Port race on Saturday after yet another thrilling finish.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing already lead the hunt for the Volvo trophy after claiming victory in Leg 1 last week and now they are looking to be serious contenders for the in-shore series silverware.

The fleet was split from the start in challenging conditions in Table Bay, under the famous Table Mountain, with winds veering dramatically between 12 and 20 knots and rain clouds threatening throughout.

Ian opted for a port line early in the sprint for the first mark and it paid immediate dividends as they and Team SCA raced clear.

After some 20 minutes of racing on Saturday, they already looked like they had the points in the bag, especially after one of the rivals for the in-port series prize, Team Alvimedica, suffered a tear in their jib.

Charlie Enright's team had triumphed in the opening in-port race in Alicante back on October 4 but this victory puts Abu Dhabi now back on top of the points table with three (lowest is best). The battle for second place soon grabbed the attention of most with Team SCA and Team Brunel in a rare old shootout after the Dutch found a burst of pressure midway round.

www.volvooceanrace.com

Guest Editorial: Ding Ding - Round 2!
The real VOR game resets and each team will bounce out of their corners with renewed energy and cunning coaching advice. As we know, the real stars of Leg 1 were the Fengsters. When Mark Turner, still the cleverest impresario in sailing, looked for experts to train the Chinese in offshore racing, he didn't go for Brits, or Americans - he went for French.

The skill of French offshore racers came home to me at the finish of the Route du Rhum in Guadaloupe. To see the "Ultimes", massive trimarans, ghosting into Pointe-à-Pitre after 3,500 miles smashing their way across the Atlantic, controlled by a singlehanded sailor, was awesome.

Yann Guichard admitted that perhaps a 130ft tri was about 30ft too long for a solo sailor... And Sidney Gavignet on Oman was kicking himself that he got pipped at the post by Lionel Lemnonchois, who sneaked along the beaches under Sid's nose in the dark. Lionel has won this race twice before. I guess he learned the hard way.

Before these dudes turned up, Loick Peyron came barrelling in to take line hours and the race record on Banque Pop's latest 100ft tri. Wow! Andi Robertson, who writes so brilliantly for the race, tells me that was Loick's 49th Atlantic crossing.

The inside story will be on Shirley's Robertson's CNN Mainsail next month, which is THE most insightful regular TV programme on sailing. CNN's own website is a little confusing, but Shirley's own site lists the past six months worth of shows in easily clickable form: shirleyrobertson.com/mainsail/

That's some good winter viewing right there...

Comparing the starts of the VOR and RdR was unusual for me. I flew to Alicante with daughter Frances on a whim. I'd never seen a VOR start. Luckily there were plenty of Easyjet seats left, and I couldn't believe the amount of hotel availability. The poshest hotel in town, the Amerigo, a stone's throw from the race village, with a Michelin starred tapas bar, had loads of rooms at incredible prices. Smooth.

I felt pretty cool walking in there with Francey at 11:30pm Thursday before the start, handing over my hotels.com booking - oh yeah, who's the Daddy?

"Excuse me Senor Fox. Your booking is for the 9th, 10th and 11th of December. This is October. There's a big sailing race in town, we're fully booked, so sorry..."

Doh! Frances snickered while riding around on my suitcase. Those wriggly little numbers!!! I hope she inherited her mother's brains.

The wonderful reception staff at Hospes Amerigo then performed a small miracle. A room appeared from nowhere, available for three nights, they charged a half rate when I pleaded poverty; it was rather more than the December rate.

We had an awesome time! Frances interviewed Dee Caffari for BBC Children's Newsround. They both did a great job. Girls deserve heroes too.

The Alicante start was impressive, with big crowds, over 300,000. Then the St Malo start was mindblowing, with massive crowds, over 2 million. That's a passionate sailing audience for you.

I asked le fantastique Sidney Gavignet why there's such interest in France for this four yearly bash. This interview was for Scuttlebutt USA, but half way through we hear about Oman's intention to enter the next Volvo Race. Bit of a scoop. Subject to terms and conditions etc. One that King Knut might want to watch:

Finally, re France, Mich Des jumps off Mapfre and Iker and Xabi hire and fire their navigator. Radical changes. My heart is still with SCA, me and Francey love our pink caps, but despite coming last in Leg 1, my money is still on the Spaniards. They are ruthless, rugged, relentless. Ian starts Leg 2 with an even bigger target on his back. He's still broad shouldered enough. But there are some very sharp blades on that start line, honed by 6,500 nautical miles of North and South Atlantic. I would expect more than a few cuts and bruises by the end of this next leg. Ding ding - round 2!

Digby Fox - livethestory.com

Sailing Legends - The Story of the World's Greatest Ocean Race
A special numbered limited edition signed by the authors to make the perfect Christmas gift

The Whitbread Round the World Race - now the Volvo Ocean Race - spans 40 years, ten races and more than 300,000 miles across the most inhospitable seas. From gentlemanly competition in yachts designed more for graceful living than screaming around Cape Horn, the race has progressed to purpose built craft with few creature comforts, crewed by fanatical, professionals.

Millions have been spent, legends created and six men have died. No one takes the race lightly and no one tells the story better than journalists, Bob Fisher and Barry Pickthall who have been there for every race from the first in 1973. They mark the anecdotes, highlight all the major stories, and provide biographies of sailing's greatest names from the first handicap and line honour winners, Ramon Carlin and Sir Chay Blyth, to double winner Conny van Rietschoten, French legend Eric Tabarly, those great New Zealand rivals Sir Peter Blake and Grant Dalton, through to the latter day Volvo race winners. They also detail the awesome advances in design and construction that make today's yachts formidably tough, surfing greyhounds capable of hitting 40knots + and sustaining 600 mile daily runs. The book also lists every crewmember to have taken part.

176 pages. 128 colour pictures and illustrations.

By Bob Fisher and Barry Pickthall - Endeavour Books
£40 + postage and packing

Order online: www.southatlanticpublishing.com/sl_intro.htm

Armel Tripon Finishes Fourth IMOCA
In the humid heat of the tropics, in the middle of the Saint Malo Night, Armel Tripon (For Humble Heroes) crossed the finishing line of La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe in fourth position. His is a good result for a first IMOCA 60 race and hs first Route du Rhum, one which will still give inspiration to the 49 sailors in the fourt different classes which are still racing. Tripon crossed the finish line of the 10th Route du Rhum line - Destination Guadeloupe13 days 14 hours 4 minutes and 4 seconds to complete the course of 3542 miles at an average speed of 10.86 knots. He actually traveled 4123 miles at an average 12.65 knots.

His delta to first placed François Gabart is 1 day 9 hours 25 minutes and 9 seconds. Armel who was attending his first Route du Rhum IMOCA on the former Groupe Bel has managed his race well. He finished fourth behind the experienced, established trio (Gabart / Beyou / Guillemot). He arrived at Pointe-à-Pitre happy joined quickly by his supporters and a very large audience on the Victory Square, ready to enjoy Saturday Night.

IMOCA Class

1. Macif, Francois Gabart, arrived 14/11/2014 At 18:38:55
2. Maitre Coq, Jeremie Beyou, arrived 15/11/2014 At 02:11:18
3. Safran, Marc Guillemot, arrived 15/11/2014 At 15:59:20
4. For Humble Heroes, Armel Tripon, arrived 16/11/2014 At 04:04:04
5. Bureau Vallee, Louis Burton, arrived 16/11/2014 At 15:33:44
6.Team Plastique - Afm Telethon, Alessandro Di Benedetto, 515.9 nm to finish
7. Initiatives Coeur, Tanguy De Lamotte, 617.7 nm

Abandoned:
PRB, Vincent Riou
Votre Nom Autour Du Monde, Bertrand De Broc

www.routedurhum.com

* Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is still in third position tonight despite a very tiring 24 hours in the Route du Rhum - Destination Guadeloupe Race.

A thrilling battle for the third podium is taking place, and Sir Robin has been within a mile of rival Jean-Paul Froc on Groupe Berto at times in the past 24 hours. He says the fight is very stimulating and exciting.

Sir Robin is now 71 miles behind the second-placed boat, Wilfrid Clerton's Cap Au Cap Location, and 29 miles ahead of fourth-placed Andrea Mura on Vento di Sardegna.

There have been plenty of rain squalls and fickle, dying wind to contend with over the past 24 hours. He is currently making 5.2 knots in around 8 knots of Easterly breeze.

Follow the sailors on the race tracker

18ft Skiffs Chris Webb Memorial Trophy
Sydney Harbour: Winds gusting to 40-knots forced Australian 18 Footers League officials to abandon today's Chris Webb Memorial Trophy 18ft Skiff race on Sydney Harbour.

Despite the conditions, the Smeg team of David Witt, Tom Clout and Matt Wark decided to show their heavy weather skill and took to the harbour alone.

For those of us who could remember back to Witt's very first race as a 17-year-old in 1988 it was no surprise.

On that day he took an old skiff in conditions not unlike that of today and finished second, behind Michael Walsh's Prudential in a race for the club championship.

Next Sunday is Race 3 of the Australian 18 Footers League Club Championship, with the club's usual spectator ferry leaving Double Bay Wharf at 2.15pm. -- Frank Quealey

www.18footers.com.au
www.18footerstv.com

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club Around The Island Race
In spite of a lack of mooring space at Kellett Island which meant that most competitors had a very early start to look forward to, 248 entrants found their way from all corners of the region to the Victoria Harbour start of this year's Around the Island Race.

Race officer Inge Strompf-Jepsen and DRO Brenda Davies had 90 minutes of start sequence to look forward to on two lines, with a strong ebb tide and very little breeze to play with. Nevertheless, all classes started as planned, with no general recalls but plenty of individual boats called OCS. Most of those opted not to try and fight their way back to the line, preferring to accept a 5% time penalty instead.

There were eyes everywhere on the 26nm course and Strompf-Jepsen was constantly kept abreast of wind conditions. With steady, if unexciting, breeze through beyond Stanley Gate, she toyed with the idea of allowing the boats to continue to Green Island however with only 0-2kts at Cyberport and with RP72 Jelik in sight, a shortened course at Ap Lei Chau was considered to be the best course of action.

Jelik claimed line honours just under 3 hours after her start, with TP52 FreeFire a worthy second on the water some 17 minutes later. From then on, a wall of spinnakers descended on the finish line until the final boat, Shahna Bacal, crossed just before 1600hrs.

Provisional results show 420 RHKYC 'Sharks' sailors Calum Gregor and Wilhelm Christensson coming out on top of the ATI results, with another 420, Sea School 1 helmed by Ka Chun SIU in second place and Etchells Jezebel helmed by Peter Backe in third.

The provisional results are published at www.rhkyc.org.hk/atirresults.aspx

Seahorse December 2014
What's in the Latest Edition Of Seahorse Magazine

World news
France replaces New Zealand (ouch) as the most populous Volvo Race nation, stonking Class 40 line-up in the Rhum, Andrew Reid turns to Brett Bakewell-White for his new racer, reflections from outgoing Yachting Australia CEO Phil Jones and ISAF lights the blue touchpaper... Blue Robinson, Ivor Wilkins, Patrice Carpentier, Dobbs Davis

Seahorse build table - Branching out (and up)
Matteo Polli has drawn a very pretty and pretty fast new 34-footer for Italia Yachts

RORC news
Eddie Warden-Owen

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Flares Training Course
The Six Bells Sailing Club, Lymington, have run another of their popular November training evenings for the correct use of flares.

It is clear that with the wide selection of flares available and with what seems little or no uniformity of design or application, these instructional evenings are really useful for the safety of boat users.

The first impression gained by all participants was the complete confusion in shapes, markings, instructions and methods of operation. Instructions are in minute writing in many languages or in tiny diagrams. The chance of operating a flare correctly in a life raft in a force 6 at night appears impossible, without extensive training and experience.

Hand flares for instance, are ignited by either pulling a lever or cord at the top or at the bottom, depending on the manufacturer. Clearly this could cause confusion and put operators at risk.

All these flares had differing instructions, some with small text that could not be read at night and differing methods of ignition: top or bottom, strike or pull!

Rocket flares can be equally as confusing with various methods of launching them, either with pull cords or levers. In the dark and disorientated it might even be possible to fire the rocket downwards with possibly fatal consequences.

These examples all feature differing methods of ignition: strike, pull, and lever. Where to hold was not made clear on most!

Smoke flares also suffered from a variety differing body shapes, confusing instructions and ignition systems.

The Six Bells Sailing Club will pass their findings to the Royal Yachting Association with a plea for a move towards standardisation.

www.sixbellssc.co.uk

Letters To The Editor - editor@scuttlebutteurope.com
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 Michael Brown: Please can someone tell me what benefits will flow from the International Sailing Summit & the World Yacht Racing Forum for the average amateur yachtsman. We do, after all, form the majority of the sailing fraternity by a long way & put money into sailing in all its manifestations, are we even represented? Or am I being unduly cynical to think that maybe they are there to ensure that yet more money is available for "professionals"?

* From John F Crebbin: If ladies hadn't been in sailing many years ago many of us males would have found another sport. Mind you I do remember a pivotal point when one of our club sailors went to a Silhouette regatta in the 60's and came back enthusing that the class had held a ladies passage race.

* From Len Davies, Cape Town: The opening weeks of the Route du Rhum have once again been filled with the dramas, incidents and upsets this race presents with each edition.

The number of retirements has now sadly climbed to some 23 entries for various reasons. The official website fails to illustrate the reasons for individual retirements and appears to have announced these rather selectively and with an apparent primary interest in French competitors. In addition, the website appears to be a little light of content with regard to competitors other than the immediate leaders.

The website further offers no insight into competitors still subject to a hearing at the hands of the International Jury - a case in point is that where a statement detailing an incident has been lodged by the Class 40 "Swish" against fellow Class 40 entrant "Le Conservateur". The latter, on Port and to Weather, failed to keep clear of the former resulting in a collision pulling the spreader bar through the rig leaving "Swish" with no option but to secure the rig and motor to a safe haven. "Le Conservateur" in the meanwhile, having acknowledged culpability, continues to sail amongst the Class leaders en route to Guadeloupe with no sign of pending protest being noted by the Jury against her position report on the website.

I wonder if other protests resulting from early-race incidents have been lodged? I have been unable to identify any notice of protests in my scouring of the official website.

Surely the International Jury should by now have at least posted a schedule of intended hearings in order to keep the race followers informed.

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The Last Word
In politics stupidity is not a handicap. -- Napoleon Bonaparte

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