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

A Great Day
Photo by Ingrid Abery, www.ingridabery.com. Click on image for photo gallery.

Florida Keys, Key West: It probably won't be a late night on Duval Street for the sailors competing on Division 2 and 3 at Quantum Key West Race Week 2015. After doing three races in strong winds on Thursday, there are no doubt a lot of sore muscles, aching bones and tired bodies.

Not that anyone was complaining. Light winds on Wednesday led to just one race on Division 2 and 3, and organizers with Premiere Racing were keen to make up for that on Thursday. So the six classes competing on those two courses were sent out an hour early so the race committee could take advantage of east-southeasterly winds that held steady between 10 and 15 knots.

"The wind was absolutely gorgeous, and also quite stable. We never moved a mark during a race all day," said Wayne Bretsch, principal race officer for Division 3. "It was just a beautiful day for sailboat racing. The only way I would have enjoyed myself more is if I was racing."

It was surprising to see reigning J/70 World and North American champion Tim Healy sitting in 15th place two days into the regatta. Perseverance skipper Bennet Greenwald predicted that Healy would battle back to be there in the end and he was spot on.

Healy and his crew aboard Helly Hansen have steadily climbed into second place in the 54-boat fleet, making a major move on Thursday thanks to a tremendous score line of 2-2-1.

Healy, president of North Sails One-Design, captured J/70 class at Quantum Key West in 2013 and 2014. The veteran professional said the fact he had to fight back into contention is further evidence the fleet is getting deeper and stronger.

Heavy air made for some spectacular racing in the GC 32 class with the foiling catamarans simply flying up and down the course. French skipper Erik Maris said his boat achieved 25 knots of speed while foiling downwind.

Competition in IRC 1 class tightened up before the three mini maxis left the dock on Thursday. Bella Mente, the Judel-Vrolijk 72-footer skippered by Hap Fauth of Minneapolis, had received redress from the International Jury on Wednesday night after running aground on a shipwreck.

That redress hearing was reopened on Thursday morning and new facts were presented that prompted the Jury to reverse its decision to award average points to Bella Mente for Races 5 and 6, reinstituting the did not finish and third place results the boat originally posted and propelling Numbers into a tie for the overall lead.

Friday is the final day of racing.

Event Blog: premiere-racing.com/2015blog/
Event Website and full results: wwww.premiere-racing.com

Abu Dhabi's Former VOR Yacht Destroyed By Fire
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing's former Volvo Ocean Race yacht has been destroyed by a fire at its shipyard in France.

As Italian nautical news site Solovela reports, firefighters battled through incredible heat and toxic fumes last Friday night (16 January) to put out the blaze that engulfed the VOR 70 Azzam.

The yacht - which placed fifth in the last edition of the Volvo Ocean Race with a crew including current race skipper Ian Walker and bowman Justin Slattery - was being stored in a shed at a naval shipyard in Cogolin, on the French Riviera near Saint-Tropez.

The intense heat of the fire left little to salvage from the Italian-built yacht, melting most of the hull and leaving only the boom intact.

afloat.ie/sail/

Dubarry Crosshaven - 'Race Face' Protection
It's pitch-black. We're on the wind halfway across the Irish Sea, heading for 'The Rock' in a Force 6 - and it's building. On the rail we might look like a troop of Japanese snow monkeys on valium but we've huddled into something like comfort when skip calls the headsail change we've been dreading for the last five minutes. Three minutes later I'm clipped on with my feet on the leeward toerail with an armful of changed foresail when a wave engulfs the foredeck. The water clears and I'm still onboard thanks to the combined efforts of my tether and the stanchion lodged in my crotch. Lucky me.

Sail change over I'm back on the rail but my feet are cold and wet and my enthusiasm for this caper ebbs quickly away, unlike the sea water - the boots were still wet a week after the finish in Plymouth. It's 1989 and, though the stylishly weathered Shamrock boot is much in evidence, the Crosshaven is but a dream. Had I been wearing Crosshavens, the gaiter and drawstring would have kept my feet dry and my race face on. Funny how something so simple can be so incredibly effective.

Dubarry Crosshaven - Born at sea

dubarry.com

Buoyant Classes at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week
While much of the press coverage around Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week tends to be centred on the biggest boats, or a handful of very big fleets, the experience for most competitors is focussed on the smaller fleets that make up the bulk of the 35-40 classes that race at the event each year.

Many of these fleets are seeing an upturn in numbers, which in turn have helped boost White Group entries by more than 10 per cent since 2012. Much of this growth has been driven by established classes including Dragons (up 23 per cent in 2014), SB20s (up 33 per cent), Etchells (up 50 per cent), J/80s (up 72 per cent) and Flying 15s (up by almost double).

Before the global recession, in addition to the popular XOD class that still shows a healthy entry of 80-plus boats, there was also frequently a trendy design that boosted overall numbers. In the late 1970s this was the J/24, followed by Hunter 707s, Melges 24, and Laser SB3s (now SB20s).

However, no class launched in the last decade has, as yet, reached a sufficient size to rival the scale of participation that these classes saw at the height of their heyday, although there are strong signs that will change over the next few seasons.

The J/70, for instance, has steadily increased in number since it first appeared at the regatta in 2013. A further 60 boats are anticipated to be delivered to UK owners by the time of next year's regatta, including a fleet of 12 for the Royal Thames Yacht Club and Royal Yacht Squadron that will be based in Cowes.

Two other new designs that are worth keeping an eye on raced for the first time in the regatta in the handicap Sportsboat class for the first time in 2014. These are the canting keel SK2 and the VX One, both boats that can be bought new for around £20,000. A trio of the latter proved to be exceptionally successful, taking three of the top four places in the class overall last year. -- Rupert Holmes

The 2015 Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week takes place from 8-15 August.

www.aamcowesweek.co.uk

West Kirby And Magdalen College School Dominate Team Racing Trials
West Kirby Hawks and Magdalen College School came out on top at an RYA Selection Trials event for the 2015 ISAF Team Racing World Championships, held this past weekend (17-18 January) at Rutland Sailing Club.

The event, held at the site of the Worlds venue this July, saw ten adult teams and five youth teams race a total of 64 races amid 7-12 knot conditions - including one critical re-sail - on Saturday's opening day, with six adult teams and four youth teams then invited to continue the Trials process on Sunday.

With an original trials weekend from 10-11 January unable to be held due to adverse weather, the RYA will now determine whether or not to select its two adult and two youth teams for the Worlds based on the 17-18 January event results, or to continue the trials process.

Adults - final four
1. West Kirby Hawks (Andy Cornah-Graeme Walker; Ben Field-Tom Foster; Dom Johnson-Debs Steele)
2. Royal Forth Hoosiers (Mark Powell-Isobel Walker; Robert Friend-George Clark; Tim Saxton-Holly Scott)
3. Bristol University (James Grant-James Duncalfe; Cameron Douglas-Sarah Lombard; Phil Sparks-Henry Forward)
4. Cambridge University (Tim Gratton-Hannah Bibby; Arthur Henderson-Thomas Maxwell; Josh Flack-Francine Counsell)

Youth - final four
1. Magdalen College School (Owen Hallett-Adam Rathnell; Tom Elder-Tom Daggitt; Gabriel Ing-James Tomlinson)
2. Sevenoaks School (George Haynes-James Rudd-Jones; Alice Kidd- Remi Pfister; Hamish Oliver-Isabella Gordon
3. WKSC Highlanders (Octavia Owen-Amber Riggs; Ruby Riggs-Hene Hemming; Alex Middleton-Alex Williams)
4. RHS 1 (Alexander Slatter-Phoebe Twigg; Tom Joice-Luke Bailey; Alex Platt-Freya Harris)

www.rya.org.uk

Industry News
Contest Yachts in the Netherlands has announced that it is working with judel/vrolikj & co as part of a long-term partnership agreement. The Dutch builder of semi-custom performance racing yachts recently unveiled its latest model, the Contest 67CS, which is the first yacht to be designed in collaboration with the renowned design firm.

The sail plan on the Contest 67CS has a mast height over the water of nearly 32m and the rig layout offers several sail combinations, ranging from jibs, jib-tops and code zero options to different gennaker sizes. An in-mast furling section is also possible.

Contest Yachts is a family owned builder of semi-custom performance cruisers from 42ft-72ft in length. The company is based in Medemblik in the north of Holland.

https://plus.ibinews.com

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Paul Birch has been appointed managing director of Bluefin subsidiary Bishop Skinner Marine, a UK provider of yacht and leisure craft insurance. Birch replaces Bill Southgate, who is retiring after 42 years with the business.

Having spent 25 years in the commercial marine and yacht insurance sector, Birch brings a wealth of experience to the role. For nearly seven years he was the marketing & business development manager of the yacht division of Amlin, with responsibility for raising brand awareness and growing income. He also spent over two years at Devitt Insurance Services Ltd, where he was responsible for managing its small craft account.

Birch joins Bishop Skinner Marine from Velos Insurance Services Ltd, where he has been an underwriter for the last four years.

https://plus.ibinews.com

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OneSails is now offering FSI evaluations and has achieved ISO environmental certification; yet another step in leading the industry in carbon footprint reduction.

Fluid Structural Interaction (FSI) analysis combines aerodynamic analysis (Computational Fluid Dynamics or CFD, which involves the simulation of wind tunnel testing to determine wind pressure and aerodynamic forces) with structural analysis. In other words, it predicts how sails will deform under wind pressure and rig interaction, then studies the aerodynamic forces generated.

OneSails International Ltd. achieved ISO environmental certification for its new 4T FORTE sail technology meeting the standards of ISO 14040 - 14044 of the LCA-Life Cycle Assessment.

This means 4T FORTE sails produce almost 60% fewer CO2 emissions than a Dacron sail. With this ISO certification, in addition to 4T FORTE being 100% recyclable, OneSails is leading the industry in carbon footprint reduction with a seriously environmentally friendly sail technology.

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The 2015 London Boat Show saw a rise in attendance for the first time in four years, show organisers are reporting.

The Excel Centre event welcomed 92,288 visitors over ten days, making for a 4% increase over 2014's figure of 88,593.

Bringing back the press preview day (Friday 9 January) proved a popular move, with large crowds flocking to the London Boat Show to see special guest Nicole Scherzinger launch the Sunseeker Predator 57.

Other key boat launches that took place at the show included the Fairline Shadow S and the Jeanneau Velasco 37F. Meanwhile industry giant Beneteau made its comeback after a four-year absence.

www.mby.com/news/

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Merrill Stevens Yachts in Miami has established a website, Cuba-Yacht.com, for US citizens who want to charter yachts to Cuba. After the announcement of an easing of the travel and trade embargo against Cuba by President Barack Obama's administration, US citizens can now travel to Cuba without gaining permission from the US Treasury Dept.

Miami-based Merrill Stevens said in a press release that it can now legally book yachts for charter to Cuba without a special license.

Paul Madden, a charter broker with the firm, says he has traveled to Cuba four or five times. "This new wave of visitors will not find adequate hotels or restaurants," he said in the statement. "Nor can they always expect to have secure Internet or suitable meeting spaces."

Madden said visitors or business travelers can charter 60ft express motoryachts to 300ft superyachts for visiting the island nation. He added that a yacht would provide high-speed satellite communications and five-star accommodations.

plus.ibinews.

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The growing interest in boating and yachting in and around Londonderry, Northern Ireland, has generated two studies looking at the development of new facilities in the city and wider afield in Lough Foyle. Its participation in the Clipper Round the World race and Londonderry being the City of Culture last year, has attracted more yachts to the area and this rising demand has led to the two studies regarding marine tourism infrastructure.

The local study is being undertaken by the City Council and is reviewing the potential need to expand the size of the Foyle Marina. It is expected that this study will be completed within three months.

The wider study is being oversee by the Loughs Agency for which the development of marine tourism is one of its main objectives. The study, which involves a number of other interested organisations, is looking at the marine tourism infrastructure in Lough Foyle and is expected to be completed in June. The study may also consider marine commercial activity opportunities. European money through a Structural Funds Programme - INTERREG IVA - will be used to fund it.

plus.ibinews.com

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Two years after a putsch against the Irish Sailing Association (ISA) a new five-year strategic plan has put the association on a new tack. It comes at a time when Ireland's 100 yacht clubs are seeking a much needed lift.

If nothing else the blueprint serves as written confirmation the ISA no longer sees itself purely in a "national governing body" role but in the same boat as the clubs and classes it was set up to serve. The plan is based on the views that were put to a "Strategic Review Group" in 2013 that assessed how the association needed to adjust to better serve the sport.

Its author Neil Murphy, a former ISA president, says the underlying principle is moving from a "governance approach" to one of the principal stakeholders in the sport "working together with a goal of encouraging and developing participation".

It's still just a plan on paper - not yet on water - and for this master plan to work it must first get the buy-in of a 17,000-plus strong sailing community, spread across a network of clubs on lakes, rivers and around the coast. -- David O'Brien in The Irish Times

www.irishtimes.com

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The Royal Ocean Racing Club and North Sails announce their continued coaching partnership following the successful European debut of North U. Regatta Services at the 2014 RORC Easter Challenge. North's performance analysis team will be back to offer expert advice at the RORC's three-day training regatta in Cowes this Easter between Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th April 2015.

North U. Regatta Services has been growing over the last four years at regattas in the United States, including over 20 events in 2014. This service provides coaching and performance analysis to all competitors, free of charge, at select events worldwide. The RORC Easter Challenge is one of very few regattas where the rules are altered to allow coaching whilst racing.

Crews taking part are able to seek the advice of a coaching team led for the past 10 years by British coaching guru, Jim Saltonstall. For the second year running, the team will be augmented by North's highly trained sailing performance analysts, Andreas Josenhans and Chuck Allen.

rorc.org

Featured Brokerage
1992 Cookson VOR 60. 220000 Euros. Located in Saint Martin.

CUBA LIBRE is one of the first generation Volvo Ocean 60s. It was drawn by Bruce Farr and built in 1992 at Cookson Boats in New Zealand as one of two yachts. CUBA LIBRE, ex-Heineken, is a sporty and fast yacht that is still capable of winning regattas today. The interior of the ship is an unusual set up for a racer, with three double cabins and a separate shower and toilet. It also offers a modern galley and a spacious living room with tables. The flat screen can be used for the debriefing of a race as well as for presentations. The stereo makes for good entertainment.

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See the RaceboatsOnly.com collection at seahorsemagazine.com/brokerage/

The Last Word
Education has failed in a very serious way to convey the most important lesson science can teach: skepticism. -- David Suzuki

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