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

The Proving Ground
Photo of Luke Patience / Elliot Willis, GBR by Richard Langdon, Ocean Images, www.oceanimages.co.uk. Click on image for photo gallery.

Every aspiring Olympic sailor takes a shot at this ISAF series that travels to the far corners of the world, qualifying gold medal winners and top continent finishers to race at the finale that follows the five-race series. The next competition will take place at Hyeres, France April 20-26. The finale will take place late in 2015 at Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. It's a mini-Olympics for sailors only. You won't see faces in Rio, 2016, that you didn't see on the road to Rio, this road. You won't see racing that is any more competitive. No, just sailors hardened in this crucible, playing for the highest stakes.

This is the proving ground. And as one winner put it, on to the next one.

Final top three by class:

2.4mR - One Person Keelboat
1. Bja Rnar Erikstad, NOR, 16
2. Megan Pascoe, GBR, 17
3. Allan Leibel, CAN, 25

470 - Men's Two Person Dinghy
1. Luke Patience / Elliot WIllis, GBR, 31
2. Mathew Belcher / Will Ryan, AUS, 38
3. Onan Barreiros / Juan Curbelo Cabrera, ESP, 63

470 - Women's Two Person Dinghy
1. Jo Aleh / Polly Powrie, NZL, 15
2. Hannah Mills / Saskia Clark, GBR, 42
3. Al Kondo Yoshida / Miho Yoshioka, JPN, 46

49er - Men's Skiff
1. Nico Delle Karth / Nikolaus Resch, AUT, 72
2. Joel Turner / Iain Jensen, AUS, 81
3. Jonas Warrer / Anders Thomsen, DEN, 85

49erFX - Women's Skiff
1. Alexandra Maloney / Molly Meech, NZL, 150
2. Giulia Conti / Francesca Clapcich, ITA, 203
3. Marine Soffiatti Grael / Kahena Kunze, BRA, 206

Finn - Men's One Person Dinghy
1. Giles Scott, GBR, 27
2. Ivann Kljakovic Gaspic, CRO, 52
3. Jake Lilley, AUS, 60

Laser - Men's One Person Dinghy
1. Philipp Buhl, GER, 59
2. Nick Thompson, GBR, 62
3. Matthew Wearn, AUS, 74

Laser Radial - Women's One Person Dinghy
1. Anne-Marie Rindom, DEN, 47
2. Evi Van Acker, BEL, 53
3. Marit Bouwmeester, NED, 54

Nacra17 - Mixed Multihull
1. Vittorio Bissaro / Silvia Sicouri, ITA, 65
2. Ben Saxton / Nicola Groves, GBR, 102
3. Billy Besson / Marie Riou, FRA, 111

RS:X - Men's Windsurfer
1. Dorian van Rijsselberge, NED, 77
2. Thomas Goyard, FRA, 79
3. Byron Kokkalanis, GRE, 81

RS:X - Women's Windsurfer
1. Bryony Shaw, GBR, 40
2. Lilian de Geus, NED, 71
3. Flavia Tartaglinni, ITA, 93

Skud 18 - Two Person Keelboat
1. Daniel Fitzgibbon / Liesl Tesch, AUS, 13
2. Alexandra Rickham / Niki Birrell, GBR, 17
3. Marco Gualandris / Marta Zanetti, ITA, 22

Sonar - Three Person Keelboat
1. Aleksander Wang-Hansen / Per Eugen Kristiansen / Marie Solberg, NOR, 15
2. Alphonsus Doerr / Brad Kendell / Hugh Freund, USA, 16
3. Paul Tingley / Logan Campbell / Scott Lutes, CAN, 20

www.sailing.org/worldcup/
miami.ussailing.org

Highs And Lows
The Barcelona World Race fleet is today feeling the effects of both extremes of the Indian Ocean.

Leaders Cheminees Poujoulat and Neutrogena are bracing themselves for the possible impact of two cyclonic low pressure systems which could bring 38-40 knots by Monday, with potential for 50-plus knots through Tuesday into Wednesday. The two front-runners are currently separated by around 220 miles with Bernard Stamm and Jean Le Cam the further east, and Guillermo Altadill and Jose Munoz to the north-west of the current pace-setters.

Today both teams have diverged from their previous path of skirting the very southern limits of the Antarctic Exclusion Zone, instead taking a more northerly route, which may offer them more tactical options to avoid the strongest centre of the low as the remnants of Cyclone Diamondra (988mb) tracks south-east across their course. In its wake follows Eunice (985mb), moving in an ESE direction. Both systems should weaken as they meet the colder waters of the south, reducing their sever ity.

By contrast, GAES Centros Auditivos continue to be slowed by the ongoing effects of a high pressure system which has reduced their average pace to just 8.7 knots for the past 24 hours. Fourth placed Renault Captur has reduced the deficit between them to just over 200 miles this afternoon, but Jorg Riechers and Sebastien Audigane are likely to see Sunday morning's 18-knot northerlies decreasing to around 10 knots by the evening.

Rankings at 1400hrs UTC Sunday 1st February 2015

1. Cheminees Poujoulat (B. Stamm - J. Le Cam) at 15,191.1 miles to the finish
2. Neutrogena (G. Altadill - J. Munoz) + 224.4 miles to the leader
3. GAES Centros Auditivos (A. Corbella - G. Marin) + 1,030.7
4. Renault Captur (J. Riechers - S. Audigane) + 1,245.7
5. We Are Water (B. Garcia - W. Garcia) + 1,881.1
6. One Planet, One Ocean & Pharmaton (A. Gelabert - D. Costa) + 2,388.6
7. Spirit of Hungary (N. Fa - C. Colman) + 2,810.7
ABD Hugo Boss (A. Thomson - P. Ribes)

www.barcelonaworldrace.org
fnob.org

Race On A Volvo Open 70 - The Caribbean 600 Challenge
Record-breaking Volvo Open 70 racing charter Monster Project is offering experienced sailors and enthusiastic newcomers a rare opportunity to join our team for the epic RORC Caribbean 600 Race, 21st - 27th February 2015.

Monster Project's Caribbean 600 package includes pre-race training days 17th - 21st February 2015 - where you'll be trained by our Professional Crew and Racing Skipper Andy Budgen, before Monster Project cross the start line on 21st February 2015 and the real adventure begins.

Will you join an international fleet of over 50 yachts, which has now entered the offshore blast around the Caribbean, one of yacht racing's most exhilarating playgrounds with the warm trade winds and a Caribbean swell providing superb sailing conditions. The RORC Caribbean 600 course, starting and finishing in Antigua, is designed to provide a challenging, high speed racetrack.

As an integral part of the crew, experience the thrill of sailing Monster Project's Formula - 1 racing machine. Tackle the worlds elite, and take on tasks such as grinding, hoisting, trimming and even driving a Volvo Open 70 in an extreme racing atmosphere.

This 70 foot technological and architectural masterpiece, forged of carbon fibre and resins, with towering mast, huge square-topped mainsail, twin daggerboards and a canting keel; has a magic combination of displacement, length and sail area and Andrew Budgen, will be skippering the boat to win. Already the battle for Line Honours includes Ragamuffin, Maserati, Rambler 88, Leopard, and of course Monster Project.

For more information on:

- The Caribbean 600 (21 - 27 February 2015)
- St. Maarten Heineken Regatta (5 - 8 March 2015)
- Antigua Sailing Week (25 April - 1 May 2015)
- Fastnet (16 August 2015)
- Transatlantic 2015 Newport, Rhode Island to Cowes, Isle of Wight - held only once every 4 years (5 July 2015)
- Volvo Ocean Race Events

Contact:
info@volvo70charter.co.uk
andy@volvo70charter.co.uk
www.volvo70charter.co.uk

Sailing Dropped From 2020 Paralympics
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced that the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will feature 22 sports, with badminton and taekwondo included for the first time.

At its meeting in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on Saturday (31 January), the IPC Governing Board approved a further six sports for inclusion in the Games, adding to the 16 sports that were ratified and announced after its meeting in October 2014. A maximum of 23 sports could have been included for 2020.

The 22 sports that will be included in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are: athletics, archery, badminton, boccia, canoe, cycling, equestrian, football 5-a-side, goalball, judo, powerlifting, rowing, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, triathlon, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.

The two sports not included in Tokyo 2020 are football 7-a-side and sailing.

* The RYA and US Sailing are not pleased:

"Yesterday's news about Paralympic sailing being dropped from the slate of sports at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games is highly disappointing. Our sport attracts a diverse group of disabled athletes across the world, as demonstrated by the three fleets of sailors from 14 countries competing in Miami last week at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami. US Sailing will join ISAF, IFDS and the national governing bodies of our fellow Paralympic sailing nations to lead an appeal of this decision in the fight for reinstatement of Paralympic sailing at the Tokyo 2020 Games." - Tom Hubbell, President of US Sailing

RYA Statement: This is hugely disappointing news for the sport of disabled sailing worldwide, for British Sailing Team athletes who are already working hard towards Tokyo, and is a loss to the Paralympic Games itself as sailing provides a unique element to the sporting programme.

We will be discussing with ISAF Disabled Sailing Committee as to how we might support them if there is any further recourse to be had, as we understand that there are currently only 22 out of a maximum possible 23 sports on the programme for Tokyo 2020.

In the meantime we'll be doing all we can to get our teams on the podium for Rio 2016.

www.rya.org.uk

New Zealand's Chris Steele Wins the Warren Jones Regatta
Perth, Western Australia: Chris Steele and his crew from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron have won the 2015 Warren Jones International Youth Regatta, beating local skipper Sam Gilmour on a count back after racing in the final was curtailed by light winds.

It was a case of finishing a job that he started three years ago, having finished third in the two previous Warren Jones Regattas, and the victory came after a long and frustrating day afloat on the Swan River, where very light and fickle winds hampered the programme of races.

Steele and his crew of Hamish Hardy, Shane Diveney, Josh Salthouse and Harry Hull were challenged all the way in the testing conditions, being taken to a third race in the quarter-finals by Japan's Kohei Ichikawa. Then in the semi-finals it was Australia's Lachy Gilmour who took them to three races, before he needed a count back to win the final. -- John Roberson

Final results:

1. Chris Steele, Royal New Zealand Y.S.
2. Sam Gilmour, Royal Freshwater Bay Y.C.
3. Henry Kernot (Jay Griffin), Cruising Y.C. of Australia
4. Lachy Gilmour, Royal Freshwater Bay Y.C.
5. Matt Jerwood, South of Perth Y.C.
6. Joachim Aschenbrenner, Royal Dansh Y.C.
7. Kohei Ichikawa, Japan Sailing Federation
8. Peter Holz, Chicago Match Racing Centre
9. Sam Ellis, Cruising Y.C. of Australia
10. Mark Lees, Royal Southern Y.C.
11. Will Boulden, Royal Freshwater Bay Y.C.
12. Malcolm Parker, Royal Prince Alfred Y.C.

www.warrenjonesregatta.org.au

18ft Skiffs NSW Championship, Race 5
Photo by Frank Quealey. Click on image for photo gallery.

Sydney Harbour: The Thurlow Fisher Lawyers team of Michael Coxon, Trent Barnabas and Dave O'Connor won one of the most amazing NSW 18ft Skiff Championships in the 120-year history of the sport following a brilliant finish in today's last race of the series on Sydney Harbour.

The 5-race regatta produced five different winners and Thurlow Fisher Lawyers' victory in the championship came by just 5sec s to spare and with only 50 metres left to sail in today's race.

Although not in contention to win the title, the Smeg team of David Witt, Tom Clout and Matt Wark were superb today as they came from behind to win the race by 50s from Thurlow Fisher Lawyers.

After leading for most of the race and seemingly looking to have the title at their mercy, the Mojo Wine crew (Lee Knapton, Mike McKensey, Ricky Bridge) had to be satisfied with third today and second overall as they came home 5s behind Thurlow.

The President's Trophy will be sailed next Sunday. -- Frank Quealey. Australian 18 Footers League

www.18footers.com

OK, Not Really Sailing But Very Cool...
The use of solar sails has been a dream for spacecraft developers for decades, but it could soon become a reality, thanks to the efforts of a nonprofit organization led by "Science Guy" Bill Nye.

Nye is the CEO of The Planetary Society, a nonprofit group that promotes space exploration, and his team announced on Monday that its privately-funded LightSail spacecraft would embark on its maiden test flight in May.

LightSail is scheduled to be helped into space by an Atlas V rocket blasting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida. Once it reaches orbit, the solar sail satellite will undergo tests of its critical functions in advance of a second mission scheduled for 2016.

While NASA reportedly considered using similar technology in the 1970s for a mission to meet up with Halley's comet in 1986, next year's LightSail mission will mark the first-ever controlled, Earth-orbit solar sail flight, according to The Planetary Society.

The theory behind LightSail's technology is far from new, according to Chang. Equations of electromagnetism published in the 1860s by physicist James Clerk Maxwell explain that when particles of light known as photons bounce off of a shiny surface, they pass along a little bit of momentum. Five years later, in his book From the Earth to the Moon, Jules Verne discussed (hypothetically) how this force could be harnessed for space travel.

www.redorbit.com

Sailbot To Try For Solo Trans-Atlantic Trip
Vancouver, BC, Canada: Sailing across the Atlantic Ocean by wind power alone is an impressive achievement by any standard.

But contending with the unpredictable weather, busy freight traffic, meddlesome fishing nets and treacherous icebergs without anyone in the pilot's seat is another feat entirely.

This summer, a team of engineering students from the University of British Columbia is hoping its 5.5-metre-long boat will sail into the history books as the first seafaring vessel to successfully traverse the Atlantic entirely solo.

"It's been tried many times but never actually successfully," said Kristoffer Vik Hansen, co-captain of the 66-person UBC robotic sailboat - or Sailbot - team.

"Basically we're trying to make a big, big sailboat, make it autonomous and sail it across the Atlantic Ocean."

Come August, the crew plans to launch the still un-christened sailbot off the coast of St. John's, N.L., and hope the vessel survives the 2,900-kilometre, three-week journey to Dingle, Ireland.

As for this summer's trans-Atlantic challenge, once the boat launches the team is not permitted to interfere with its journey. That won't stop them from travelling overseas to celebrate the sailbot's anticipated success.

"When we go over to Ireland and we're out there, waiting for it to come towards us, and we see it coming towards the finish line, that's going to be the moment," said Vik Hansen, smiling broadly.

"That's when the champagne comes." -- Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press

www.comoxvalleyrecord.com

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 Len Davies, Cape Town: Malcolm McKeag's letter questioning whether or not ISAF has a Plan B appears to be out of place - why would the blazered-brigade worry about the effects of the water as much as tarnishing their brass buttons let alone that on the well-being of the sailors when the Old Boy network so efficiently excludes the voice of the competing sailor at time of election?

As to Malcolm's questions - in the absence of any action over the past few years, yes appears to answer both!

* From Kim Klaka, Australia: re: "The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) is pleased to announce that it has signed a Partnership Agreement with the global energy company Gazprom EP International B.V."

Gazprom has a controversial record in matters such as environmental protection but my purpose for writing is not to start a debate about that topic (this is not the place). It is about ISAF's stranglehold on competitive sailing. If a regatta gains a sponsor you find objectionable then you have the option of "voting with your feet" and simply not joining that regatta. But if the controlling body itself picks up a sponsor you don't like, what option do you have other than to leave the sport? It doesn't matter whether it is Gazprom, Sea Shepherd, Haliburton or Greenpeace, you can end up implicitly supporting an entity you find objectionable.

I can't help thinking that ISAF needs much stricter criteria than regatta organisers do for signing agreements such as this.

Indeed, should they be signing partnership agreements of any sort?

* From Sadi Claeys, Past-vice president ISAF: I wish to answer to the letter from Malcolm McKeag concerning the waters in Rio.

re: Blaming ISAF for the pollution in the water in Rio.

If you know the rules you would not blame ISAF. This is too easy.

In the bid process, the International Federations may give their arguments concerning the site.

Once the city is choosen by IOC, the city of Rio is responsable for the site.

I remember that IYRU made comments concerning the pollution in Barcelona. This was mostly solved by the city at the Games in 1992.

ISAF is still responsable for the appointment of the race officials, the jury, the measurers etc.

Not for the toilets in Rio.

I am well very concerned about the situation and the health of our athletes. It is a shame for Rio. IOC should take the appropriate actions to protect their athletes.

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The Last Word
The more walking-around money I have, the less I walk around. -- Iggy Pop

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