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

Awesome 66 - RORC Caribbean 600
Photo by Richard & Rachel / Team Phaedo. Click on image for photo gallery.

66 yachts started the 7th edition of the RORC Caribbean 600, with hundreds of race fans watching the impressive fleet from Fort Charlotte and Shirley Heights. Thousands more are now glued to the tracker and social media feeds. After a classic start in 15 knots of easterly trade winds, the fleet powered past the Pillars of Hercules, heading for Green Island where they will bear away and accelerate towards Barbuda, the only mark of the 600-mile course around 11 stunning Caribbean islands.

Lloyd Thornburg's MOD 70 Phaedo3, with Michel Desjoyeaux and Brian Thompson on board, had a conservative start with Petro Jonker's cruising catamaran, Quality Time crossing the line first. Phaedo3 lit the blue touch paper at Green Island, blasting through the surf at well over 30 knots. The lime-green machine reached Barbuda in less than two hours, well ahead of record pace and eight miles ahead of Peter Aschenbrenner's Irens 63, Paradox.

In the second start, 19 yachts in IRC Two and Three started the 600-mile race. For most of the crews racing in the smaller yachts it will be three or four days before they complete the challenge.

Jonathan Bamberger's Canadian J/145, Spitfire and Joseph Robillard's S&S 68, Black Watch got the best start in the 15 strong fleet racing in IRC One.

The penultimate start featured 21 yachts racing in IRC Zero and Canting Keel, arguably the best fleet of offshore sailing yachts that has ever been seen in the Caribbean. A highly competitive start saw Piet Vroon's Ker 51, Tonnerre 4, win the pin, while Ron O'Hanley's Cookson 50, Privateer took the island shore route to perfection. Farr 100, Leopard sailed by Christopher Bake, also had a great start, controlling the boats to leeward heading for the Pillars of Hercules.

Hap Fauth's Maxi 72, Bella Mente had a sensational first leg of the race, rounding Green Island first out of the IRC Zero class, but all eyes were on George David's Rambler 88, as the powerful sled turned on the after burners. George David's new speed-machine could well break his own monohull course record; at Barbuda Rambler 88 was almost five miles ahead of the ghost track of the record set by Rambler 100.

caribbean600.rorc.org

Race Tracker

EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour
The Oman Sail-organised EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour that began in Muscat, Oman on 15 February, is now at the halfway stage in Dubai at the end of Leg 3 and there is a battle royal at the front of the fleet between the defending champion, EFG Bank (Monaco), the Dutch University team on TU Delft and the Plymouth University team on Team Averda. The glory has not been all theirs though; all-Omani teams Renaissance and Royal Navy of Oman have both had time on the podium with two third places and a 2nd respectively.

With three legs to go on this marathon offshore stage race, Sidney Gavignet's mixed Omani and European team on EFG Bank (Monaco), winners of the latest leg from Ras Al Khaimah to Dubai, have now extended their overall Tour lead with a scoreline that includes three first places.

The strong international presence includes a total of 21 nations represented including France, UK, Switzerland, China, New Zealand, Ireland, Kuwait, Oman and the Netherlands. At 760nm this six-leg race offers a 14-day mix of demanding offshore sailing and intense inport racing.

EFG Bank crewman and Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) winner Damian Foxall from Ireland says he sees the event as an ideal training platform for VOR teams: "The format is a bit like a mini Volvo Ocean Race so you need to pace yourself. I think it compliments the VOR really well."

www.sailingarabiathetour.com/en/home

New Website Helps Connect Sailing Schools With Students
The Boating Hub have launched a new website to help sailing schools advertise their courses, and to make life easier for those looking to take courses around the World.

The Boating Hub is the first and only online portal which collects sailing, motorboat, dinghy, kayak and keelboat course information from operators and presents them to boating enthusiasts of all levels through an easy to use search function.

Whether an amateur looking to pilot their first boat to seasoned professionals looking to sharpen their skills, visitors to The Boating Hub can browse a list of local, national, and international boating and sailing courses.

Training centres and individual instructors around the world that offer boating courses can sign up for free to advertise their offers to a targeted audience of people passionate about learning to sail and other boating disciplines.

To encourage sailing schools to sig up, for a limited time advertisers can add their courses for FREE with unlimited dates, whilst still enjoying the benefits of features such as automatic social sharing and dedicated profile pages.

To find out more about The Boating Hub and advertise your courses for FREE please CLICK HERE.

Spirit Of Hungary Head to Invercargill Pit-Stop as Renault Captur Re-Start Out Of Wellington
After at least four mast climbs between them, Nandor Fa and Conrad Colman have made the hard decision to bring Spirit of Hungary to Invercargill, South Island NZ, for a minimum downtime technical pit stop to remove and then repair or replace a damaged, jammed halyard lock car on their mast.

And as Spirit of Hungary today head for Invercargill, Renault Captur, Jorg Riechers and Sebastien Audigane, left the dock in Wellington, NZ at 0500hrs this morning, completing their technical pit stop required by their broken starboard rudder.

Spirit of Hungary are lying in seventh place in the Barcelona World Race around the world. By pit-stopping they seem set to forego an opportunity to catch or pass Renault Captur which stopped into Wellington and has just started sailing again.

Friends and family of New Zealander Colman will be on the dock to support them and they do not anticipate the pit-stop taking any longer than the mandatory minimum of 24 hours.

www.barcelonaworldrace.org

Another Large Turnout Ahead for the 2015 ORC World Championship
Barcelona, Spain: The Real Club Nautico Barcelona (RCNB) and the Offshore Racing Congress (ORC) announces that with passing of the first pre-entry deadline last weekend, 72 teams from 17 countries on four continents have already registered for the 2015 ORC World Championship being held at RCNB over 27 June - 4 July. Organizers thus anticipate a fifth consecutive year of over 100 entries at this annual offshore World Championship, sanctioned by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).

There is an entry limit imposed of 120 boats, with invitations extended to Pre-Entries based on the yacht's and its skipper's racing records, particularly in previous ORC Championships, as well as the chronological order received.

The 2015 ORC World Championship will feature two days of measurement and practice racing, followed by six days of inshore and offshore racing off the coast of Barcelona. The fleet is divided into three classes, with racing within each class to determine three new offshore World Champion teams. Corinthian prizes are also offered in each division for the top-ranked all-amateur teams.

www.barcelonaorcworlds2015.com

First Look at Oracle Team USA AC45 Turbo
Photo by Erik Simonson, www.pressure-drop.us. Click on image for photo gallery.

A first look at the just splashed AC 45 Turbo which splased in San Francisco Bay today, with all intents and purposes to get her out on her maiden voyage and official begin the testing phase as the team heads towards defending the Cup in 2017!

The boats hull does indeed resemble Artemis racing but the similarities cease there.

In the end, as sometimes is the case, the development gremlins reared their ugly heads and some technical issues kept 4 tied to the dock. With winds picking up from the West for the 1st time in some time, the sailing crew decided that Phantom Foiling is better than no foiling at all and launched the mini-mini trainers for a Presidential celebration!

Photos at www.pressure-drop.us

Grant Dalton Getting That Sinking Feeling
Grant Dalton is sinking fast. Running an America's Cup campaign is a tough business, and too tough for Dalton on the current evidence. In my opinion, he has lacked the necessary charisma to pull the team together and draw the public to his cause.

The team's image is shot. Funding is in disarray. Critically, there are credible reports of division between Dalton and skipper Dean Barker.

Dalton has been a truly outstanding sailor/boss, a round-the-world legend no less. He is one of those amazing people. But he is embodying the Peter Principle that managers reach a level of their incompetence.

Since the stunning defeat to the Coutts' Oracle tidal wave, people have suggested Dalton was distracted by outside issues. Dalton has failed to act decisively or smartly since. His succession plan stinks. He had the chance last year to move Barker - a fine sportsman but one who bore the mark of triple failure - into a solely strategic position and blood Peter Burling, a brilliant young sailor, as the new skipper. Instead, the lines are muddled.

Team NZ have dallied for a year, and eventually controversy took over. Dalton has also failed to win over a fickle public whose attitude to how taxes are spent changes on a wind shift. -- Chris Rattue in the New Zealand Herald

www.nzherald.co.nz

Dubarry Ultima - Quality Always Lasts
It's amazing to think how sailing has changed since Dubarry started making boots in 1937. The first marina arrived in the 1930s but there were no plastic boats to park in it before the 1940s. There was no yacht radar before the 1950s, nor marine diesel engines before the 1960s, also when polyester sailcloth ousted linen and cotton. The 1970s brought instrumentation and the 1980s saw Decca come and go as GPS stole the show. Oiled canvas gave way to PVC, which yielded to GORE-TEX®. Much indeed has changed, yet one thing has stayed the same: nothing signifies a confident, experienced, discerning yachtie like a pair of Dubarry boots.

Developed as a more luxurious, classical and traditional interpretation of the legendary Shamrock, on which the company's reputation was built, the Ultima is Dubarry's flagship boot. Its sole delivers award-winning, sure-footed grip. Its GORE-TEX® liner is waterproof and breathable to keep you warm, dry and comfortable. Its Dry-Fast-Dry-Soft water-resistant leather weathers with grace and distinction, recording every nautical mile of your experience in the gentle, tanned folds of its sumptuous hide. It's clearer than ever that, though times may change, quality always lasts.

Dubarry Ultima - Where will you go in yours?

dubarry.com

No Time To Celebrate
Team SCA (Sam Davies/GBR) found wind pressure on Monday while the rest of the fleet were parked up in the Pacific Ocean to make inroads into their deficit on Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race - but their happiness could be short-lived.

At 1240 UTC, the all-women's crew were just 15.3 nautical miles (nm) behind leaders Dongfeng Race Team (Charles Caudrelier/FRA) and apparently gaining fast on the rest of the fleet who were all within 3.2nm of the Chinese pace-setters.

Over the weekend, Team SCA had been more than 60nm further adrift of the main pack. However, Race meteorologist Gonzalo Infante warned that the Swedish-backed boat were likely to miss out on gathering winds and were in danger of falling back again, with Dongfeng the most ideally placed at the eastern edge of the fleet.

Whatever transpires, the 5,264nm leg from Sanya, China, to Auckland, New Zealand, could not be more intriguingly poised in what is shaping up to be one of the most closely contested legs by the entire fleet in the race's 41 years.

The fleet had just over 1,350nm to sail before reaching the 'City of Sails' on New Zealand's North Island. It is expected to arrive between February 27-28, according to the latest computer predictions at Race HQ.

volvooceanrace.com

Sydney To Pittwater Passage Race
It was a case of slow and steady in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's Grant Thornton Short Haul Series in the race from Sydney to Pittwater today, and Ian Guanaria's patience was rewarded when his One More-No More was declared overall winner of both PHS and IRC classes.

When the gun fired to start the passage race at 11.00am this morning, there were no illusions as to how the day would pan out. With fog starting to roll in, little breeze and the slow water-torture drizzle falling from leaden skies, everyone knew it would be a test of patience.

Only seven of the 14 starters finished the race within the time limit. Guanaria and his Beneteau First 35 were only beaten over the line by Cyrene 3, Michael Selby's X-412 yacht, little more than three minutes separating them.

With the PHS handicaps applied, One-More-No-More was at the top of the leaderboard by just oven seven minutes to Jon Short's Beneteau 40.7, L'Attitude, with Pat and Roberta Easton's Beneteau Oceanis 50, In Cahoots, filing out the top three. Cyrene 3 claimed fourth place overall. Guanaria had the goods again in IRC, beating Cyrene 3 and L'Attitude to the punch. -- Di Pearson

Full results: www.cyca.com.au

Royal Yacht Squadron Bicentenary Regatta
The promise of a spectacle of timeless classic versus cutting edge modern is emerging early in the year as the entries for the Royal Yacht Squadron's Bicentenary start to lay down the gauntlet for the summer of sailing in England's Solent in the last week of July.

Three majestic J-Class Yachts, Velsheda, Ranger and Lionheart (pictured), will line up alongside other historic legends including the 48ft Tomahawk built in 1938 and 52ft Dorade, built in 1929. Both are Sparkman and Stephens designs. From the breathtaking schooner Eleonora at 160ft to the two 8 metre yachts Helen and Enchantement born 1936 and 1923 respectively, the event has been a magnet for the most immaculate and competitive classics in Europe and beyond. Several, including Dorade herself, are racing across the Atlantic from Newport, Rhode Island, to take part in this Royal Yacht Squadron's 200 years celebration.

Entries to date include the mighty 120ft Briand designed sloop Bristolian, mini-maxi Jethou and many well known names in the performance IRC fleets including Ker 46 Tonnere of Breskens, Elan 40 Flair, TP 52 Gladiator, and Grand Soleil 43 Quokka. The Swan class will be represented too - entries include Swan 57 Noonmark VI, which will also be taking part in the Transatlantic Race, and Swan 44 Rosy Pelican.

www.rys.org.uk

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The Last Word
If you're committed enough, you can make any story work. I once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it. -- Saul Goodman

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