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

Gaastra Palmavela: First Leaders
Photo by Ingrid Abery, www.ingridabery.com. Click on image for photo gallery.

Today the twelfth edition of the Gaastra PalmaVela regatta began and continues until next Sunday in the bay of Palma. The first leaders of the Gaastra PalmaVela 2015 are: J One in the Wally class, Interlodge in TP52, Jethou in Maxi 72 and Grupo Clinico Dr. Luis Senis in IRC.

The first day of competition sent to the Bay of Palma four of the 17 classes participating: Wally, Maxi 72, TP52 and IRC. 21 of the 140 boats from 16 different nationalities sailed today.

The Race Committee managed to sail the two races scheduled for each class with a southerly breeze and intensity between five and 10 knots.

The competition will return tomorrow at 12h00 with a new bunch of races for the classes which sailed today and with the debut of the one designs J80, Flying Fifteen and Dragon, the ORC, Classic and Vintage. In total, more than a hundred boats are brought together to put on a great show in the bay of Palma. The disabled sailing participants (2.4, Hansa 303 individual and Hansa 303 double) will debut on Saturday.

Full results:
www.palmavela.com

RIO 2016: Inshore Or Offshore
The implications of a change to offshore courses rather than inshore courses for sailors are very significant. It would mean that Guanabara Bay pre-Olympic training time would be meaningless.

ISAF Sailor of the Year 2013 Mat Belcher told Sail-World that he was surprised at the Rio Test Event 2014 just how much the offshore conditions, sailing by the 470 fleet where like sailing outside Sydney Heads. 'We had two-metre seas. It was a lot of fun for Australian sailors' he said.

If in fact Alastair Fox's threat to move all the racing offshore well within ISAF's brief then the time spent by sailors this far learning the intricacies of Guanabara Bay will have been wasted.

This event, Rio 2016, will in one stroke change from being a light weather inshore venue to an open water venue not seen in recent years.

All of a sudden time in Rio will take on another perspective and certainly a course change would play into the hands of Australian and New Zealand sailors who brought up in windy conditions come to the front when it blows.

Additionally an offshore venue would provide challenges for the Nacra 17s and the 49ers. Both of these high-speed craft are super sensitive in strong sea ways.

For Rio aspirants, the uncertainty level just went thru the roof

Inshore? Offshore? When will they know?

Where to train? Lake Garda, Biscayne Bay, Guanabara Bay? Santander outside courses? Weymouth outside courses? -- Rob Kothe and the Sail-World.com team

www.sail-world.com

Seahorse June 2015
What's in the Latest Edition Of Seahorse Magazine

Design - Oak trees and acorns
Tristan Vanderhaeghe and a keen group of Canadian students in Montreal intend to be on the startline of the next Little America’s Cup...

A rough guide
Miranda Merron on the trials and pitfalls of preparing a Class40 for the Route du Rhum

Big task - little time
Brandon Linton and his build team did a pretty remarkable job in delivering the 100-footer Comanche within a rather challenging timeframe

Spreading the word
The new Vismara 46 Mills

It’s twins - well, not quite
Two more glam TP52s from Persico

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'70 Per Cent Rebuild, In Half The Time'
Most of Team Vestas Wind crew members have been reunited in Bergamo, Italy, at the Persico shipyard where the rebuilt process progresses swiftly and on a very tight schedule to make it possible for the boat to be in Lisbon, ready to join in for the last legs of the Volvo Ocean Race

The shed at Persico Marine in Bergamo, Italy, is bustling with activity with dozens of people working on the different parts of the re-born Vestas Wind boat and, with most the team now reunited on site, the final works and preparations have even been pushed forward.

With less than one month to go to the Lisbon stopover, the schedule is tighter than ever - another race against time since the blue boat crashed on a coral reef in the Indian Ocean on November 29 during Leg 2.

"We managed to build 70% of the boat in half of the time that would normally be needed." explained shore manager Neil Cox.

"The hull is totally new, 60% of the internal structures have been replaced, while we managed to keep some 70% of the original deck. The deck was the only part that hasn't been produced here, but at Multipast in France."

The boat was deconstructed piece by piece before the real re-built process could begin, with the help of a highly specialised team of up to 24 people coming from all over the world, working in shifts.

The trip from Northern Italy to Lisbon could take as long as seven days and the possibility of having the boat transported by ferry to Spain is being evaluated.

"The new mast and the bulb will be awaiting for us in Portugal, then we'll have three or four days on the cradle to fit all the remaining parts, do the necessary tests and hopefully be ready for sailing a couple of days before the Lisbon in-port race." said Cox.

Fog Forces Cancellation Of Racing At Extreme Sailing Series In Qingdao
Persistent heavy fog and poor visibility forced the cancellation of racing on day one at the Land Rover Extreme Sailing Series Act 3, Qingdao. It is only the fourth time in the nine-year history of the Series that mother nature has forced the organisers to cancel racing, but the first time it has happened due to fog.

Famous for its mixed conditions, this morning's forecast was for a building five-knot breeze and hazy conditions clearing throughout the day, but the city of Qingdao had other things in mind, as Race Director Phil Lawrence explained: "We were all set up and the teams were going through their practice run when a fogbank rolled in from offshore". With visibility quickly falling to 40 meters, Lawrence was forced to make a call: "Racing was impossible and we initiated our fog control plan with the fleet and supporting boats quickly returning to shore. Despite being held for two hours the fog became thicker instead of lifting and racing was abandoned for the day."

With three full days of racing planned for the national holiday weekend here in China, the forecast is looking promising

extremesailingseries.com

* Oman Air was today announced as the Official Airline Partner to the Extreme Sailing Series as part of the Sultanate's national carrier's plans to expand its network into China and across the world.

This major agreement with series organisers OC Sports was unveiled on the opening day of Act 3 of the Extreme Sailing Series in Qingdao, China, where Oman Sail's high performance Extreme 40 sponsored by Oman Air, skippered by Britain's Stevie Morrison and featuring Omani sailor Ali Al Balushi, UK sailors Ed Powys, Nic Asher and Ted Hackney from Australia, was preparing for four days of hard and fast racing.

China represents Oman Air's 49th destination.

www.omansail.com

International Sailing Charity Announces Over Seventy Thousand Pounds Of Grants
The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation is to give grants totalling seventy one thousand, four hundred and seventy five pounds (£71,475) to not-for-profit sailing projects in South Africa, Bermuda, Scotland and England.

The grants are the first of the Charity's formal grant giving process which opened in January 2015. Thirteen projects have been selected to receive grants ranging from £2,000 to £10,000.

The Foundation's Trustees Impact committee reviewed each application to ensure the potentially funded projects were sustainable and reflect the aims and objectives of the Foundation, transforming children and young people's lives through sailing.

These thirteen grants are additional to the two larger grants awarded this year by the Foundation to the NSSA (National Schools Sailing Association) in the UK and the Andrew Simpson Sailing Centre to carry out valuable research into the benefits of sailing, taking the total donated this year to over £180,000.

A second round of grant giving will be announced over the next few months and once again will be open to all not for profit sailing projects and community sailing programmes worldwide.

For further information contact:
Amy Harvey- Communications
Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation
amy@andrewsimpsonsailing.org
0044 (0)7554 968 968

www.andrewsimpsonfoundation.co.uk
www.facebook.com/andrewsimpsonsailingfoundation

Solitaire Du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cachemire
On Sunday 31st May at 1705 CET, 40 competitors will make their way down river from Bordeuax to Paulliac after a week of final preparations and festivities in the historic French city. It is here the Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cachemire fleet will start the four stage, 2,185 mile race in just one months time.

After pushing themselves and their one-design Figaro Beneteau IIs to their limits in training this winter, March marked the start of the 2015 competitive season for the Classe Figaro Beneteau skippers. With two races complete and now just one left to race, the Solo Basse Normandie, Solo Maître Coq and Solo Concarneau are great indicators of what can be expected out on the Solitaire du Figaro course.

Yann Elies has already proved he is back with a vengeance in 2015, already winning the Solo Basse Normandie and Solo Maître Coq. Still on the hunt for his triple Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cachemire win, Yann has made his ambitions quite clear in the earlier races - he'll be going for the win this June.

The man standing in the way of Yann's top podium finish could be defending race champion Jeremie Beyou. Taking the triple win in 2014, Jeremie is now gunning for the quadruple.

www.lasolitaire.com

An Ode To Cuban Mechanics
No matter how carefully maintained, something on a cruising boat will always need fixing. So what happens when an American-made boat needs work in Cuba? The 55-year-old embargo on commerce makes it impossible to air ship replacement parts. There's duty-free shipping to Grand Cayman, but it requires an expensive flight to pick up the package.

The boat isn't out of options, though. Think about all those '58 Fords and '56 Chevys that still cruise Havana's streets. Who has kept them running? Cuban mechanics.

Cuba's state-run marinas employ skilled marine mechanics along with expert electricians, welders and machinists. Free education and a lifetime of shortages have made them masters of re-use, recycling and creative solutions.

As one Danish cruiser put it, "Cuban mechanics can fix anything, using nothing."

www.bwsailing.com

Antigua Sailing Week Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge
The Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge started at 1pm with eight international teams vying for the winner takes-all-prize of a one-week bed and breakfast stay at the Nonsuch Bay Resort.

The final was thrilling right from the start. An eager defending champion, Peter Holmberg was called over the line and despite returning to start correctly, the Olympic and America's Cup helmsman was never going to catch the others. Pietro Corbucci's Team At Last... won the final with a race to spare beating Team CSA into second with Lucy Jones' Team Performance Yacht Charter completing the podium.

The Lay Day Party went on long into the evening with Team Pocket Rocket winning the tug of war.

2015 Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge Results:

1. Pietro Corbucci, Team At Last, 5 points
2. Peter Holmberg, Team CSA, 8
3. Lucy Jones, Team Performance Yacht Charter, 8
4. Marc Fitzgerald, Team Sojana

About the Nonsuch Bay RS Elite Challenge

Spinlock IRC Championships Offer A Change Of Scene This Summer
If you are looking for some new challenges in your racing schedule this year, why not head off and enjoy competing in different fleets, conditions, and scenery in one of the many GBR IRC Championships.

There are plenty of opportunities for boats and their owners to become Spinlock IRC champions around the country this summer, says Jenny Howells, Technical Manager of the RORC Rating Office in Lymington.

More details of the events and organising clubs can be found on www.rorcrating.com in the Spinlock IRC section. As is fitting for this season's theme of #ThisBoatCan, most of the Championships are approved to accept Spinlock IRC Single Event Ratings, so even if you are not a regular IRC racer you can compete in two events per year at a minimal rating fee.

The calendar for 2015 is:

May-Sept / Solent / Various Solent venues
06-07 June / Scottish / Helensburgh
11-12 July / Small Boat / Hamble
11-12 July / East Coast / Felixstowe
17-19 July / National / Cowes
20-22 Aug / South West / Fowey
21-23 Aug / Welsh / Pwllheli
18-19 Sept / Double Handed / Cowes
18-20 Sept / Channel Islands / Guernsey

#ThisBoatCan, the Spinlock IRC social media campaign launched earlier this month to highlight the variety of boat types and sizes that race under IRC, is running for six months until the end of September 2015. Owners and crews are encouraged to join in and post photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram of their IRC racing, tagged #ThisBoatCan, and will also be entered into a free draw each month to win a Spinlock new WING or FOIL Personal Flotation Device (PFD). Full details are available at www.spinlock.co.uk including full terms & conditions of entry.

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* From Butch Dalrymple Smith: Your mention of sailing being a six continent sport provokes this reaction

Any move by the International Olympic Committee to reduce the importance of sailing in the Games will not diminish the stature of sailing: It will diminish the stature of the Olympic Games.

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The Last Word
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