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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Balance Declared Winner Of 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race
After a long day and overnight wait, Paul Clitheroe's TP52 Balance was this morning declared the overall winner of the 2015 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, Clitheroe's major rival for the Tattersall's Cup, Quikpoint Azzurro gliding over the finish line in Hobart at 07.37.59 hours this morning to claim third place.

A belated birthday present for Clitheroe, who turned 60 in July, this is the first time he has won the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's 628 nautical mile race, but not the boat's first time. As Quest, it won the 2008 race for Bob Steel, and aboard again were two of his winning crew, sailing master Mike Green, a veteran of 37 Hobarts, and Adam Brown, a veteran of 29 races.

Green also won on a previous Quest in 2002 and took line honours on Ninety Seven in the storm ravaged 1993 race. Brown, was with Green in 2008 and 1993, with an additional overall win on Ragamuffin in 1992.

CYCA director Paul Clitheroe purchased his fifth Balance mid-last year and it has won two Sydney Hobarts from just five attempts. The 10 year-old Farr designed yacht has represented great value for her various owners, with other great results to her credit.

Clitheroe's other crew are: Nick Scott Perry, David Keddie, David Taylor, Jason Dock, Matthew Craig, Max de Montgolfier, Tom Brewer, Michael Slinn, Andrew Cribb and Clinton Evans, who becomes the first Norfolk Islander to win the race.

www.rolexsydneyhobart.com

Australian Female Skipper Wins Sydney Hobart Clipper Race Class
Wendy 'Wendo' Tuck, the first female Australian Skipper in the history of the Clipper Race, has clinched first place in the Clipper 70 class of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Wendy, the Sydney Skipper of Da Nang - Viet Nam, managed to hold off GREAT Britain and LMAX Exchange in a tight, tactical battle up the Derwent River. The team crossed the line at 1601 AEDT (0501 UTC) and finished in 22nd place in overall line honours.

At one point over the last 24 hours, the gap had narrowed to less than 3 nautical miles before Wendo opened up her lead to 10 nautical miles in the final few hours.

Da Nang - Viet Nam managed to keep up good speed over the last 30 miles after the threat of lightening winds didn't materialise.

It is the first podium for Wendo and team in the Clipper 2015-16 Race global series. This is Race 5 of 14.

clipperroundtheworld.com

The Best Of Both Worlds
Seahorse Extending sail life: EPEX GLP

During the last two decades sailcloth construction has experienced tremendous advancements. Technologies developed to combine the best qualities of film and fibre have succeeded in producing sails that are not only light in weight but also robust enough to better retain their desired shape across the intended wind range. At Elvstrom Sails this technology has become so effective in our own EPEX products that sails built eight years ago are still holding up with no signs of delamination. That's a strong record.

One issue, however, that continues to plague many laminate sails is durability – the challenge of extending the life cycle of sails built in film and fibre. Physical abrasion from even regular handling on a raceboat can be extremely hard on the fabrics; this includes the repeated crunching and folding from dousing and packing the sail, the crushing the sail gets when in its bag and being trodden (or slept) on, and repeated floggings and beatings against the spar and standing rigging during manoeuvres.

Full article in the February issue of Seahorse:
www.seahorsemagazine.com

New Year's Eve On The Equator
We know what to wish Spindrift 2 for the start of 2016: good weather in the North Atlantic for a faster, more direct route than the large detour west that the current Jules Verne Trophy record holder had to take. A day before crossing the equator for the second time as she sails back up the Atlantic Ocean, Spindrift 2 has enjoyed stronger south-east trade winds than expected and has just entered the doldrums, which are being rather kind. The crew will enter the northern hemisphere during New Year's Eve, before enjoying strong, sustained, north-easterly trade winds, a more benign Azores High than four years ago, and a succession of favourable lows above Europe, but there are still 4,000 nautical miles to go to Ushant, and with one week left, the result still hangs in the balance.

Day 39 16h00 GMT
750.9nm behind the current record holder Banque Populaire V
Distance covered from the start: 23,328.5 nm
Average speed over 24 hours: 20.6 knots
Distance over 24 hours: 494.3 nm

www.spindrift-racing.com

Climbing Back Due North
As the wind has veered and the trade winds have filled the sails, the IDEC SPORT maxi trimaran has been lifted and her speed towards the Equator has increased. Joyon and his troops are making the most of what the wind is throwing at them.

25-30 knots tonight

The situation has clearly improved on IDEC SPORT on this 39th day of sailing after three horrendous days of tacking upwind in light airs. While the trajectory taken by the multihull still is not as straight as in the Indian Ocean for example, it is becoming more so with each passing hour, as the trade wind shifts further and further to the east. They can now head due north and it is only down to squalls that the boat has moved slightly towards the west at times. "We are taking advantage of each wind shift," explained Francis. "When it strengthened late in the night, we even removed the foil and lifted the daggerboard, which is something we haven't done for ages."

The helmsmen were thus able to get back up to speeds above 25 knots for a few hours, a situation the men on IDEC SPORT hope will stabilise today to become the norm until they reach the Equator. "The charts are looking more positive now," Joyon said sounding upbeat. "According to our latest analysis, the trade wind should strengthen, allowing us to get to the Equator on the night of the 1st-2nd January."

www.idecsport-sailing.com

Hobart Retirees Join Promising Club Marine Pittwater To Coffs Yacht Race
Two Rolex Sydney Hobart retirees are the latest Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Yacht Race additions bringing the fleet to 42 boats as close to 450 sailors set up for the favourable forecast suggesting a quick trip north after the 1pm start this Saturday.

Sailing master on Karl Kwok's 80-foot line honours defender Beau Geste, Gavin Brady, would prefer the southerly flow that is anticipated to fill in on Saturday afternoon reach Sydney earlier. "Hopefully the system speeds up, the race is still far away in weather terms but the good news is there's no north predicted, just south and south east winds.

"Even if it's light the big maxis still rumble along nicely. It could be a nail-biting finish close to record time. By tomorrow there will be more certainty; it's too early to talk about a record-breaker," Brady added, following a shakedown in Sydney for the international crew competing under the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club's burgee.

Sydney Hobart casualty Mick Martin has repaired the engine and mainsail batten on his Newcastle based TP52 Frantic and is almost ready for the Pittwater to Coffs race start this Saturday, January 2, 2016 to the north of Barrenjoey Headland.

Fellow retiree Peter Hickson is tight-pressed in comparison given he's still putting a crew together and the replacement 70-foot wire forestay belonging to his TP52 called M3 is on its way on a red-eye flight from Perth tonight rolled up in oversized baggage.

Senior Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecaster Jake Phillips advised this morning a 10 knot southerly airstream is likely at race time, producing a colourful spinnaker start. Various models agree the S-SE breeze could build to 15 and then 20 knots locally during Saturday afternoon.

All boats competing in the race to Coffs Harbour will carry a tracking device to allow 24 monitoring via the official website, where all race information is posted. -- Lisa Ratcliff

www.pittwatertocoffs.com.au

Back To Big Breeze For Oxford Blue?
After a weekend of lighter conditions at the previous two events of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series, it looks like it's back to business as usual this Saturday for the Oxford Blue. True to form for this ridiculously windy winter, the forecast suggests it's going to be a challenging south to south-westerly wind for the 110 boats entered thus far. If it does prove to be windy on Farmoor Reservoir, it will come in stark contrast to the previous editions which have been very light.

The Contenders showed their potential in the strong winds at the Datchet Flyer a couple of weeks ago, and will probably enjoy the square-course racing at Farmoor. As usual there is plenty of talent throughout the mixed handicap fleet, and a strong turnout in the D-Zero and RS Aero singlehanded classes, with this being the RS Aero Winter Championships. Top Moth sailor and former Laser Radial Youth World Champion Ben Paton will be up against Pete Barton and other leading lights in the RS Aeros.

The Series is attracting plenty of lesser-seen classes to events, and the Oxford Blue has brought in entries from boats such as the 29erXX, the K1, K6, and the National 18s who have made the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series their travellers' circuit for the cold half of the year.

After four events, it's an Oxford Sailing Club crew in a RS400, Grant Blake and Jessica Barker who lead the overall standings ahead of David Summerville in a D-Zero, with Paul Young and Emma Coleman 3rd overall in an Enterprise. Currently in 4th overall, Ian Dobson and Andy Tunnicliffe have only completed three of the four events so far. But another good score at one of the three remaining competitions will put the GP14 World Champions in good stead for the overall season victory. 

For overall results after four events: gjw.sailracer.org
and to enter other events in the Series: www.SailJuiceSeries.com 

Sport Meets Science
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC UNESCO) and IMOCA Ocean Masters World Championship team up to gather climate change data in the remotest parts of the globe, particularly the Southern Ocean.

The IMOCA Ocean Masters skippers, such as defending World Champion Jean Le Cam, go where only few people dare to go: To very remote oceanic areas of the Southern hemisphere below 45°S and down to 55°S as they pass Cape Horn, where some of the world´s most extreme climactic conditions, the strongest winds and largest waves, await them on their IMOCA class 60ft sailing yachts as they race non-stop single- or double-handed around the globe.

Next time Jean Le Cam he goes there, he will make a contribution to helping scientists better understand climate.

The Southern Ocean not only represents Eldorado for world class offshore sailors, it also plays an essential part in global warming. Acting like a giant lung, the Southern Ocean seasonally absorbs vast amounts of carbon dioxide (CO₂) and heat, playing a key role in regulating the earth's climate.

To conduct their studies, scientists analyse measurements of essential climate variables such as CO₂ concentration, sea water temperature and salinity. This data is collected by autonomous instruments, research vessels or by specially-equipped merchant ships as they travel along major trade routes. The analysis is internationally coordinated, but coverage is limited geographically to each ship's actual itinerary. As a result, on trade routes the waters are very well observed, whereas in other areas, such as the Southern Ocean, few observations exist. Skippers sailing around Antarctica thus represent an ideal opportunity to gather important data through buoy deployments or via instruments installed onboard their yachts.

www.imocaoceanmasters.com
www.imoca.org

Letters To The Editor - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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 Adrian Morgan: Many years ago at the Madrid conference I was hired as the (then) IYRU's press officer. The hidden agenda was that I should stir things up a bit by suggesting in my daily reports that (how controversial) the IYRU change its name to reflect more of the ordinary sailors, as opposed to yachtsmen.

As I toured the various committees and sub-committees and sub-sub-committees and watched the politicking and schmoozing, I wondered how far from my experience of sailing all this was.

Then Samaranch arrived in a blaze of expensive, chauffer-driven obsequiousness. What a nest of blue-blazered, self seeking old vipers, I thought at the time. How far removed most of them (by no means all mind you) were from the realities of sailing.

The name did get changed a short time afterwards. Now it's another change of name, this time not so much to reflect the changing image from yachting to sailing, but from sailing to World Sailing. The Empire grows stronger (and more detached from reality).

Maybe when FIFA collapses World Sailing should adopt the initials. I leave others to decide what the letters FIFA might stand for...

* From Alistair Skinner: People will probably pillory me again. I am actually at the event, David Evans idea of ISAF cancelling the event and sending everyone home is laughable - let's turn the disappointment of 2 kids into the disappointment of 425 kids - Nice One David! And David, 7 of 9 classes have all entrants in attendance and who knows what would have happened in the RS-X?

Mike, the Organisers were committed to allow everyone to come but apparently their government wouldn't allow the 2 kids visas. If anyone knows of an instance where a sporting body is more powerful than a government? Answers on a postcard please.

Eddie, I completely agree with you, boycotts in 1980, technical delegates and visas not getting visas, you would think politicians could use more meaningful and realistic diplomatic weapons wouldn't you.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for the naysayers though as in my experience those voices that are loudest in complaint are usually the quietest when volunteers are asked for. 

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The Last Word
You want weapons? We're in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room's the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself! -- Doctor Who

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