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

Le Cleac'h Extends Lead In Perfect Foiling Conditions
Armel Le Cleac'h is slowly starting to pull away from Alex Thomson after snatching the Vendee Globe lead from him yesterday. In the last 24 hours the Banque Populaire VIII skipper has gone from 12 nautical miles adrift of Thomson's Hugo Boss to 31nm in front.

Breton sailor Le Cleac'h, runner up in the last two editions of the Vendee Globe, racked up 467 nm in since 0500 UTC yesterday while Thomson was only able to sail 423 miles. And since last night he has averaged between two and three knots faster than the British skipper. The reason for the difference in speed is that both boats are sailing on port tack, meaning Thomson is not able to use his damaged starboard foil. Le Cleac'h however so far remains unscathed, and at 0500 UTC was the quickest boat in the fleet at 22 knots, the 20-knot winds from the north providing prime foiling conditions. The leading pair are due to pass north of the Kerguelen Islands in around 48 hours, by which point Le Cleac'h could have built up an even bigger margin.

* End In Sight For Trapped Pack

The misery of the South Atlantic for the large group of skippers trapped by the St Helena High could finally be about to come to an end. The back half of the fleet was snared by the infamous anticyclone almost as soon as they entered the South Atlantic more than 10 days ago and it has refused to relinquish its grip. But an end to the pain is in sight with St Helena's prisoners finally due to make it through the high pressure and into better breeze within the next 12 hours.

Once south of the anticyclone they will be able to turn towards the Cape of Good Hope and the stronger winds of the Southern Ocean. The light winds may not be a physical challenge but they have pushed the skippers to the limit mentally. "It's not easy," said 16th placed skipper Fabrice Amadeo today. "I have just four knots of wind and am sailing at three knots. It's been a bit complicated since sunrise after a decent night. We have known for a few days now that this high is here and we needed to round it via the west. We're really suffering with these weather patterns. We can't get a clear strategy organised. We got trapped and had no choice. We just have to go south. Louis Burton is just ahead and things should get better for him this afternoon and for me this evening."

Top ten positions 29 November 2016 0500 French time:

1. Armel Le Cleac'h, Banque Populaire VIII, 15815 nm to finish
2. Alex Thomson, Hugo Boss, 24.1 nm to leader
3. Sebastien Josse, Edmond de Rothschild, 470
4. Jeremie Beyou, Maitre CoQ, 942
5. Paul Meilhat, SMA, 945
6. Yann Eliès, Queguiner - Leucemie Espoir, 1247
7. Jean-Pierre Dick, StMichel - Virbac, 1827
8. Thomas Ruyant, Le Souffle du Nord pour le Projet Imagine, 1933
9. Jean Le Cam, Finistère Mer Vent, 1994
10. Kito De Pavant, Bastide Otio, 2483

www.vendeeglobe.org

670 Miles Of Separation
By daybreak on the third day of the RORC Transatlantic Race, Lloyd Thornburg's American MOD70 Phaedo3, skippered by Brian Thompson was continuing to charge south, approaching the Cape Verde islands. 670 miles to the north, Giovanni Soldini's Italian MOD70 Maserati was continuing their ascent north. The remainder of the fleet look to be hedging their bets for the moment, staying close to the rhumb line, save Mike Slade's 100ft (30m) Maxi Leopard 3, which is stalking Maserati's lonely trail. Both teams are looking to slingshot the edge of a massive low pressure system in the North Atlantic.

Phaedo have completed 700 miles of the course and their route is typical for a normal weather pattern; 'head south until the butter melts'. However, with today's sophisticated weather modelling, the afterguard on board know that this race will not be that simple. Looking at the wind forecast alone is not enough, as Phaedo3 navigator, Miles Seddon explained before the start of the race: "Wind speed and direction is obviously a factor, but for a MOD70 sea state is just as important."

Maserati has completed 600 miles of the course and their route will have been an extremely uncomfortable one. Upwind on a MOD70 is not for the faint-hearted. With the crashing of the hulls and the constant rise and fall over the waves, it would have been impossible to sleep on board. However, today the team may begin to get the reward for the pain. The North Atlantic above them has no less than four active low pressure systems and Maserati should hook into the bottom of the largest one today. The clockwise motion will create fast downwind conditions on starboard tack, bringing Maserati's T-Foil into play.

Mike Slade's Maxi Leopard 3 completed 500 miles of the course this morning, with a 45 mile lead on the IRC fleet. Two days into the race, Leopard has matched the average speed posted by Nomad IV when the French Maxi set the monohull race record last year, but it is too early to predict if Slade's team can lower the bar.

rorctransatlantic.rorc.org

Gill Showcasing Major New Ranges At Paris Boat Show, 3-11 December
Gill is proud to attend the Salon Nautique International de Paris - the Paris Boat Show - from 3 to 11 December. With over 200,000 visitors and close to 800 exhibits, the event is a showcase for all sectors of the nautical industry. Gill will be unveiling four major new ranges for 2017.

Among the major developments is the all-new OS1 range, which has been re-engineered to show no compromise against an extreme offshore environment. A 4-layer fabric with a completely re-imagined outer shell has resulted in one of the most durable waterproof garments the brand has ever made. Gill are also launching the next generation of the brand's bestselling OS2 range, which includes robust new technical jackets and trousers for both men and women. Also being unveiled is the next generation of world-leading sailing gloves, which uses pioneering new designs and fabric, and the all-new Race series, which is a capsule range for high-performance teams and individuals.

These products and more will be on show at the Gill stand - PE10 in the Exhibition Bridge.

www.gillmarine.com

GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series
Craig Williamson sailed a blinder of a series in his Laser to win the Fernhurst Books Draycote Dash, the opening event of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series. The runner-up from two years ago barely put a foot wrong to beat the 109-entry handicap fleet with a superb display of precision sailing on tricky courses in congested traffic.

The Hayling Island/ University of Portsmouth sailor was overnight leader after four back-to-back handicap races on the Saturday at Draycote Water, with the winds varying between light to moderate. The threat of Storm Angus striking the reservoir near Rugby never materialised, although the Pursuit Race started out in moderate to strong conditions and gradually abated throughout the two-hour contest. Williamson won this race to cement his position at the top of the leaderboard and win the event ahead of a GP14 sailed by Fergus Barnham and Andy Hunter from Northampton Sailing Club.

The Great Lakes handicap numbers have been honed over the previous seven season of the GJW Direct Sailjuice Winter Series with the aim of giving any well-sailed boat a shot at winning. The accuracy of the numbers was vindicated by nine different classes occupying the top 10 places overall, with 10 different clubs represented. Only the Scorpion placed two teams in the top 10, with 2011/12 Winter Champion Peter Gray of Staunton Harold coming third crewed by Andy Davis.

The predominantly light to medium breezes and gusty conditions didn't suit the faster boats so much, although Ben Schooling's third place on Sunday's Pursuit Race dragged the Musto Skiff sailor up to fourth overall. But for a capsize during Saturday's first race, the Stokes Bay sailor might have well challenged the slower handicap boats for a place on the podium, although most acknowledged that Williamson's outstanding performance made him almost uncatchable at the top.

Winners of both the Junior's and Lady's prizes were the Draycote RS Feva duo of Katherine Byne and Phoebe Jones who came 13th overall, while the Master's prize went to Mike Lyons in his Blaze, finishing 15th overall.

Next up for the GJW Direct SailJuice Winter Series is the Datchet Flyer on the weekend of 10/11 December.

www.sailjuiceseries.com

Australian Yachting Championships Coming To Sydney In 2017
Australian Sailing's premier keelboat event heads to Sydney in 2017 with the Australian Yachting Championship to be held from March 23 to March 26.

The 2017 Australian Yachting Championship will be hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) who are very familiar with staging world class sailing events as they prepare for the 72nd edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Australian Sailing Chief Executive Officer Matt Carroll said the CYCA are well equipped to deliver this prestigious national event saying, "The Australian Yachting Championship is our premier keelboat event and holds a prominent place on national and international sailing calendars.

"Hamilton Island have been wonderful hosts of the Championship for the past two years, treating competitors to an array of racing conditions in the warm Queensland waters. We expect the CYCA will deliver another exceptional event for competitors across the divisions, all vying for the coveted Australian Yachting Championship crown", Matt added.

The last time the Australian Yachting Championship was hosted in New South Wales was in 2014 at the Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club when Karl Kwok sailed Team Beau Geste to victory in Division 1. This was the start of the 'Kwok Trifecta' as he took out the Australian Yachting Championship title again in 2015 and 2016.

Notice of Race

www.australianyachtingchampionship.org.au

Director of RORC Rating Office
An exciting opportunity has arisen for a highly motivated and enthusiastic sailor with a technical background to take over the day to day management of the RORC Rating Office based in Lymington, Hampshire, UK.

Reporting to the Chief Executive the applicant will be one of the senior executives in the RORC organisation managing and motivating a small but highly experienced professional team at the Lymington office. This high profile and multi-faceted role has influence on the sport shaping both the competitive enjoyment of sailors worldwide through the IRC rating system as well as the management of yacht measurement, the safety aspects of the sport and the creation and maintenance of class rules for a variety of offshore one designs.

The successful candidate must have a high level of understanding of the technical elements of yacht performance, a good knowledge of yacht racing, and be computer literate, capable of learning the processes of our bespoke development software. They will be expected to develop longer term strategies for the IRC rating system and ways to develop the sport of sailing, encouraging more sailors to compete at all levels. The role involves travel between the various RORC offices and to venues in the UK and overseas to discuss and develop RORC's relationships with other organisations and stakeholders such as UNCL our partner in IRC and the ability to speak with authority and knowledge about the technical and safety aspects of the sport.

Other responsibilities include budget creation and management, developing measurement techniques and managing the team of RORC/IRC measurers around the UK as well as being available to assist with any yacht measurement matters. A sound knowledge of WS RRS & ERS, related ISO standards and STIX as well as the history of rating systems would be advantageous.

An attractive salary and benefits package includes a pension scheme, life insurance, 25 days annual leave plus public holidays.

Please send a CV and covering letter to: nf@rorc.org or post for the attention of:
Eddie Warden Owen
20 St James' Place
London SW1A 1NN

Closing date for applications is 23rd December 2016.
Interviews will be held in London the week commencing 9th January 2017.

Dun Laoghaire's Classic Harbour Ideal For Bicencentenary's Historic Boat Regatta
The Fife-designed Cork Harbour One Designs first raced in 1896. Enough of them have been restored in recent years to provide racing on Cork Harbour, but they have never been seen on Dublin Bay. Photo by Tom Barker. Click on image to enlarge.

The notion that the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta 2017 from July 6th to 9th should include a significant Classics and Old Gaffers element to mark the Bicentenary of this great harbour surfaced only relatively recently. Yet this week a high-powered sub-committee was bursting with ideas when it held its first meeting and firmed the concept in place. It immediately set about recruiting additional boats and classes for an event in which, in its established form, has already regularly included several notable classic One Design Classes. W M Nixon continues the story.

The genie is out of the bottle. The Volvo Dun Laoghaire Classics is accelerating towards full realisation. For although the classics component of the Volvo Dun Laoghaire Regatta was always there, hidden in plain sight in the form of classes of Glens, Howth 17s, Mermaids, Water Wags and IDRA 14s racing merrily away, everyone had rather taken it for granted.

But when some far-sighted thinker realised that we don't really have a date for the completion of Dun Laoghaire Harbour - for it was barely half built when it became Kingstown in 1821 - then the year of starting the great work in 1817 is the only fixed point in a process which has more or less continued until the present day.

WM Nixon in Afloat... full story:
www.afloat.ie

No Quick Fixes
At the World Sailing Annual Conference in Barcelona, Spain in November, the International Governing Body had a theme running throughout entitled 'Our Sustainable Future'. The theme was encapsulated by three topics that go hand in hand to form a mission and vision going forward. Sport, technology, nature. But with sustainability set to play an important role in the sport's future, what does it actually mean? Working within World Sailing I have had the benefit of seeing the vision from the inside, but I also have my thoughts and opinions as a competitive sailor.

So what does sustainability mean to me? When I hear the word itself a few things come to mind. Sustaining - while promoting - our sport and keeping it relevant in an ever-changing and evolving sporting landscape. And also preserving our playing field, the water that we sail on. Without it there is no sport.

Throughout my sailing career I felt as though I owed a duty to the water on which I competed. We, as sailors, are guardians of the seas and oceans, but it isn't just about racing and those taking part. We are part of a unique sport - or more accurately activity - that covers such a wide base, from racing to casual weekend sailing with family. One thing we all have in common is responsibility. -- Malcolm Page, World Sailing, 470 gold medallist Beijing 2008 and London 2012

Full article in the January 2017 issue of Seahorse: www.seahorsemagazine.com

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