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

Lighting The Match
The big losses which Vendee Globe leader Armel Le Cleac'h has suffered over recent days to the British skipper Alex Thomson have stabilised today but the French solo racer who has topped the solo round the world race since December 3rd seems set to come under more pressure from his pursuer in the coming days.

A wide swathe of lighter, variable winds blocks the northwards climb up the South Atlantic. Some weather routing models have the two leading skippers racing at the same latitude at the weekend.

After making a net gain of some five miles during this Wednesday afternoon, Thomson was 269 nautical miles behind on the 1700hrs UTC ranking.

Update: 0500 December 29: Le Cleach leads Thomson by 195 nm. Thomson's VMG is 17 knots to Le Cleach's 9. Rankings: www.vendeeglobe.org/en/ranking-and-race-data

While the leaders' problems in the South Atlantic are largely about the mental stress of routing through a network of light airs and transition zones, New Zealandskipper Conrad Colman has been forced to push his Foresight Natural Energy close to the limit to stay ahead of a 'terrifying' low pressure system.

And one thousand or so miles to Colman's west, Ireland's Enda O'Coineen has had to take the prudent, but tough decision, to turn back north and separate away from the six strong pack of boats he had been racing closely with, playing tag with the back of that same depression. O'Coineen is diverting to Stewart Island, just off the tip of South Island New Zealand in order to make repairs and continue his race.

O'Coineen, who was lying in 11th place of the 19 solo skippers still racing, is seeking to complete a number of repairs, and aims to continue with his race. Stewart Island, which is some 19 miles south of the tip of New Zealand's South Island, is famous in the history of the Vendee Globe as it is where legendary French skipper Yves Parlier stopped for ten days during the 2000-1 edition of the race and repaired his broken mast with no outside assistance, before restepping it using his boom as a derrick.

vendeeglobe.org

Rolex Sydney Hobart: Another One Done And Dusted
Adrienne Cahalan, Australia's most celebrated yachtswoman, has arrived in Hobart aboard the Brenton Fischer skippered TP52 Ragamuffin, to cement her place as the first woman ever to compete in 25 Sydney Hobart Yacht Races.

And like all the others, this 25th race has been a mixed bag. No real terrors this year, and mercifully brief time working to windward, but if ever there was a race of two halves this has been it.

Blisteringly fast running and reaching most of the first half, and frustratingly slow in the second half for yachts in the 50 to 65 foot range.

"I prayed for an exciting race and this was that," Cahalan says. "We knew there were going to be some tricky bits, particularly at the end. It was fast, wet and wild at first, particularly on these boats."

Unfortunately it was a little too fast for one crucial moment on the first night. Ragamuffin dove into a wave and emerged with a shredded spinnaker.

"After that, we were playing catch-up, but without that sail we were down a couple of knots. We worked hard though, and eventually recovered.

"Actually we were quite happy with the second half of the race, it suited us. We sailed well through the transition zones and caught back some time. Because we had that sail problem, we missed the gate into Bass Strait, and after that there were three distinct fleets.

"It's worked well for me before - and sometimes it hasn't, but I'm philosophical - some of it is out of your control."

rolexsydneyhobart.com

Keep Your New Year's Resolution! Race The St. Thomas International Regatta - March 24-26, 2017
Forget about those excess pounds! Make a New Year's Resolution that's fun to keep! Race in the 2017 St. Thomas International Regatta (STIR)! It's the perfect way to put some sun and fun in a cold spring season. What's more, register now (www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com) for a chance to win customized long-sleeve high-performance team shirts! The name of your vessel may be randomly drawn to win this highly-coveted prize on December 31. No worries! Shirt sizes range from S to XX-plus!

Is looking for good deals one of your New Year's Resolutions? Take advantage of the early entry discount! Pay only US $250 up until January 31, 2017.

Resolve to mix it up a bit in 2017? There's a class or course for everyone at STIR! Register in CSA (Racing or Cruising); IRC; ORC; Multihull; Beach Cat or One Design classes with a minimum length of 20 feet. Competition in the Offshore Cat and one-design Melges 20, C&C 30 and IC24 classes will especially be keen. Race round- the-buoys and round-the-islands. Register now for the Round the Rocks Race on March 23, a circumnavigation of the neighboring U.S. Virgin Island of St. John - home of the Virgin Islands National Park.

Finally, start the New Year right by ringing in your reservations now! There's direct flights from several U.S. cities. Nearby Puerto Rico offers direct air service to Europe. Several boats are still available for race charter; info on STIR website. Space still available on yacht transport ships; check with Ben Beer at Caribbean Racing Logistics (benbeer13@aol.com, 340-998-6203). Rent a villa and more with the help of STIR concierge, Island Way Services (islandwayservices@gmail.com, 340-244-8457).

Register Now! www.stthomasinternationalregatta.com

For information, Email: cpessler@hotmail.com, Call (340) 642-3204

Another Dose For Chutzpah
Melbournian Bruce Taylor's downwind flier, Chutzpah, is the first of the 40 footers to arrive in Hobart, crossing the line 30 minutes ahead of her divisional arch rivals, Elena Nova and Simply Fun.

This was the downwind Rolex Sydney Hobart all three yachts were designed for, and Taylor and his long-standing crew made the most of it, though once again overall Hobart victory has eluded them.

"At the outset we thought the big boats were a good chance of doing the double," Taylor said dockside. "We hoped they would get slowed down in a couple of calm spots, but unfortunately that didn't happen."

Instead it was Chutzpah that came to grief.

"The first afternoon and evening we had a fantastic drag race with Simply Fun. We caned them last year, but they've done a lot of sailing together since then.

"We were fairly conservative with our A2 spinnaker, because we figured we'd need it a lot. When it got to 30 knots we thought we should take it down to preserve it, but the moment we did, Simply Fun took off so we put it back up again.

"This boat is a rocket ship, the crew is good, tactically, we couldn't have done anything else, but if you ever stop in a Hobart race you cannot win it."

What made this 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart special for Taylor was that two of his crew, James Permezel and Bruce's son Drew were doing their 25th race, a big milestone for any yachty. Drew and Bruce become the first father/son duo to do 25 Hobarts together.

rolexsydneyhobart.com

Wight Vodka Best Yachting Bar
We've had some submissions this year that are unique in our eight year history.

You can submit YOUR entry until Friday January 6 2017.

From all of the submissions, the team at Wight Vodka will choose the top 10 bars which are put forward for the online voting from Monday January 9 through Tuesday January 30.

We announce the winner on February 1 2017.

Tell us your favourite:
scuttlebutteurope.com/sailors-bars

This one from reader Ian:

The Clipper Bar, Sardinia

"Known by everyone who's had the good fortune to race at the Maxi Worlds, Swan World Cup and countless other events in the 'Millionaire's Playground' of the Costa Smeralda. Not just races but charter crews, too...This place has been the place to go to unwind and retel stories to each other each night. The staff make sure you're well lubricated, they have a big, collective personality and it's just nice to find a basic bar amongst the Cartier and Gucci stores nearby.

The restaurant keeps crews fed with the famous Spaghetti Clipper and many other dishes centred around fresh produce from the sea.

Open long into the night, even event photographers often set up their computers here towards the back end of the events in order to maximise opportunities to sell their photos of the yachts racing in these beautiful waters."

Wight Vodka
Tack & Gybe Responsibly

Industry News
Ocean Safety has signed an agreement to provide an inventory of safety equipment to each yacht in the 2017/2018 Volvo Ocean Race, the fifth consecutive time the company has supplied the world's longest and toughest fully crewed yacht race.

Each yacht will carry the very latest in technological development including life preservation products, location and recovery equipment, as well as tried and tested products. Ocean Safety, which is the UK's largest independent safety supplier, will also be running Sea Survival training courses for the crews prior to the start.

Two teams have already been announced and more are expected to follow shortly to take the challenge on one of the eight identical Ocean 70 yachts. Next year's edition of the race will feature almost three times as much Southern Ocean sailing as the previous edition, making it the longest distance in race history at around 45,000 nautical miles, crossing four oceans and taking in 11 major cities on five continents.

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After 15 years as the RYA's Olympic Manager, Stephen Park OBE is to take up a new post as the Great Britain Cycling Team's Performance Director.

Park guided the British Sailing Team to the top of the sport's medal table in Rio, and is to become British Cycling's first Performance Director since 2014.

The 48-year-old has been the RYA's Olympic Manager for the past four Olympic cycles, with Britain's world-beating sailors amassing 23 Olympic and Paralympic medals during his time at the helm. He will start work at the National Cycling Centre in Manchester in the spring of 2017.

Park said: "My time with the RYA has been hugely rewarding and Olympic sailing has evolved enormously during my 15 years as team manager, requiring an inquisitive and innovative approach to stay ahead of the game. As top sailing nation at Rio 2016 and following our review process I'm confident the team is in great shape for the Tokyo 2020 cycle, and I would like to thank the British Sailing Team athletes and staff for their unwavering commitment in support of sailing's medal-winning ambitions during my tenure.

www.britishsailingteam.com

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SoftBank Team Japan has selected Harken as an Official Supplier of technical equipment to its campaign for the 35th America's Cup. Harken is responsible for supplying winches, pedestals, blocks, and key hydraulic components to the syndicate.

Dean Barker Skipper/CEO SoftBank Team Japan said, "Harken has been part of each of the Cup campaigns I've done. Their equipment is always at the cutting edge of technology and has never let me down. This time I'm sure it will be the same. They supply an array of high-tech sailing equipment and it's that combination that makes Harken so attractive to us."

"We are pleased to be teaming with SoftBank Team Japan for the 2017 America's Cup," said Peter Harken, Chairman of the Board. "We supplied deck hardware to Nippon Challenge for the 2000 Cup. It's interesting to remember that they advanced to the semi-finals in every Louis Vuitton Cup elimination series in which they competed. After a 15-year absence, it's great to have Japan back in the AC and to be working closely with the sailors in this outstanding new syndicate."

The multi-national SoftBank Team Japan is led by America's Cup skipper Dean Barker and General Manager and bowman Kazuhiko "Fuku" Sofuku. Harken is honored to be working with this talented and dedicated group.

softbankteamjapan.com
harken.com

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The 52 SUPER SERIES, the world's leading grand prix monohull sailboat racing circuit, today announced that XS will be the Official Energy Drink and Sports Nutrition Product Partner of the series.

Growing from innovative roots in energy drinks, XS has achieved widespread and diverse appeal through continued expansion into leading edge sports nutrition products. Today, XS products are available in nearly 50 countries.

The partnership will launch in 2017 at the first 52 SUPER SERIES event, Quantum Key West Race Week regatta, where 11 TP52s will open their challenge for the the 2017 title - which will be decided across six regattas in Key West, Miami, Tuscany, Sardinia, Puerto Portals and Menorca.

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French Nautical Industries Federation (FIN) has taken over the management of its two boat shows, the Yachting Cannes Festival and the Paris Boat Show.

To this end, FIN has created a subsidiary, Nautic Festival SA, whose management is entrusted to Alain Pichavant, commissioner general of Nautic.

Beyond their eventual aspect, the French nautical shows represent a major economic stake for the nautical sector, presenting itself in fine as the main places of sale of boats.

The big salons of Cannes, La Rochelle and Paris act as the real lungs of economic activity. If they have welcomed nearly 350,000 people in 2016, they have made it possible to achieve almost 70% of sales in the French market.

www.actunautique.com

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The Swedish company Sail Racing has been appointed as the official clothing partner of Copa del Rey MAPFRE, one of the world's most prestigious regattas that takes part in Palma de Majorca, Spain, every summer. Sail Racing, also 35th America's Cup and Oracle Team USA clothing partner, will develop official merchandise collections for the PalmaVela and the RCNP and provide technical and on shore wear for the regatta organizers. Martin Rydell, Sail Racing's Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board in Sail Racing International AB, and Javier Sanz, President of the RCNP signed the agreement in Palma de Majorca this week.

The partnership with Copa del Rey MAPFRE is based on 3-year contract.

Sail Racing is developing the official 36 Copa del Rey MAPFRE collection in the coming months. It will be available at the event, as well as online for shipping worldwide and at selected retailers.

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Ullman Sails is pleased to announce that Kelly Buchan and Craig Millar have been named Chief Executive Officers of the regional divisions of Ullman Sails International, Inc., the licensing company of the Ullman Sails group, assigned to oversee operations in the group's major geographic markets.

Buchan is Regional CEO of the Ullman Sails-West division, which encompasses all business in the Americas and the Caribbean markets. Millar is Regional CEO of the Ullman Sails-East division, which includes all business in Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa.

Buchan, previously Vice President and General Manager, has been with Ullman Sails since 2007 where she has managed the Ullman Sails' brand, overseen group operations, and coordinated significant initiatives through the company's longest and largest period of sustained growth. Her management and engagement with the group's lofts has shaped Ullman Sails' path and she continues to drive growth, collaboration, and communication world-wide.

Millar, who joined Ullman Sails in 2013 as the group's Vice President of Business Development, founded the prominent South African aluminum welding firm Aluweld in 1987, and has extensive business experience including financial management consulting.

Featured Brokerage
1989 Frers 92 - BRISTOLIAN. 800000 GBP. Located in Palma de Mallorca.

Iconic and very special Frers 92 cruiser / racer that is well known on the international regatta circuit with her blue black livery and classic Frers lines. She continues to wins hearts and minds wherever she goes, and comes with new cloth and other performance updates.

See listing details in Seahorse's RaceboatsOnly

Contact
Ben Cooper
+44 (0) 1590 679222
ben.cooper@berthon.co.uk

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2011 Knierim 50 - EXCALIBUR. 550000 EUR. Located in the Balearic Islands, Spain.

A real head turner and a fresh new look on the Bluewater Cruising market. Fast and fun, and well equipped, this Knierim 50 is engineered for SAILING. All the best attributes of a racing yacht and a cruising yacht blended into one.

See listing details in Seahorse's RaceboatsOnly

Contact
Ben Cooper
+44 (0) 1590 679222
ben.cooper@berthon.co.uk

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2001 Carroll Marine Farr 40. 125,000 USD. Located in Portsmouth, RI.

This is hull # 96 and has always been very well maintained by her three owners.She was first built as SAMBA PA TI and then she was named TWINS. Her current owner has not used her for several years, but she is located in Portsmouth Rhode Island, has been under shrink wrap and has a Captain maintain her. In her inventory are many North sails, with several 1st string primary racing sails, having never been out of the bags! If one is in the market for a very nice and lightly used Farr 40, DARKSIDE could be the weapon of choice.

See listing details in Seahorse's RaceboatsOnly

Contact
Please contact William Jenkins at 410-267-9419

See the RaceboatsOnly.com collection at seahorsemagazine.com/brokerage/

The Last Word
To all the revolutionaries fighting to throw off the yoke of tyranny around the world: look at British democracy. Is that what you want? -- Andy Zaltzman

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Advertising inquiries to Graeme Beeson: gb@beesonstone.com or see www.scuttlebutteurope.com/advertise.html