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Miami Triumph for Puma and Read
Photo by Ian Roman / Volvo Ocean Race. Click on image for photo gallery.

Volvo Ocean Race PUMA's American skipper Ken Read enjoyed a glorious homecoming and a second consecutive leg win on Wednesday after an intense match race with close rivals CAMPER that has thrown the overall race wide open.

Read's men crossed the Miami finish line at 1414 local time, 1814 UTC, with a lead of around five nautical miles over CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, who gave them a real scare over a fraught final 24 hours and at one point closed to within just 0.6 nm.

CAMPER crossed the finish line for second place just over an hour later, at 19:21:25 UTC.

Groupama later came home in third after fending off fourth-placed Telefonica in another tense match race.

Those results left the top four on the overall leaderboard separated by just 17 points, while confirming that PUMA are right back in contention.

With six of nine offshore legs now complete, Telefonica lead with 164 points, followed by Groupama on 153, CAMPER on 149 and PUMA on 147.

It is the fourth podium finish in six legs for PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG and confirms a major fightback since the team's devastating retirement from Leg 1 with a broken mast.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, in fifth place, are expected at about 0800 UTC on Thursday.

SEIKO 49er Worlds - London Bound
Photo by Nikola Sisko. Click on image for photo gallery.

49er Worlds Although the forecast of 12-15 knots didn't quite materialize for the day, nothing could have been better for the five teams that have now qualified their countries for the 2012 Olympics in Weymouth this August. The lighter winds once again provided a great theatre for the skiffs and their boat handling skills as they fought around the track jockeying for places. At the end of the qualifying series the following countries have punched their ticket to Weymouth; Bermuda with Jesse and Zander Kirkland in 8th; Japan's Yuko Makino and Kenji Takahasi in 22nd; Canada's Gordon Cook and Hunter Lowden in 23rd; Dionisis Dimou and Mihalis Pateniotis of Greece in 24th and rounding out the Gold fleet, Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello of Italy in 25th.

Regatta leaders Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) turned on the heat today with a 1-1-2 sailing their distinctive purple kite to the front of the fleet. Tobias Schadewaldt and Hannes Baumann (GER) sit 5 points behind. Hannes commented that they had "light conditions, not that breezy with around 5-9 knots. We scored an 8th in first race and managed to win the next race; had a short lunch and went back out. We went out to Course B and we thought we'd have much more wind and would pick up like yesterday, but it didn't. But we had lovely sailing, just beautiful," he said with a huge smile.

When asked about the competition on the race course, he continued saying, "The nations that are qualified (for the Olympics) I think they are racing quite similar to normal racing. Those countries that are aiming for one of the open spots are pretty tense and fighting pretty hard." His strategy for the finals? "Going into the finals the gold fleet racing is always more intense and more tight with 25 boats in the fleet so we are looking forward to it and try to be as good as we can."

The forecast for tomorrow is for 8-12 knots and once again, clear skies.

Top Two Remains Unchanged
Oscillating winds increasing from eight to sixteen knots caused a bit of a mix up in today's results at the Audi Laser World Championship 2012 in Boltenhagen.

The big surprise of this world championship is surely Juan Maegli's performance. The 23 year old Laser sailor from Guatemala moves into third place after getting very consistent results unlike some of the more well-known competitors of the class whose results have been  mixed due to the shifty and continuously changing weather conditions. Looking to secure his position in second place is Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) with a 24 point lead on Maegli. Australia's Tom Slingsby is faring well in the stronger winds and still holding onto the top spot with a 20 point lead on Stipanovic.

While the finals have not been decided yet only a pretty big slip up on Slingby's side would allow Stipanovic to overtake him during the last two races on Thursday, May 10, 2012. Both competitors have been described as good strong wind sailors though so watching tomorrow's races unfold will definitely prove to be interesting.

Very close together after some ups and downs in the results are Andrew Maloney (NZL) in fourth, Andreas Geritzer (AUT) in fifth and Tom Burton (AUS) in sixth place.

Six of the twelve Olympic tickets available in Boltenhagen have been decided after the fleet was divided into the gold, silver and bronze fleet. Thailand, Ireland, Portugal, Lithuania, Tunisia and the Ukraine will have the opportunity to send a Laser sailor to Weymouth for the Olympic Games. Ten sailors in the silver fleet are now fighting for the last six tickets. Unfortunately none of the bronze fleet sailors will be able to secure a ticket for their country.

Corona Extra Double Handed Series
Photo by Hamo Thorneycroft, Click on image for photo gallery.

Corona Extra Double Handed Series Despite the forecast for winds touching Force 8 early in the morning and the overcast cold conditions for the British "Spring", 82 of the 102 double handed yachts entered decided to brave it out on race day. They were rewarded with a NE wind of F5-6 reducing to F4-5 in brightening conditions as the day progressed.

The course was East about round Isle of Wight and with the 07.05 to 07.45 starts the boats had to contend with initial choppy conditions in the Solent although tide was flowing with them through the forts. The RLYC line was used and because of the fast tide across the line, most were line shy apart from Class 2 which saw 3 boats return.

On handicap, in class 1 the First 35 "No Chance" of Chris Neve and Phil Lawrence obviously made the best of the chances that came her way to finish 3 minutes ahead of David Franks and Graham Sunderland's JPK 1010 "Strait Dealer". In third spot was Paul and Mark Griffith's J109 "Jagerbomb".

In class 2 the small boats came through on the tide with Paul Dunstan and Barry Byam's Folkboat "Mandarin" first from the Ecume de Mer "QT"of Giles Redpath and Donald Wilks and the Sonata "Hobo" of Gary and Andrew Heward.

The line honours boat Roaring Forty 2 was demoted on handicap in class 3 with the handicap win being taken by the Westerly Typhoon "Squander" of Bruce Ramsay from Andy and Sarah Horwood's Maxi 1100 "Asante" and Andy Parker and Andy White's Bavaria 36 " Larissa" In class 4 the Contessa 32 "Drumbeat" of Mark Himsworth and Roger Shapland was the clear winner from another Contessa but this time a 26; Justin Houlton and John Corlett's "Elinor" and Cuan Marsh and Cliff Skinner's Limbo 21 "Ex Tip"

The multihull class handicap winner was the 2nd line honours boat "Tinkerbell" from the Dragonfly 35 "Cold Fusion Reloaded" of Tim Wilson and Richard Haynes.

GBR Completes Its Sailing Line-Up for 2012 Games
Ben Rhodes and Stevie Morrison. Photo by onEdition. Click on image for photo gallery.

RYA Team The British sailing line-up for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has been completed today (Wednesday 9 May) with the announcement of sailor selections in the Laser Radial, 49er and 2.4mR events.

The British Olympic Association has confirmed the RYA's nominations of Alison Young, who will make her Olympic debut in the Laser Radial event, and Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes who gain their second Olympic Games call-up in the 49er class, while Helena Lucas joins the ParalympicsGB ranks in the one-person 2.4mR event.

These four sailors complete the full complement of 16 sailors to compete across ten events on the Olympic sailing programme (29 July-11 August), and six sailors across three events at the Paralympic sailing competition (1-6 September), which will be held in Weymouth and Portland, where the final British selections were unveiled today.

Team GB sailors for 2012:
Ben Ainslie - Finn
Paul Goodison - Laser
Alison Young - Laser Radial
Bryony Shaw - RS:X Women
Nick Dempsey - RS:X Men
Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark - 470 Women
Luke Patience & Stuart Bithell - 470 Men
Stevie Morrison & Ben Rhodes - 49er
Iain Percy & Andrew Simpson - Star
Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush & Kate Macgregor - Women's Match Racing

ParalympicsGB sailors for 2012:
Helena Lucas - 2.4mR
Alexandra Rickham & Niki Birrell - SKUD
John Robertson, Hannah Stodel & Steve Thomas - Sonar

Team Maserati Set Sail This Morning
Click on image to enlarge.

Maserati Soldini New York City: This morning at 3:20 a.m. local time, in front of the Ambrose lighthouse in New York Harbor, the Maserati racing yacht crossed the starting line and set off to conquer the New York-Cape Lizard (UK) record under a cloudy sky and looming thunderstorms. The international crew of eight men will sail 2,925 miles in the North Atlantic Ocean, dangerously close to icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland. The latest data shows several icebergs as far south as 44 degrees North. Maserati is currently at 40 degrees North and headed northeast at 22 knots. The time to beat is 6 days, 17 hours, 52 minutes and 39 seconds, a world record set in 2003 by British sailor Robert Miller's monohull Mari Cha IV.

"We have waited for so long, but it was worth it," explained Soldini before leaving the dock. "This low pressure seems to be the right one to try and break a speed record as challenging as the North Atlantic one. We will try to ride the tides and the winds the best we can and reach Great Britain achieving the record. We are confident and in high spirits."

Giovanni Soldini and his crew face complex challenges. The route is demanding and often treacherous with strong winds, rough seas, icebergs, and water temperatures below 2-4 degrees Celsius. The arduous circumstances are compounded by the constant need to analyze the weather forecasts and make the best strategic choices.

On board Maserati is an international crew of skilled sailors: Giovanni Soldini (skipper), American Brad Van Liew (navigator and watch leader), Spaniard Javier de la Plaza (helm, pit), Frenchmen Sebastien Audigane (helm, trimmer) and Ronan Le Goff (helm, bowman), Italians Guido Broggi (boat captain), Corrado Rossignoli (bowman), and Brit Tom Gall (second bowman).

The record attempt can be followed live on Giovanni Soldini and Maserati's website

Simmons Aiming for Seventh World IOD Crown
Six time IOD world champion Penny Simmons. Photo by Kyle Hunter. Click on image to enlarge.

IOD Worlds Hall of Fame sailor Penny Simmons has earned the right to gun for a seventh International One Design (IOD) World Championship.

Simmons, who placed third in the IODs during last month's Bermuda International Invitational Race Week with crew Darcy Betschart, Greg Lawrence, Matthew Cairney and wife Sasha, qualified for this year's world championships during the previous domestic season that concluded last November.

Octobers' regatta is being contested on local waters, Bermuda having last hosted the championships at the inaugural event in 1959.

Even though the six-time IOD world champion will be among the pre-regatta favourites, Simmons said he expected to find his work cut out for him in what will be a star-studded fleet. "It will be very interesting because the competition is going to be very keen," he said. "It's going to be some good competition involving some of the heavyweights."

Should Simmons be unable to compete, first alternate Craig Davis will fly the Island's banner instead.

This year the local IOD fleet are commemorating the 75th anniversary of the classic racing sloop's introduction to Bermuda's shores.

Colin Thompson's full article in The Royal Gazette:

Not Sailing... But Very Very Cool. Bravo!!
Photo by Carl Court / AFP / Getty Images. Click on image to enlarge.

Bionic Woman A paralysed woman has become the first person to complete a marathon in a bionic suit.

Claire Lomas finished the London Marathon today, crossing the finishing line 16 days after the race began.

The 32-year-old said she was "over the moon" as she completed the 26.2-mile route, which she started on April 22 with 36,000 other participants.

The former chiropractor was in tears as she became the first person to complete any marathon using a bionic ReWalk suit at 12.50pm today.

Hundreds lined the streets as she made her final steps to complete the race.

Three mounted members of the Household Cavalry gave her a guard of honour as she crossed the finishing line on The Mall.

Ms Lomas will not appear in the official results and did not receive a medal when she finished as competitors have to complete the course on the same day to qualify for a medal, organisers said.

But a number of marathon runners decided to donate their own medals to Ms Lomas.

Holly Branson, daughter of tycoon Richard - whose company Virgin sponsors the race, was at the finish line waiting to give Ms Lomas the Virgin trophy for endurance.

The mother of one broke her neck, back and ribs and punctured a lung when her horse Rolled Oats threw her off as she took part in the Osberton Horse Trials in Nottinghamshire in 2007.

The £43,000 ReWalk suit, designed by Israeli entrepreneur Amit Goffer, enables people with lower-limb paralysis to stand, walk and climb stairs through motion sensors and an onboard computer system.

A shift in the wearer's balance, indicating their desire to take, for example, a step forward, triggers the suit to mimic the response that the joints would have if they were not paralysed.

Letters To The Editor -
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 Rory Ramsden: re: the loss of Olympic Windsurfing:

When the Going Gets Tough The Tough Get Going

I may have been raw, sore and shell shocked when I got home from the ISAF Mid Year Meeting in Streza, Italy but a quick check on the web told me that I was not the only one. As I write the petition inviting ISAF to review their decision is past 13800 subscribers and the Facebook Group set up by others has 16,000 followers and climbing.

The campaign to put windsurfing back in the Olympics will not be easy. Nor will it be a sprint. It is more likely to be a marathon but when the the going gets tough the tough get going. The RS:X Class fully realize that this is not a matter just for them. It is a matter for the whole sport of windsurfing.

The initiatives to set up a petition did not come from within the RS:X Class nor did the Facebook Group. They came as a result of the spontaneous combustion of anger and frustration felt by windsurfers round the world. People from more than 100 countries are involved in some way or another.

So what happens now...

Well, we have to make a strategy and execute it whilst crowd sourcing volunteers to carry some of the load.

We feel very strongly that everyone with something to lose has to be engaged in the process. Those with time to spare, expertise to share or resources to offer should contact in the meantime there is plenty to do...

Sign the petition here:

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The Last Word
I get all of my comedy from CNN. -- Rob Corddry

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