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Ben Ainslie Secures Sixth Finn Gold Cup
Photo by Mark Lloyd, Click on image for photo gallery.

Finn Gold Cup It has been a week of extremes at the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Finn Gold Cup in Falmouth, UK and the final day was no different. Though a medal race was attempted, it was soon abandoned and an hour later racing was completely abandoned for the day as the wind disappeared. This left Ben Ainslie (GBR) as Finn World Champion for the sixth time. Ed Wright (GBR) took the silver while Jonas Hogh-Christesen (DEN) took the bronze.

As far as Olympic selection goes Poland, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Turkey and China join he 18 nations that qualified in Perth and Great Britain as host. Many also have to satisfy national requirements so the final line up is not definite.

Ben Ainslie (GBR) was presented with the Finn Gold Cup for a record sixth time. He previously won the Finn crown in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2008.

Is it his last Finn Gold Cup? "That's a good question. There's a chance it could be. I have had 10 fantastic years in the Finn and I'm not sure how much longer I can keep going at this level, but I haven't made any decisions yet on any future Finn racing. I will see how things go this summer and what else happens and make a decision then. But I would miss the Finn if I gave it up. It's a fantastic boat. It's a great fleet, great sailors, and great camaraderie. And I think it's a real true test of sailing, ability and fitness."

Final results after nine races (1 discard)
1. Ben Ainslie, GBR, 10 points
2. Edward Wright, GBR, 30
3. Jonas Hogh-Christensen, DEN, 64
4. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic, CRO, 72
5. Tapio Nirkko, FIN, 72
6. Piotr Kula, POL, 80
7. Mark Andrews, GBR, 81
8. Andrew Mills, GBR, 82
9. Pieter-Jan Postma, NED, 85
10. Zach Railey, USA, 93

Full results:

Gintare Scheidt (LTU) Wins Laser Radial Gold
In a six to eight knots strong sea breeze the first race pushed the Radial sailors at the Audi Laser World Championship 2012 to their limits. A total of ten yellow flags were awarded, the majority for rocking the boat. For favourites Sari Multala (FIN) and Alison Young (GBR) it was the second yellow flag, which meant they had to retire from the race. The two penalty turns for her first yellow flag in the same race pushed Marit Bouwmeester (NED) to 18th place. The last race of the series was sailed in fresher winds between twelve and 16 knots.

The battle for third place was only decided during the very last race after Alison Young and Sari Multala were both disqualified for rocking their boats in the light breeze of the first race. Multala beat Young to the medal with a third place in the last race, while Young finished the series with an 18th place and became third overall.

18-year-old Erika Reineke (USA) not only won in the U21 ranking ahead of Brenda Bowskill (CAN) and Philipine Van Aanholt (AHO) but also managed to achieve a somewhat unexpected top 10 result overall, one place ahead of fellow American Paige Railey in ninth place.

Paulina Czubachowska from Poland won the Rookie Prize for the best results of those participating in a World Championship the first time with the 47th place overall in gold fleet.

The nations qualified for the last remaining Olympic tickets are the following, subject to ISAF ratification: Poland, The Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Guatemala, Russia, Uruguay, Greece, Estonia, US Virgin Islands and Peru.

The Audi Laser World Championship 2012 is supported by Audi AG, Weibe Wiek Hotels & Marina, Marinepool Spirit of the Ocean, Lubzer, Scho-Ka-Kola, Glashager, boot Dusseldorf and Heinke Bohnert.

Top ten final results:

1. Gintare Scheidt, LTU, 50 points
2. Lijlia Xu, CHN, 60
3. Sari Multala, FIN, 70
4. Alison Young, GBR, 74
5. Marit Bouwmeester, NED, 77
6. Cecilia Carranza Saroli, ARG, 90
7. Sarah Steyaert, FRA, 106
8. Erika Reineke, USA, 111
9. Paige Railey, USA, 111
10. Charlotte Dobson, GBR, 118

Seaway Powell Marine At Seawork Stand A293
Powell Marine Seaway Powell Marine will be displaying the new Hypac low weight windlass at SeaWork 2012. Now produced in the UK by Seaway Powell Marine, they are designed to suit the anchoring requirements of support vessels (for offshore windfarms, etc) small workboats and passenger ferries. There are 15 sizes available to suit vessels from 15 to 150 metres.

The windlass incorporates all practical and rugged features of the existing anchor windlass range, but is light, compact, and easy to operate. Using high strength Dyneema rope, instead of wire, the total anchoring system can weigh as little as 15% of a conventional all chain anchoring system. The windlass has a range of hydraulic control options and can be powered by a dedicated miniature hydraulic power unit or from vessel hydraulic supply.

You can see it on stand A293 in addition to their range of Marine Actuators, and Captive Winches.

Abu Dhabi Make It an In-Port Hat-Trick
Photo by Ian Roman / Volvo Ocean Race. Click on image for photo gallery.

Volvo in Port Race Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing launched an 11th hour comeback in the PORTMIAMI In-Port Race to take their tally of in-shore successes to three, while Groupama scored a strong second to pile the pressure on overall race leaders Telefonica.

Ian Walker's crew were rewarded for sailing a near-perfect race on Saturday when they snatched the lead from Groupama on the penultimate leg and went on to seal a dramatic victory.

Although they were pipped at the post, Groupama's result moves them to within just seven points of Telefonica, who had yet more in-port disappointment when a penalty for touching one of the turning marks relegated them to last place.

In a thrilling finale, PUMA came from behind to rocket past CAMPER into third just metres from the finish line.

It was a fourth successive podium finish in the in-shore series for Ken Read's PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG crew, and it brought them to within a point of third-placed CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand on the overall scoreboard.

PortMiami In-Port Race results:

1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, 74:09
2. Groupama sailing team, +00:33
3. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, +02:02
4. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, +02:11
5. Team Sanya, +2:35
6. Team Telefonica, +6:28

Tropical Storm Alberto Lies In Wait
Photo by Ian Roman / Volvo Ocean Race VOR Leg 7 Start The Volvo Ocean Race fleet headed out of Miami and straight towards a tropical storm on Sunday after making a slow start to Leg 7, potentially one of the most critical stages of the 39,000 nautical mile marathon.

With a gentle breeze blowing off Miami's famous South Beach it was Ian Walker's Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, winners of Saturday's PORTMIAMI In-Port Race, who lead around the six-mile course, although by the time of the 1900 position report overall leaders Team Telefonica held the slimmest of advantages.

The boats were headed out into the North Atlantic where the first major obstacle they will face will be Tropical Storm Alberto, the first of the 2012 hurricane season, lying off the east coast of the United States and holding winds of up to 45 knots at its centre.

The formation of Tropical Storm Alberto may have put an end to the traditional route up the coast using the Gulf Stream as a catapult but it will reward the teams with fast sailing in decent breeze if they play it correctly. Get it wrong, and they could quickly find themselves in dangerous conditions.

Leg 7 to Lisbon is expected to take around 11 days to complete.

Energy Team Wins Venice Fleet Racing Championship
Photo by Sander van der Borch / Artemis, Click on image for photo gallery.

America's Cup Venice Venice, Italy: Loick Peyron continued to demonstrate the form he has shown all week, leading his Energy Team to a spectacular win on the final day of America's Cup World Series racing in Venice. Peyron and his French crew have been perched atop the leaderboard all four days this week, demonstrating an impressive command of the Grand Canal race area.

Winds were exceptionally light on Sunday, turning the San Marco race course into perhaps the most challenging one the teams have faced in the World Series to date. The smallest puffs of wind were rewarded with dramatic bursts of speed, leading to teams quickly moving up and down the race leaderboard on the first lap of the course, the positions changing from minute to minute.

The results in Venice see ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill gain some breathing room on the overall AC World Series leaderboard over Emirates Team New Zealand. The Kiwis will also now be looking over their shoulders, with Artemis Racing closing in as well, nine points further back.

The final event of the 2011-12 AC World Series will take place next month in Newport, Rhode Island from June 26 through July 1, 2012. At the conclusion of racing in Newport, the 2011-12 AC World Series champion will be crowned.

Fleet Racing final results:

1. Energy Team, 74 points
2. ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill, 58
3. Emirates Team New Zealand, 54
4. Artemis Racing, 52
5. Luna Rossa Piranha, 43
6. Luna Rossa Swordfish, 43
7. Team Korea, 37
8. ORACLE TEAM USA Bundock, 22
9. China Team, 18

Artemis Racing Win the Match Racing Championships in Venice
Light air, plenty of current and countless lead changes, made for dramatic racing for the thousands of spectators who lined the race course for the final day of the America's Cup World Series in Venice.

Having defeated Energy Team in the Match Racing Semi-Finals yesterday, Artemis lined up against Luna Rossa - Piranha for the Finals. The Italians battled and kept the pressure on, but were unable to defeat Artemis who maintain their position at the top of the ACWS Match Racing leaderboard after the five World Series events.

Match Racing final results:

1. Artemis Racing
2. Luna Rossa Piranha
4. Energy Team
5. Emirates Team New Zealand
6. Team Korea
7. Luna Rossa Swordfish
9. China Team

Class40 Financial Crisis Gambles with the Gulf Stream
The first night at sea was wet and lumpy for the four Global Ocean Race (GOR) Class40s with a tough reintroduction to offshore racing following their stopover in Charleston, South Carolina, as the fleet sailed straight into headwinds as they cleared the coast of the USA.

Although the South African duo of Phillippa Hutton-Squire and Nick Leggatt crossed the start line first with Phesheya-Racing on Saturday morning, the Kiwi-Australian duo of Conrad Colman and Scott Cavanough led the fleet out of Charleston Harbour with Class40 Cessna Citation, clearing the protection of the city's offshore piers and hardening up into the north-easterly wind and long, rolling seas.

With headwinds forecast for the first 24-48 hours of the 3,600-mile Leg 5 to Les Sables d'Olonne, France, the option of heading into the Gulf Stream came with the certainty of steep seas as the strong, northerly-flowing current churns into the north-easterly wind.

With the addition of Tropical Storm Alberto lurking east of Charleston, three of the Class40s - Cessna Citation, Phesheya-Racing and the Dutch team of Nico and Frans Budel on Sec. Hayai - kept west of the current, tacking in towards the coast between Cape Fear and Cape Lookout while the fourth Class40, Financial Crisis of the Italian-Slovak duo, Marco Nannini and Sergio Frattaruolo, shot away from the coast, thundering into the Gulf Stream early GMT on Sunday morning.

Throughout Sunday, the chasing trio of boats were piling east away from the coast led by Cessna Citation, picking up speed and heading to intercept Nannini and Frattaruolo as the Italian-Slovak duo's lead climbed above 20 miles on Sunday afternoon.

GOR leaderboard15:00 GMT 20/05/2012:

1. Financial Crisis, 3423nm to finish
2. Cessna Citation, 23nm to leader
3. Phesheya-Racing, 44
4. Sec. Hayai, 45

First Night Verve Sets the Pace for the IMOCA Fleet
A first night during which it proved frustratingly easy to find wind holes under stormy clouds, marked by spells of light and variable winds has quickly given way to stiff, tight reaching conditions for the Europa Warm'Up IMOCA fleet.

Some managed to escape the worst of the sticky stuff with seemingly unerring efficiency. Others found themselves virtually rooted to the spot for longer than they would have liked. It is little wonder that there was already just over 50 miles between first placed Jean-Pierre Dick and his team on Virbac-Paprec 3 and the seventh placed Groupe Bel of Kito de Pavant as the leaders approached the latitude of Capo Palos - the corner of Murcia - after 24 hours and 250 miles of racing.

In particular De Pavant was bitterly disappointed to have paid such a heavy price for the complex first night, especially as the fleet then ran progressively into an increasing breeze which has topped 30 knots at times, making for a wet, bouncy first day at sea. The Laughing Cow crew had chosen an inshore line and found themselves with less wind on average than those who stayed out.

These tough upwind conditions should hold until Gibraltar where often there are major transitions to be negotiated, while always accounting for the sluicing current. After three days of westerly winds over the west flowing current, it is likely to be choppy and unpleasant, but the current predictions still have only light winds which might make fighting a 3-4kts contrary flow something of a challenge. If the race leaders do get stuck in this scenario then there is every chance for the chasing pack to catch miles back.

Ranking at 18h

Position - Skipper - Boat - Distance / the first (MN)
1. Jean-Pierre Dick, Virbac-Paprec 3
2. Vincent Riou, PRB
3. Francois Gabart, MACIF
4. Armel Le Cleac'h, Banque Populaire
5. Bernard Stamm, Cheminees Poujoulat
6. Javier Sanso, ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered
7. Kito de Pavant, Groupe Bel

Destination Capri
The Rolex Volcano Race bid farewell to mainland Italy earlier today as the event's 15-strong international fleet departed Gaeta to commence the first leg of the 400-nautical mile offshore race. The crews are destined for the famed Mediterranean island of Capri some 100-nautical miles from Gaeta.

With light conditions prevailing, today's 15:00 CEST departure from Gaeta was delayed by some forty minutes. A sombre sky and winds of five to six knots welcomed the eventual start. Yesterday's inshore race winners Jethou (GBR), a 60-ft Mini Maxi, began strongly becoming the fastest yacht to reach the race's first mark, followed closely by the event's largest boat, the 112-ft Nilaya (BEL) and the 100-ft Wally Y3K (GER).

By 20:00 CEST, the fleet had already spread out with these three leading boats in the process of rounding the island of Ponza. Filip Balcaen's Nilaya, travelling at 6.5 knots, held a narrow lead over Jethou and Y3K. These three are set for a cat and mouse tussle throughout the night with further calm conditions forecast. Stacked further behind is Marton Jozsa's Mini Maxi Wild Joe (HUN), currently on the approach to Ponza along with the fastest Italian boat, the 65-ft Twin Soul 6.

The fifteen yachts competing in Leg One comprise ten different nationalities and some renowned international sailors including Brad Butterworth on Jethou, Nilaya's Bouwe Bekking whilst the 67-ft Caol Ila (USA) can count on the experience of Rolex Sydney Hobart winners Gordon Maguire and John Hildebrand.

The fleet are set to arrive in Capri throughout the day tomorrow before berthing for the night. Leg Two of the race commences at 11:00 CEST on Tuesday 22 May and comprises a 300-nautical mile voyage around the Aeolian Islands, including the volcanic island of Stromboli, the symbol of another challenging offshore adventure, the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

The overall winner of Leg Two will receive the coveted Rolex Trophy and timepiece during the traditional Rolex party at the iconic La Canzone del Mare, held on Friday 25 May.

Race information and results:

2012 Vice Admiral's Cup
Photo by Fiona Brown, Click on image for photo gallery.

Vice Admiral's Cup Cowes, UK - The wind gods smiled at last on the final day of the 2012 Vice Admirals' Cup in Cowes, where the 73 strong fleet enjoyed two final races in a 12-16 knot north-north-easterly. An ebb tide kept the sea relatively flat and conditions were near perfect for the final showdown.

Again the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club's Race Committee took their race courses up onto the Hillhead Plateau and with the stronger winds they were able to set longer windward leeward courses using a mix of laid and permanent marks.

In Class O the 17 crews competing for places in the GBR Team at the 2012 Brewin Dolphin Commodores' Cup made the most of their last chance to secure a team slot. An announcement about selections will be made by the RYA on Tuesday evening, but selection committee member Chris Mason reported that they have been very impressed with the standard of racing. After two more intense and extremely close races those now feeling pretty confident of selection must include Dignity, owned by Andrew Williams, who extended their overnight lead to claim the top podium spot with a 6 point advantage, Jonathan Goring's Keronimo who took second place and Andrew Pearces's Magnum II in third.

Full Results of all classes:

Running the Rhumblines
Rod Sawyer's Peter Norlin designed Surefoot regarded as the Golden Oldie showed she still has the class to outpace her handicap rating in the Whitsunday Sailing Club sprint race series on Pioneer Bay.

A lot of water has passed under her keel since her glory days of representing the Royal Papua Yacht Club during the 1983 Champagne Mumm Admirals Cup in England and she is showing her age but still manages to produce a competitive performance.

Naturally her race weary sail wardrobe apart from a recent new headsail needs some 'grunt' in the breeze to iron out the wrinkles and smooth out the required shape to help provide a competitive boat speed.

However her race results have become an added bonus for Rod Sawyer and his happy team who are proud to wear the traditional Surefoot crew shirt.

They instinctively understand that the 'Old Girl' has naturally become a little tired yet still manages to become the yacht to beat when the moderate to fresh trade winds blow into the Whitsunday Islands.

Last Wednesday when the more open waters of the Whitsunday Passage were tormented by the 20-25 knot trade winds Surefoot was in her element on a more sheltered Pioneer Bay. However both her skipper and crew revelled in the conditions as they tested their boat speed and combined crew technique in what proved to be an absorbing and close match race with the Ross Winterbourn helmed Bobby D and the Nick Smail skippered Huahine for the fastest corrected time in race 20 of the Sprint race championship.

All three crews shared a chance to win before Surefoot claimed a close but popular 9 second victory over Bobby D while the visiting Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron skipper Nick Smail steered Huahine into third another 21 seconds astern.

Damien Suckling again secured his strangle hold on the series line honours trophy when he helmed Another Fiasco to her 2 minute 43 second win over Jeff Brown's Double O Seven while John Galloway consistently sailed Queensland Marine Services into third place.

Craig Piccinelli's Wobbly Boot who normally excels in the stronger winds finished with the fourth fastest corrected time to retain the overall championship lead on 81 points from Queensland Marine Services 100 points and the Kevin Fogarty skippered Twister 113 points.

All three crews are will continue with their tactical duel on Pioneer Bay this week as the countdown begins to record the best local boat result during the Airlie Beach Race Week later this year. -- Ian Grant

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The Last Word
Don't become a well-rounded person. Well rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a puffer fish. -- Bruce Sterling

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