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PUMA Take Inshore Title as Groupama Celebrate Overall Victory
Photo by Ian Roman / Volvo Ocean Race. Click on image for photo gallery.

A PUMA team decked out in Irish rugby shirts rounded off the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 in style on Saturday, securing victory in the In-Port Race series with a win on the waters of Galway on a day that saw Groupama celebrate overall success in sailing's toughest challenge.

Ken Read's team scored a commanding first place in the Discover Ireland In-Port Race, their ninth podium finish of the 10-race inshore series and a first victory.

A scrap for second between CAMPER and Groupama saw the two teams virtually inseparable right to the end of the 8.2-nautical mile course with Chris Nicholson's team stealing the runners-up prize on the day, and in the series as a whole.

A last-minute comeback from Telefonica saw them steal the final podium position from Groupama on Saturday, but fourth was enough to give the French team third overall in the inshore series.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing finished fifth ahead of Team Sanya.

A penalty for obstructing Sanya saw Ian Walker's Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew relegated to sixth, as PUMA, Groupama and CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand fought it out at the head of the fleet.

By the fourth mark the PUMA crew had eked out a 26-second lead, challenging Groupama and CAMPER to pull out something special to catch them.

Meanwhile Sanya and Telefonica locked horns in pursuit of fourth while Abu Dhabi tried to reduce the huge deficit caused by their penalty.

Driven to score their first in-port win, there was no stopping PUMA as a flawless performance saw them extended their lead, holding on to take the win around the 8.2 nautical mile course by one minute and 19 seconds and secure the overall in-port title.

CAMPER's second in the inshore series rounded off a successful Volvo Ocean Race campaign which also saw them take second in the overall rankings.

The next edition of the race will start in 2014 and will be raced in 65ft one-design boats from Farr Yacht Design.

Results of Discover Ireland In-Port Race, Galway:

1. PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG 53 minutes 12 seconds
2. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand + 1:19
3. Team Telefonica: + 1:56
4. Groupama sailing team: + 2:29
5. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing: +4:00
6. Team Sanya: +4:32

Home Champion Crowned after Swedish Masterclass
Photo by Alpari World Match Racing Tour / Rick Tomlinson. Click on image to enlarge.

Marstrand, Sweden: Swedish number one Bjorn Hansen saw off a spirited challenge from Tour legend and four-time World Champion Peter Gilmour to lift the STENA Match Cup Sweden trophy and retain his lead at the top of the Alpari World Match Racing Tour leaderboard.

Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing called on all of the experience he has gained during his previous seven wins at the event but was ultimately unable to match Hansen's (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team, who barely put a foot wrong from the opening day of competition and won the final 3-0.

Gilmour felt that his opponent had had the better of the day's sailing and was philosophical about the loss, saying: "There wasn't anything specifically that went too far wrong but I think our underlying strategy, probably we needed to start to the right. We were thinking that we needed to start to the left and every time we did, the gap would just get bigger and open up for him whereas normally it goes the other way. Every start was the same and he just had that going for him. When he got 2-0 up a bit of pressure comes into the system and to be honest, they did a really nice job."

Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team finished the final day unbeaten, having started the session by seeing out the remainder of his Semi Final battle against Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar. He won both remaining matches and booked his place in the STENA Match Cup Sweden Final with a 3-1 victory, much to the delight of the attending home fans.

Chicago Match Cup will take place on 10 - 15 July.

Final Result:
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team vs Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing 3-0

Petit Final Result:
Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar vs Phil Robertson (NZ) WAKA Racing 2-1

Semi Final Results:
Peter Gilmour (AUS) YANMAR Racing vs Phil Robertson (NZ) WAKA Racing 3-1
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Mekonomen Sailing Team vs Ian Williams (GBR) GAC Pindar 3-1

Pressure Increases for Leg 3 Start
The third leg of La Solitaire du Figaro - Eric Bompard Cashmere started Sunday at 1300hrs (CEST) in exciting conditions of a 12 knot westerly and 2m swell with sunshine breaking through off the coast of Saint Gilles Croix de Vie, and saw British skipper Sam Goodchild (Artemis 23) getting a flying start behind Leg 2 front-runner Nicolas Lunven (Generali).

The 36 skippers (Anthony Marchand did not line up despite his earlier hopes to resume racing) first negotiated a 10-mile inshore course before setting off towards Brittany on the first coastal leg of this 486-mile stage. At the end of the dog-leg, Nicolas Lunven (Generali) was in front of Sam Goodchild (Artemis 23). Paul Meilhat (Skipper Macif 2011), Nicolas Jossier (In Extenso Accountants) and Jean-Pierre Nicol (Bernard Controls) each made good starts but had dropped back by the Geolink buoy.

After the first run, the leaders' positions at the Radio France buoy remained unchanged, with third placed Morgan Lagraviere (Vendee) followed by Fabien Delahaye (Skipper Macif 2012) as Lunven led the fleet away from the Vendee stop-over port in a 12-knot westerly. Nick Cherry (GBR, Artemis 77) had a poor kite drop at the leeward mark and found himself in last position, but has been steadily regaining places over the afternoon.

By this afternoon's position report Lunven was fractionally leading Morvan by less than 0.1 miles, with Goodchild the same distance to the south, in third. Yann Elies, provisional leader of the overall standings, is in 12th position, with two miles covering the fleet.

The sailors are now heading towards the Glenan Archipelago off Concarneau, first racing past Belle-Ile, around 60 miles away.

Top 10 at the Radio France buoy:
1. Nicolas Lunven (Generali)
2. Sam Goodchild (Artemis 23)
3. Morgan Lagraviere (Vendee)
4. Fabien Delahaye (Skipper Macif 2012)
5. Gildas Morvan (Cercle Vert)
6. Thomas Normand (Financiere de l'Echiquier)
7. Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat)
8. Vincent Biarnes (Prati'Buches)
9. Fred Duthil (Sepalumic)
10. Jeanne Gregoire (Banque Populaire)

Superb tracking software:

Richardson's Barking Mad Takes its First Farr 40 North American Title
Photo by Daniel Forster, Click on image for photo gallery.

Newport Rhode Island, USA: Over four days of racing at the Rolex Farr 40 North American Championship, held off Newport, R.I. from Wednesday, July 4 through Saturday, July 7, it was anyone's guess as to who would win, since leading up to Saturday's final two races there had been seven different race winners over the previous eight races and each day had yielded a different overall leader. The event, headquartered at the Newport Shipyard and sailed on Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island Sound, hosted 11 teams that kept the bets going through to the last day, when Jim Richardson's (Newport, R.I.) Barking Mad finally settled everything by clinching the championship after the day's first of two races and finishing with an overall lead of six points.

Crewing for Richardson were Eric Aakhus (Newport Beach, Calif.); Dave Armitage (Newport, R.I.); Lindsay Bartel (Chicago, Ill.); Skip Baxter (Annapolis, Md.); David Chapman (Sydney Aus/Cowes UK); Zac Hurst, Zac (Valencia Spain); Martin Kullman (St. Petersburg, Fla.); Linda Lindquist-Bishop (Leland, Mich./Seoul Korea); and Matt Mcdonough (Jackson Hole, Wyoming).

In Race 10, with Richardson holding an unassailable 13-point lead, a dogfight broke out among three teams separated by only one point from each other. Fates weren't sealed until the last leg, however, when the wind lightened, allowing an escape for Alberto Rossi's (Ancona, Italy) Enfant Terrible to pass Alexander Roepers' Plenty and cross the finish line in first. It put Enfant Terrible in second overall with 45 points, just two-points ahead of Struntje light, skippered by Wolfgang Schaefer (Germany), which finished in third-place overall with a fourth-place finish. Plenty had to settle for fourth overall with a fifth-place finish and 50 points, while Richardson,

Final Results

1. Barking Mad, James Richardson , USA, 39 points
2. Enfant Terrible, Alberto Rossi, ITA, 45
3. Struntje light, Wolfgang Schaefer, GER, 47
4. Plenty, Alexander Roepers, USA, 50
5. Provezza 8, Ergin Imre / Onur Erardag, TUR, 57
6. Groovederci, John Demourkas, USA, 59
7. Transfusion, Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, AUS, 61
8. Nightshift, Kevin McNeil, USA, 64
9. Asterisk Uno, Hasip Gencer, TUR, 64
10. Charisma, Nico Poons, MON, 68
11. Yellow Jacket, Bulman Scholz Syndicate, USA, 106

Porto Stadium Delivers 'Best-Ever' Extreme Sailing Series Racing
Photo by Roy Riley / Lloyd Images. Click on image for photo gallery.

If Saturday's racing in Porto was spectacular, Sunday's's was extraordinary with bigger crowds than the Extreme Sailing Series has ever witnessed. An estimated 38,000 spectators on the final day (66,000 estimated over the event) surrounded the Extreme Stadium on both Porto and Gaia sides of the Douro river and on top of the iconic Dom Luis I bridge, to witness a day of high-adrenalin, heart-stopping, high-speed action. The sailors described the racing as "right on the limit" - and no-one on land would question it.

Porto saved the best for last for the eight Extreme 40s, with blue skies, and a building sea breeze funneling down the River that ended the day at 20 knots or more in the gusts.

It was a deserved win for McMillan's Omani team, who won 10 of the 32 races over the last four days - more than any other team - in one of the more dominating performances the event has seen.

Porto has provided a stadium like no other for the Extreme 40s with spectacular sailing, crowds and the NeilPryde Racing Series providing the perfect warm up to the Extreme 40s. With four Acts complete and four Acts to go, the Series is at its halfway stage. McMillan's lead may be impressive, but it isn't unreachable. Next stop is another new venue when the Series will visit the Welsh capital of Cardiff for Act 5 from the 30th August - 2 September.

Porto, Portugal standings after Day 4, 32 races
1. The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan / Ed Smyth / Pete Greenhalgh / Hashim Al Rashdi / Bleddyn Mon, 198 points
2. Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara / Hans Peter Steinacher / Matthew Adams / Graeme Spence, Pierre Le Clainche, 183
3. Oman Air (OMA) Morgan Larson / Will Howden / Charlie Ogletree / Nasser Al Mashari / Andy Maloney, 156
4. Alinghi (SUI), Ernesto Bertarelli / Jean-Christophe Mourniac / Pierre Yves Jorand / Nils Frei / Yves Detrey, 145
5. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) Pierre Pennec / Arnaud Psarofaghis/ Herve Cunningham / Bernard Labro / Romain Petit, 137
6. SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram‐Hansen / Rasmus Kostner / Pete Cumming / Mikkel Rossberg / Jonas Hviid, 129
7. GAC Pindar (GBR) Andrew Walsh / Nick Rogers/ Mark Bulkeley / Adam Piggot / Jono Macbeth, 126
8. ZouLou (FRA) Fred Le Peutrec / Philippe Mourniac / Jean-Sebastien Ponce / Bruno Jeanjean / Patrick Aucour, 123

Extreme Sailing Series 2012 Overall Series Results after Act 4
1. The Wave, Muscat, 39 points
2. Red Bull Sailing Team, 33
3. Oman Air Team, 31
4. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, 31
5. GAC Pindar, 22
6. Alinghi, 18
7. SAP Extreme Sailing Team, 18
8. ZouLou, 16

Simon Brien Claims Overall and Corinthian Titles at 2012 Edinburgh Cup
Photo by Fiona Brown, Click on image for photo gallery.

Cultra, Northern Ireland: Sadly fog meant there could be no racing for the 45 competing teams on the final day of the 2012 Dragon Edinburgh Cup sponsored by Belfast Harbour and hosted by the Royal North of Ireland Yacht club at Cultra on Belfast Lough.

The day three results therefore stood with five of the six possible races being completed and the 2012 Edinburgh Cup Champions declared as Simon Brien, Mark Brien and David Gomes from Cultra sailing IRL214 KIN, the second time they have lifted this historic trophy.

In second place was Martin Byrne from Dublin sailing IRL201 Jaguar with Pedro Andrade and Adam Winkleman, and in third was reigning Dragon World Champion Lawrie Smith from Lymington, sailing GBR763 Alfie with Ossie Stewart and Tim Tavinor.

Monaco's Jens Rathsack, sailing MON2 with Stefan Waak and Mario Wagner finished fourth with the Solent Fleet's Julia Bailey, Graham Bailey, Dylan Potter and Will Heritage in GBR720 Aimee fifth, and Gavia Wilkinson-Cox also of Cowes, sailing GBR761 Jerboa with Martin Payne and Rui Boya sixth.

Local boys all, the KIN team's performance is all the more remarkable when you bear in mind that Simon was also the regatta's organiser so he had to contend with both tough competition and the water and a very considerable organisational challenge ashore. Their win also stands out because KIN is an all-amateur Corinthian team in a fleet that includes many of the world's top professional sailors including 7 Olympians, several America's Cup veterans and multiple World and Continental Champions.

The Northern Area Championship and Edinburgh Cup in Cultra formed the first two events in the 2012 Brewin Dolphin Irish Grand Slam. From here to crews move onto the Irish Championships in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin from 4-7 June, then the Irish South Coast Championship in Kinsale from 1-2 September and the final event in the series is the Dragon Gold Cup, also in Kinsale, from 8-14 October.

The 2013 Edinburgh Cup will take place from Portland and Weymouth Sailing Academy from 26-30 June and the 2013 Dragon World Championship will also be raced there from 5-13 September.

Top Five Overall

1. KIN - Simon Brien, IRL, 11 points
2. Jaguar - Martin Byrne, IRL, 20
3. Alfie - Lawrie Smith, GBR, 22
4. Jeanie - Jens Rathsack, MON, 23
5. Aimee - Julia Bailey, GBR, 24

Goodbye New York, Hello Atlantic
Temperatures were sweltering, the pressure intense as New York bid farewell to the MOD70 fleet when if left the sticky, busy confines of the Hudson River bound for the liberty of the open sea and the start of the KRYS Ocean Race, 2950 high speed miles to Brest.

Winds were only light on New York's hottest day of 2012 so far, with only the occasional puff to send the fleet of five MOD70's en route, though the strong contrary current made life hard when the giant mulihulls stuck to the water.

Ahead is a six day sprint across the Atlantic to Brest, which will test the five teams' abilities to maintain high speeds hour-after-hour. And in the new fleet which is studded with the fastest ocean racers on the planet, all are sure the level will be high, but the question most teams were pondering as they left today was exactly how high?

As the first 24 hours of racing elapsed since a relatively benign, sticky departure from New York, it was Sidney Gavignet and the international crew of Musandam-Oman Sail which set the bar, heading for a first day's run of around 610 miles. The team which includes two less experienced Omani sailors - Moshin Al Busaidi and Fahad Al Hasni - were just under five miles ahead of Seb Josse's Gorupe Edmond de Rothschild.

During a first night during which FONCIA skipper Michel Desjoyeaux admitted that they had initially struggled to find their ideal configuration and pace, Gavignet and his crew took the lead during the small hours of Sunday. Though they latterly conceded a few miles to Josse and his crew, Musandam-Sail Oman showed a sustained speed advantage, averaging more than 30kts. 

The fleet remained tightly matched with just six miles of lateral separation between Musandam-Oman Sail to the south and the track of Groupe Edmond de Rothschild and Foncia slightly to the north.

Weather forecasts confirm at least another two days of high speed conditions.

Keith Musto Joins in the Olympic Torch Countdown
Photo courtesy Musto Clothing. Click on image to enlarge.

Keith Musto, 1964 Tokyo Olympic Silver medal winner and founder of Musto Clothing joined in the Olympic Torch Countdown today, as he got to carry the Olympic Torch as part of its journey across the country. As excitement for the games continues, Keith carried the Torch between St. Johns Road and Myland Halls Chase, North of Colchester Town Centre in front of hundreds of well-wishers.

It was a fitting occasion for Keith, with the Olympics so close to his heart having won silver in sailing in the Flying Dutchman class at the Tokyo summer games in 1964.

Keith's own incredible journey has always involved sailing, taking to the water at the age of 15 and spending little time off it since. Following national service, Keith began working on sailing masts and sails and between 1955 and 1963 Keith became a leading dinghy sailor, winning national championships in 5 different classes.

Following his Olympic success, Keith's entrepreneurial spirit and sailing enthusiasm led him to focus on sailing and outdoor clothing and in 1965 he set up Musto clothing.

Clipper Race 14 Underway as Fleet Spars for Final Positions on Leader Board
Photo by Martin McKeown. Click on image for photo gallery.

After a spectacular visit and farewell ceremony held in Derry-Londonderry the UK City of Culture 2013, thousands of spectators flocked to wish the fleet well as it performed an impressive parade of sail on the River Foyle to mark the start of Race 14 to Den Helder in the Netherlands.

As the teams settle back into life at sea thoughts about the amazing visit to Derry-Londonderry are now turning to what lies ahead and the fleet is back into full race mode, pressing north to round the top of the British Isles before heading into the North Sea.

Following an unfavourable start to the race Gold Coast Australia has chased down the lading pack in the last few hours, sparring with Singapore and Welcome to Yorkshire over a distance of two miles. With only 30 miles separating the fleet, it will be interesting to see how the positions change over the next few days of this challenging race.

To add to the challenge Stealth Mode periods, Scoring Gate and Ocean Sprint points do not apply in this short 800-mile race, putting the pressure on to secure those all-important podium points.

Race 14 to Den Helder in the Netherlands is the penultimate competition in the Clipper 11-12 Race, the fleet is expected to arrive between 11-13 July and will be berthed at the Willemsoord Marina. The fleet will set off on its final race back to Southampton on 19 July, finishing in the Solent on Sunday 22 July.

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