After a day of reasonably high speeds and easy sailing, at 1600 UTC today the Leg 6 lead changed again when CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand (Chris Nicholson/AUS) regained pole position followed by sparring partner Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR).
After separating earlier in the leg, with CAMPER and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing taking a route close to the shore, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG (Ken Read/USA) choosing the middle road, and Telefónica and Groupama, who are struggling to keep pace with the Spanish boat, taking the offshore option, the courses of the five boats are beginning to fuse once more.
Tonight they are picking their way across a permanent and stationary cold front, a 50-mile wide area of storms that has produced a 180-degree wind shift and is now throwing out a much lighter north westerly breeze. As the fleet tacks back and forth around the thunderclouds, separation has started to reduce and at 1900, 30.4 nautical miles (nm) covered the fleet from CAMPER in first place to Groupama in fifth.
Telefónica (Iker Martínez/ESP) and Groupama (Franck Cammas/FRA) are still offshore, intent on covering each other and guarding their positions of first and second in the overall rankings. PUMA who took the lead briefly earlier today, in fourth place on the overall scoreboard, are free to sail their own race, while CAMPER and Abu Dhabi, just 0.4 nm apart, have steered away from the coast and are racing towards the outriders and take on the challenge of the storm area.
The frontal line is light and fluky and just one cloud can rain on the parade of any of the teams and shake up the leg leaderboard up dramatically. The next 12 – 24 hours will be something of a lottery until the first boat reaches the northern edge, however all are confident in the positions they have chosen as they work their way towards Cabo Branco, the easternmost tip of Brazil, 650 nm or so ahead.
“We’re fairly happy with our position. At this stage we wouldn’t swap positions with the guys inshore and we are fairly comfortable with where we are,” said PUMA navigator, Tom Addis.
“Traditionally, from here on up, once you pop on out into the trade winds on the northern side, being east is the thing that is worthwhile, and we are west of our opposition. We are going to try to keep working east and hopefully, when the music starts again on the other side, we will be far enough east to lay Recife in the north of Brazil,” explained Will Oxley, navigator of CAMPER.
“I’m happy with our eastern position,” said Groupama navigator Jean-Luc Nélias. “It’s a bit more logical and I feel it’s less hazardous than the course taken by Abu Dhabi and CAMPER,” he added.
There is at least 100 nm of tricky sailing to complete before the fleet punches through the front and reaches the reasonable breeze on the other side, when the winners will be easy to see and the not so lucky will be searching hard to find a passing lane.
Volvo Ocean Race fans in the US and especially Miami, might have to pull out their Zunes and iPads and rock to that infamous Deniece Williams’s tune – “Let’s Hear It For The Boys” as Team PUMA have wasted no time displaying their intentions to claim stakes in the winner’s circle, when Leg 6 comes to a close Miami, Florida.
After all the Leg 6 start for Team PUMA seems like a special challenge, as the warmth, beauty and conditions of the caribbean waters could be the “home cooking” that Team PUMA will need, as they venture out for the Miami stop-over. This is truly a big deal for the PUMA as their stop in Miami, will be the only one in the US for the 2012 Volvo Ocean Race.
PUMA leads the fleet out of Itajaí and into the first few crucial days of the 4,800 nautical mile course to Miami. After the completion of a six-leg in-shore course race off the coast of Itajia, Team PUMA powered by BERG is followed by Team Telefonica, Camper/Emirates Team New Zealand, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and Groupama sailing team. The five teams are in hot-pursuit of the maximum 30 points, which could prove vital as overall leaders Telefónica hold just a 16-point lead over second-placed Groupama with four legs to go.
The fleet will face more moderate conditions than those encountered in previous leg starts, with about 14 knots from the southeast creating perfect reaching conditions for the opening hours. With conditions likely to favor Groupama, who have proven time and time again that they are the team to beat on a reaching racetrack. The weather is expected to intensify as the crews near the South Brazil Bight, where a violent low-pressure system with wind in excess of 30 knots awaits.
“We can enjoy this leg a lot, it has a lot of good conditions, a lot of reaching conditions,” Groupama skipper Franck Cammas said. “It’s good for the crew, it’s good for the boat, and I think we can manage this Volvo Open 70 very well in these conditions.” But, with CAMPER on the hunt for their first offshore leg victory, no one can rest easy. Co-skipper Stu Bannatyne said his team mates were ready to rumble. “It’s going to be a very tough leg, all the boats will be very tough to beat,” the six-time Volvo veteran said.
As the teams look forward to their “voyage” to Miami, it goes without saying that PUMA will need the cheers and fanfare from local sailing fans, who are interactively involved with the Teams via the various social media and even downloadable applications for the Android and iPhones.
There are plenty of other weather obstacles littering the course from Itajaí including tropical weather systems, strong currents and the dreaded Doldrums.
A tricky transition from the low-pressure system into the south-southeast trade winds will also be crucial. The teams will have to weigh up whether they choose to chase the trade winds further offshore, or take advantage of a strong coastal current and sea breezes inshore in the race to the Caribbean.
The final 1,300 nm stage from the Caribbean to the Miami finish line could prove to be a drag race, but violent lows that develop in the Gulf of Mexico and north of Florida near Cape Hatteras could give rise to an overtaking lane.
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG announced today that Shannon Falcone will sail on board PUMA’s Mar Mostro for Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 from Itajaí, Brazil, to Miami, Florida, USA. Falcone will replace bowman Casey Smith who injured his back during the last leg of the race from Auckland, New Zealand, to Itajaí. Helmsman Kelvin Harrap also rejoins the team, returning from injury after missing Leg 5.
Puma Skipper Ken Read said that the team is really lucky to have Falcone on ‘stand by’ especially for a situation like this. “Losing Casey is a tough situation for our team, eased only by the fact that Shannon has a lot of experience with us – both in the last race and training this past summer. We are really happy that he is ready to go.”
Falcone, 30 from Falmouth Harbour, Antigua, will sail in his second Volvo Ocean Race with PUMA Ocean Racing beginning with Saturday’s In-Port Race in Itajaí. He was part of the PUMA team for the 2008-09 edition of the race, serving as trimmer and pitman for eight legs. Falcone is currently a member of the ORACLE Racing team training for the 34th America’s Cup. In 2010, he was on BMW ORACLE Racing’s extended crew, winner of the 33rd America’s Cup, and he has been a part of the Mascalzone Latino (2000) and Luna Rossa (2007) America’s Cup campaigns.
“The pressure is on,” said Falcone. “It’s always difficult joining a crew after a win, and I have some big shoes to fill in Casey’s absence. The guys did a great job the last leg, and we want to follow up with the same on this next leg to Miami.”
Smith (Brisbane, Australia) injured his lower back just before the start of the grueling Leg 5, and he stayed on board through the team’s first-place finish in the leg. He will remain at home in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, during the upcoming leg for treatment and rehab. He is expected to rejoin the team in Miami.
Harrap, who missed Leg 5 due to carpal tunnel syndrome in both arms as well as bursitis in his elbow, resumes his role with the PUMA crew this week.
Racing gets underway in Itajaí with the Pro Am Race on Friday, April 20, followed by the In-Port Race on Saturday, April 21, and the start of Leg 6 to the lone U.S. stop of Miami, Florida, on Sunday, April 22.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship® (“UFC) is demanding a retraction from the website CagePotato and its executives in connection with alleged false and defamatory statements made about UFC President, Dana White, in an April 14th website posting.
UFC’s attorney, Donald J. Campbell of the Las Vegas law firm, Campbell & Williams released the following excerpt from the demand:
“The claim that Mr. White would financially wager on the outcome of a UFC® event is outrageous in the extreme. Indeed, in the verified complaint we are presently preparing for Mr. White’s signature upon his return from Abu Dhabi, Mr. White expressly states under oath that at no time in the history of his association with the UFC® has he ever financially wagered on the outcome of a UFC® event.”
Mr. Campbell further explained that under Nevada law a demand for retraction is the first required step in the filing of a lawsuit seeking punitive damages against a party that has maliciously published defamatory statements about another.
Universally recognized for its action-packed events, the UFC have sold out some of the biggest arenas and stadiums across the globe. UFC is the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, which is owned and operated by Zuffa, LLC, headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada. With offices in London, Toronto, Canada and Beijing, UFC produces more than 30 live events annually and is the largest Pay-Per-View event provider in the world.
In 2011, the UFC burst into the mainstream with a landmark seven-year broadcast agreement with FOX Sports Media Group. The agreement includes four live events broadcast on the FOX network annually, with additional fight cards and thousands of hours of programming broadcast on FOX properties FX and FUEL TV. This includes the longest-running sports reality show on television, The Ultimate Fighter®, which now airs on FX in an exciting new live format.
In addition to its reach on FOX, UFC programming is broadcast in over 149 countries and territories, to nearly one billion homes worldwide, in 20 different languages. UFC content is also distributed commercially in the United States to bars and restaurants through Joe Hand Promotions. The UFC also connects with tens of millions of fans through its website, UFC.com, as well as social media sites Facebook and Twitter. UFC President Dana White is considered one of the most accessible and followed executives in sports, with nearly two million followers on Twitter.
Timeless Entertainment in association with Monster Energy Drink will host an exclusive VIP and Media listening party for its flagship talent, SHIFTA to unveil his highly anticipated EP “PLAN B” at the trendy “Off The Hookah” in Miami, located inside Bayside Marketplace on Tuesday April 17th 2012 from 6pm to 10pm. “Plan B” is set for a Summer 2012 release and the newest single and music video from the EP “Hungover” will be featured at this event.
Shifta was born into musical royalty, possesses a unique musical talent, and a great deal of showmanship that only legends are made of. Widely recognized both locally and internationally for his lyrical versatility, electrifying music videos and explosive performances, he has, for the last couple years, taken the music industry by storm.
Shifta, now conscious of the “Miami sound”, has dispensed a lethal dose of the industry’s hottest new genre “ international dance” by fusing urban, house, dance, pop and reggae which encompasses international flavors and a variety of influences. Shifta, whose fan base increases on a daily basis, has been enthusiastically received by of music lovers throughout North America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.
Confirmed celebrity guests include renowned and Billboard charted producer, C-ROD and Miami’s own celebrated DJ Papa Keith. Media and VIPs can expect to mingle with other celebrities, tastemakers, sports figures, DJ’s, artists, and industry executives. Horsd’oeuvres, beverages and cocktails will be served, while the styling and sound of Shifta with take the spotalight for entertainment.
Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor told the New York Post on Wednesday that he would not hesitate to “lay out” his close friend, Jets receiver Santonio Holmes, in Sunday’s AFC title game. Taylor and Holmes, the former Steeler, are offseason workout partners and as tight as brothers, but Taylor said that friendship will be put on hold for three hours this weekend at Heinz Field. “I love him and that’s my boy, but when we get between those white lines, it’s a whole different deal,” Taylor said in an interview with The Post after practice.
Obviously, Ike Taylor was not paying attention to the Ray Anderson memo from the league last week which warned players of idle threats and carrying out said threats. It is surprising that Anderson has not commented on the Ike Taylor trash talk. But why would we be disappointed the Jets were only going to play America’s golden team the Patriots.
Taylor further said that he was going to try to be as disrespectful as possible once he and Holmes got between those white lines, the veteran Pittsburgh starter said. “Friendship doesn’t enter into it then.” What must put Holmes and the Jets on notice is that the Steelers’ hard-hitting defense is known to back up hints of bodily harm.
Taylor, who was fined $10,000 by the NFL during the preseason for striking Giants wideout Hakeem Nicks in the head, is just one of several Pittsburgh defenders familiar with the league’s disciplinary department in recent years. Linebacker James Harrison, in fact, is such a noted headhunter that the NFL has fined him four separate times this season alone for a total of $100,000, putting him on the verge of a suspension. Taylor’s comments also probably will not go over well with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the wake of his recent efforts to cut down on unnecessarily violent hits. But Taylor, who is among the team leaders in tackles and defies the usual cornerback reputation by being physical against the run, defiantly said he plans to offer his buddy no quarter.
“I’m not going to hesitate to lay him out,” Taylor said. “No question at all. You know why? Because he ain’t going to hesitate to crack on me if he gets a chance.” Taylor, who became tight with Holmes during the wideout’s four seasons in Pittsburgh, will have to be careful carrying out that vow because hits on “defenseless receivers” are the league’s biggest point of emphasis this year.
Holmes was MVP of Super Bowl XLIII after his acrobatic, toe-tapping touchdown catch with 35 seconds left gave the Steelers a 27-23 victory over the Cardinals. But the 26-year-old was traded to the Jets for a fifth-round pick in last year’s draft, just before the NFL announced he would be suspended for four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Come Ray Anderson, please show the same love for the Jets and Holmes…shaking my head.
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant has championship rings and an MVP trophy, and if that is not enough, now Mr. Bryant gets the nod from Hollywood, He is set to receive an honor usually reserved for the biggest thespians. Bryant will become the first athlete to have a hand and foot print ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
Representatives for the theater announced Thursday that Bryant will have the ceremony setting his hands and feet in cement as part of the NBA’s All-Star Weekend festivities on Feb. 19, the day before the All-Star game at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
More than 200 Hollywood luminaries including John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Halley Berry and Brad Pitt have had their hands and feet set in cement in front of the Hollywood landmark. Congrats to Kobe.