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U.S. Team 'PUMA Ocean Racing' Leaders in the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012

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The Volvo Ocean Race is a sailing race that began in 2001, but its roots go back to Sir Francis Chichester and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, men who drew worldwide acclaim for amazing solo voyages around the planet, nearly a century ago.

The race is said to be an "exceptional test of sailing prowess and human endeavour" that was built on the spirit of those great seafarers from the past. Today, the Volvo Ocean Race is considered the "Everest of Sailing."

The race takes place over nine months, beginning back in October at Alicante, Spain and culminating in Galway, Ireland, this July. By the race's end, six teams will have sailed over 39,000 nautical miles of the "world's most treacherous seas via Cape Town, Abu Dhabi, Sanya, Auckland, around Cape Horn to ItajaĆ­, Miami, Lisbon, and Lorient."

Each team includes 11 members, with the skipper and his crew experiencing life at its extreme, living off freeze dried food and experiencing temperature variations from -5 to +40 degrees with just one change of clothes.

The crew must trust their lives to the boat and the skipper through both sleep and hunger deprivation. It's said to undeniably be the world's "premier global race," as well as one of the most demanding team sporting events in the world.

As of Friday, May 4, the U.S. team of PUMA Sailing is currently in the lead with the Emirates Team New Zealand at second place, and the Spanish team, Team Telefonica, following in third place. The PUMA team will return home to Miami on May 6, the only U.S. stop in this year's race. The fleet will arrive into the Downtown Miami Volvo Ocean Race Village at Bicentennial Park, where they will stay for the next two weeks.

PUMA's Mar Mostro, was built and launched in Newport, R. I. Its skipper is Ken Read, widely considered to be one of the world's most accomplished racers. Read was named the "United States Rolex Yachtsman of the Year" twice and has 46 World, North American, and National Championships to his credit.

Those who live in, or who will be visiting, the Miami area will be treated to a wide range of fun festivities surrounding the return of the Mar Mostro beginning this weekend through May 20. A variety of events will take place at the Volvo Ocean Race Village in downtown Miami, with PUMA hosting the PUMA Quad and PUMA Social Truck as part of a two-week festival celebrating the race, and everyone will also be welcoming Read and the crew home. Their return marks the Mar Mostro's full trip around the world since they left the U.S. last fall to start the race.

The events begin on May 6 with an opening party that includes free stand-up paddleboard clinics. On May 18, a fun Pro-Am race will take place where spectators can cheer on the PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG team, and on May 19, just before the Mar Mostro heads out to sea once again, viewers can cheer on the team in the In-Port race. May 20 will bring a spectacular send off to the Mar Mostro and crew as they head out to start Leg 7 of their journey to Lisbon, Portugal.

Anyone who enjoys sailing should try to make it down to Miami this month, it's truly a not-to-be missed event. I'm looking forward to meeting Read and members of the crew to discover what it's like to be onboard the Mar Mostro and being a part of such a tough competition during their final days in Miami.

K.C. Dermody is a freelance writer who has a passion for sports and travel. She is published on Yahoo! Sports in a variety of subjects including the NFL, disc golf, sports health and nutrition, and more. She welcomes comments and suggestions, and can be found at www.facebook.com/KCDermodyWriter.

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