Race 8 Day 23: Tension builds as the fleet races to the finish line in Race 8

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It has been one of the toughest and most challenging races so far in the Clipper 2013-14 Race, and with less than 100 miles left until the finish line in Race 8A, no one can predict who will win the first stage of The Old Pulteney Navigator Cup.

With the finish line in sight nerves are starting to build and speculation is rife as the teams try to predict how this race will conclude. With the fleet split in two, with the more northerly teams vs, the teams from the south, less than four miles currently separates the top three as Qingdao, Henri Lloyd and GREAT Britain fight it out to the end. Skipper of GREAT Britain, Simon Talbot is under no illusion where his competition lies:

“Oh my goodness, what a nail biter, again! The wind has finally filled and it is still almost impossible to call. We have the northern lead pack consisting of Qingdao, Henri Lloyd and ourselves who are all within three miles of each other in terms of distance to the finish mark.

“We also have the southern lead pack consisting of OneDLL and Old Pulteney who on paper are 10 miles further back than the northern lead pack, but have a much better angle to run into the mark at and are again within three miles of each other in terms of distance to finish, meaning that with the weather forecast to favour the southern lead pack we could literally see five yachts cross the finish line within half an hour of each other.”

Skipper of Switzerland, Vicky Ellis which is one of the most northerly yachts in Race 8A, knows that anything could happen in the closing stages:

“We have only 100 miles left to go as I type and we are estimated to finish in the European evening, so keep the Race Viewer on over dinner!  All the finishing positions are still up for grabs in this epically long first part of Race 8.  It may be one of the closest finishes we have seen yet, it’s doing my nerves no good, I'm shaking but that may be the coffee!”

It was a close encounter of a different kind for Team Garmin after spotting a suspicious vessel heading straight for them in the last 24 hours. After suspecting pirates, the vessel turned out to be an overzealous fisherman. Skipper Mark Burkes shares his relief:

“We came across a very odd looking fishing vessel this morning, about 80 miles off the Philippines. It looked like a large house boat, multi-coloured with 4 or 5 skiffs sitting on the log rafts around its base…Thankfully, the 'threat' transpired to be just a fishing boat."

To keep an eye on the fleets progress and to view the Official Race Viewer click here

To read all the skipper reports click here