With a lead of just 20 miles will Qingdao be able to hold its nerve? As the fleet continues to close in and the north - south divide starts to shrink, Race 8 - The Old Pulteney Navigator Cup looks set to be one the tightest and hotly contested finishes so far in the Clipper 2013-14 Race.
The fleet has now begun to close ranks with Henri Lloyd, Jamaica Get All Right and GREAT Britain less than 25 miles behind current leader Qingdao.
With so much at stake skipper of Henri Lloyd, Eric Holden knows that with the finish line in sight, the race is still anyone’s for the taking:
“We are just passing the 225 mile mark to the finish and this race is so close with boats closing in from the north and the south. This race is anyones for the taking and it may be as close as any of the races thus far.”
With light winds forecast to the south, slightly stronger winds to the north, as well as a combination of favourable and unfavourable currents, the changeable conditions will push the fleet’s patience to the edge.
After a disappointing result in Race 7 PSP Logistics which is currently in tenth place in Race 8 will be doing all it can to make up the ground on its competitors in hope of securing a podium finish. Skipper Chris Hollis weighs up the options:
“So what tactics are available? We could come up on the wind to create a better wind angles for the sails to work better - which is a great idea, but then our course is nowhere near where we need to go, and then we will eventually have to start gybing in the light weather to reach the finish, which in turn we would have sailed many more miles to get there... or, we sail downwind with the sails let out all the way and sail a straight line to the finish.”
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