Team Brunel narrowly holding onto their lead as the field tightens up nearing Newport in the Volvo Ocean Race

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Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Brunel. Peeling in the North Atlantic one day out from Newport. 06 May, 2018. (Photo © Sam Greenfield/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Brunel. Peeling in the North Atlantic one day out from Newport. 06 May, 2018.
(Photo © Sam Greenfield/Volvo Ocean Race)

Team Brunel were on the brink of Leg 8 victory on Monday as they led the seven-strong Volvo Ocean Race fleet towards Newport, USA, with a 14-mile advantage.

The Dutch crew, skippered by esteemed round the world yachtsman Bouwe Bekking, were speeding up after making it through a light wind patch lying 200 miles from the finish line ahead of their rivals.

At 0700 UTC their lead had been reduced to just seven miles, pressed hard by Franco-Chinese outfit Dongfeng Race Team, but by 1300 the new breeze had allowed them to double that.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Vestas 11th Hour. Charlie Enright at the pit before the gybe. 06 May, 2018. (Photo © Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Vestas 11th Hour. Charlie Enright at the pit before the gybe. 06 May, 2018. (Photo © Martin Keruzore/Volvo Ocean Race)

Brunel had just 182.2 miles to go at the 1300 UTC position update, having led the fleet on the 5,600-mile leg from Itajai, Brazil, since exiting the Doldrums a week ago.

If Brunel were to hang on it would be their second consecutive stage win having taken the top spot in Leg 7.

However, despite Brunel’s lead, helmsman Kyle Langford is predicting a photo finish.

“There’s going to be plenty of action on deck and not a lot of sleep,” he said. “It’s going to be all on for the last 24 hours.”

Across the fleet the crews were today preparing for one last big push.

“We now have 30 hours of hard work, strong winds, light winds, big transitions and lots of   sail changes,” said Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Dongfeng. 06 May, 2018. Charles Caudrelier stacking while Jackson gets out of the hatch, ready to help. (Photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Dongfeng. 06 May, 2018. Charles Caudrelier stacking while Jackson gets out of the hatch, ready to help. (Photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race)

“All the team is in inshore mode and on standby. We have to keep this second place or pass Team Brunel, but ahead of us we face a very tricky situation and there are lots of options and maybe a re-start in light air in 12 hours’ time.

“We need maximum concentration. There is maximum stress on board but we are happy to arrive in this fantastic place for a stopover.”

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Turn the Tide on Plastic. 07 May, 2018. (Photo © James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board Turn the Tide on Plastic. 07 May, 2018. (Photo © James Blake/Volvo Ocean Race)

Having climbed through the fleet over the past few days, at 1300 UTC MAPFRE had overhauled Dee Caffari’s Turn the Tide on Plastic in the rankings to move into third.

It’s a cruel blow for Turn the Tide on Plastic crew, who have pushed for the top spot all leg and led at times, but skipper Dee Caffari said she wouldn’t stop fighting until the finish.

“It’s disappointing but there are still opportunities,” she said. “The wind is starting to fill, and it’s not over yet.”

The Volvo Ocean Race tracker will remain live until the end of the leg, showing race fans the exact positions of the fleet as they battle for Leg 8 glory.

The latest ETA for the leading boats is 0600 – 1000 UTC at the moment.

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board MAPFRE, back to 20+ kts of boat speed. Rob, Willy, Xabi an Tamara on deck. 06 May, 2018. ( Photo © Ugo Fonolla/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 from Itajai to Newport, day 15 on board MAPFRE, back to 20+ kts of boat speed. Rob, Willy, Xabi an Tamara on deck. 06 May, 2018. ( Photo © Ugo Fonolla/Volvo Ocean Race)

 

 

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