The Dutch boats of the AkzoNobel and Brunel teams are headed bow to bow towards the stage port of Cardiff. Late on Sunday evening, the purple and yellow boats were no longer separated by 230 nautical miles from the finish line. The two teams sail permanently in sight of each other and know what is in store for them. While Charles Caudrelier's Dongfeng Race Team (19.8 nautical miles behind) and Charlie Enright's Vestas 11th Hour Racing (41.2 nautical miles behind) push and the Spanish team Mapfre, which is fifth in the overall standings and 60 nautical miles behind, continues to push After the top group struggles, there is not exactly a rally course to the finish line in front of the "flying" Dutch.
The tension of the AkzoNobel crew in the duel with Team Brunel can be seen on the face of the sailors. Right in the picture: the British navigator Jules Salter, who knows the destination area very well
On board AkzoNobel, the crew always has their direct opponent, Team Brunel, in their sights
The forecast predicts strong tide and little wind as it approaches Cardiff in the Bristol Channel. Will there be another dramatic lull final like the last one in the final sprint of stage 8 to Newport, when the Spanish team Mapfre was able to intercept the Dutch team Brunel after their long lead in the last meters?
AkzoNobel skipper Simeon Tienpont said on Sunday afternoon: "We don't want to lose this first place! The tide will play an important role. At the moment, I still believe that the wind will be enough to Cardiff. And we have with Jules (Navigator Jules Salter, d. Red.) a man with local knowledge on board. But if the wind is not enough, then we will have the anchor ready. " It cannot be ruled out that boats will have to anchor in order not to be pushed backwards by the tide in the very light winds.
Artistic contribution by Kyle Langford to Team Brunel
Brunel's experienced navigator Andrew Cape has his eyes on opponents AkzoNobel. At the wheel, NinCurtis keeps the yellow boat on course
The horsepower on board Brunel is loose … America's Cup winner, Olympic champion and Brunel helmsman Peter Burling smiles - and makes Brunel quick
Team Brunel's skipper Bouwe Bekking also sounded combative on Sunday: "Maybe we sailed the most miles of all of them. But who cares, as long as you are in front! The number one goal for this stage was the two red buses (the one in the Overall ranking in front of Brunel's leading teams Mapfre and Dongfeng, d. Ed.), So that our chance of overall victory lives on. Let's do that first. And we have the feeling that we can pass the front runners. And that is natural important, because three points make a big difference between victory and second place on this stage, which is valued twice."
The eighth day of the stage had started on Sunday evening. It is quite possible, however, that it will not end until the ninth day with the slow-motion final spurt. Current forecasts on Sunday evening for a southerly approach to the Bristol Channel along the coastal towns of St. Yves, Newquay, Port Isaac, Hartland and Ilfracombe - that is, close to land - promised a little more pressure than for a central approach. The target poker has already started and it will be interesting to see who will master this British obstacle course at sea best and perhaps also happiest.
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