Leg 8, Day 13: Dongfeng is the hunter and the hunted as the endgame nears

The endgame of the long leg from Brazil to New England is upon us as the leading boats sail ever further north and closer to the high pressure and light winds, giving the chasing pack a chance to catch up.

The final few hundred miles look anything but simple as navigators calculate when to gybe and head towards the finish where a new high off New England is going to make the closing stages very tricky.

Dongfeng has been converging on the track of leg leader, Team Brunel, from her more westerly position and is now just under six miles behind the Dutch boat in line astern. The Chinese team has thus halved its deficit to Bouwe Bekking’s crew.

In third place, behind the red and white Volvo Ocean 65, Vestas 11th Hour Racing has also made gains and is just three miles further back and the other boats are all closing up, with MAPFRE now just under 45 miles behind the lead in sixth place.

The danger for both Dongfeng and Brunel, as they continue blast reaching at 22 knots of boatspeed about 800 miles due east of Miami, is that they will sail into lighter winds first and surrender the advantage that they have held for days.

There are now just over 1,000 miles to go and everyone is looking ahead at how this game of nautical chess is going to pan out.

“For sure it is not an easy position because (we) are going to be first in the high pressure,” said Dongfeng Race Team all-rounder Kevin Escoffier. “You’ve got less wind than the boats behind you, so you know that they will catch up on you.”

Position report at 08h49UTC:

1 - Team Brunel 1026nm from Newport

2 - Dongfeng Race Team 4.7nm from the leader

3 - Vestas 11th Hour 8.1nm

4 - Turn The Tide of Plastic 29nm

5 - AkzoNobel 42.9nm

6 - MAPFRE 43.8nm

7 - Scallywag 166.9nm