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Sunday, 17 May, 1998, 20:28 GMT 21:28 UK
Leg Eight: Toshiba snatches victory
Toshiba sunset
Sunset on Toshiba
Toshiba has held off a strong challenge from Silk Cut to win the eighth leg of the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race.

Toshiba, skippered by Paul Standbridge, glided across the line in light airs at 17.37 (GMT) on Saturday, just 10 minutes ahead of Silk Cut.

The British yacht, skippered by Lawrie Smith had continually cut into Toshiba's lead as the boats raced towards La Rochelle and finished less than one nautical mile behind.

Toshiba crew
The struggle for first on Toshiba
The eighth leg has been a long-overdue success for both boats, who were expected to to well from the start. Before this leg Silk Cut was languishing in sixth place having won just one leg, and Toshiba was in seventh overall having suffered a series of mishaps, including being disqualified from leg five, and the subject of a successful protest in leg seven.

But this time Standbridge, Toshiba's British skipper has sailed an excellent leg, according to most observers.

While others in the fleet positioned themselves too far south or too far north, Toshiba caught the benefit of the Gulf Stream. It stayed away from a high pressure zone with light winds off Nova Scotia, and built up a big enough lead to withstand the challenge from Silk Cut which was in the right place to benefit from the conditions in the second half of the leg.

The rivalry between Standbridge and Smith on this leg has been intensified by the fact that they are good friends, with Standbridge crewing for Smith on Intrum Justitia in the 1993-94 race.

Chessie Racing, which had adopted similar tactics to Silk Cut and had joined the British yacht's surge to the finish, was just 18 miles behind. Fourth-placed EF Education was 63.9 miles behind as Toshiba crossed the line.

Merit Cup
Round-the-clock effort on Merit Cup
This, the penultimate leg of the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, was a 3,390-mile dash across the North Atlantic, from Annapolis, Maryland, to La Rochelle on France's Atlantic coast.

Crews had to deal with fog, lights winds from an Atlantic high, and the constant threat of icebergs drifting down from the Arctic.

To make things worse, several of the yachts were running short of food as the race neared its end.

The final leg is between La Rochelle and Southampton.

See also:

19 Apr 98 | Whitbread yacht race
10 May 98 | Sport
28 Apr 98 | Whitbread yacht race
12 May 98 | Sport
08 May 98 | Sport
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