Cape Town is beginning to seem like paradise on earth, says Global Challenge skipper Eero Lehtinen
Less than 600 miles to go. We have been enjoying fast and easy sailing in fantastic sunshine, 22 degrees of sea water and in top spirit on board. We have been gaining on all important boats lately, putting more than ten miles between us and Barclays, leaving Samsung more than 60 miles behind and looking like a bit stronger 6th at the moment. But… as I’m writing this the mainsail is banging from side to side, headsails are mostly hanging unfilled and the boat is hardly moving. A huge high pressure that we have been tracking and frantically escaping for the last couple of days has finally reached us. And it seems like it’s not going to let us go that soon again.
The boats further south seem to be suffering more or at least earlier – that’s why we have worked our way to the northern edge of the fleet. So far so good, but the real point is who’s going to stay in it for shortest and how and when do we get some new wind again? It seems to be north-easterlies that are filling in next, but also it seems like the most westerly boats, that is, the leaders, will be clear first. So no great hope for massive miracles there.
On board there is a funny mix of great relief of having left the cold and grey waters (they call that place the Southern Ocean) behind but also an increasing excitement about getting closer to Cape Town. What are we gonna eat and drink first, how long are we going to sleep the first morning, who will be waiting on the pontoon, where are we going to go during the week off, the long showers are we going to take, what clothes are we going to wear and so on. All of a sudden the normal life on shore sounds like a paradise. And, to be honest, in a city like Cape Town it almost is like a paradise!
For myself the joy of getting there is multiple. Seeing my wife Tonya and kids Alex, Eddie and Hanna after such a long time (six-and-a-half months) is by far the number one. But also getting off the boat after being ill for weeks is also putting a smile on my face. Seeing some more family and friends, getting onto my future plans in Cape Town and just being at home – even if a temporary one – sounds like a great idea.
I am also relieved and happy about the race turning onto its home straight, even if we still have three legs to complete after this one. I strongly believe that as we have got this far in this good shape, the rest (touch wood) should not be a problem. The thought that this will be all over in just over three months time is almost scary! Can we still live a normal life, and what is normal life anyway?
After about 24 hours time we should know who got out of this first and then it’s time to start tracking the next “parking lot” which will slow us down just before getting to Cape Point and the final 100 miles. So, patience is the key word here. And for our supporters in Cape Town – do not rush to V&A Waterfront with your binoculars quite yet!
Keep the beers cold
Eero Lehtinen, skipper SAIC La Jolla