Still a long way to go, but Global Challenge skipper Eero Lehtinen is starting to think of the future
We will soon reach the Crozet Islands, leaving them to port I guess. We are negotiating a huge high pressure ridge at the moment, hoping that our slightly more northerly position will give us a chance to chip away at some of the distance from the leaders. Also most of the boats chasing us are slightly north of us, another reason to cover the right side.
Barclays have given us some good pressure from behind, being 0.4-3 miles straight behind us until last night. I called them on the VHF yesterday to remind them about the bank holiday in UK, suggesting that they should lower the sails and have a day off, but instead of doing that they overtook us in the evening only to see the same happening to them an hour later…
Now they have chosen to sail a slightly higher course and have disappeared into the southern horizon this morning. We are flying our light kite on a 90 degrees apparent angle. Speed is mostly pretty good and would make us optimistic about the next position report if only the 1.2kn strong counter current would ease off. There’s always something.
Knowing how local these currents have been lately it could well be that the rest of the fleet don’t see this problem at all or have even some current with them. Time will tell.
Psychologically we are clearly having the last real battle on this one. Passing the 5,000 miles on the log milestone sounded first like quite a promising sign, but then someone pointed out that we still had 2,000 miles to go, straight line! Another long version of a Round Britain and Ireland has just begun. A long way still and I believe we need to see the last 1,000 pop before we really start feeling that it’s getting near to its end.
For now it’s still one watch at a time, as Skip Novak so cleverly named his book about another Whitbread experience. There is no way one could plan any further than that. For me personally, time is moving record slowly as I am still bound to the indoor jobs only, missing all the fun and real action on deck.
I really need some fresh air and activities, otherwise I will go insane. But, for now, I just have to be patient and look after myself. Things are better but far away from normal and I need to think ahead. Hopefully Cape Town will turn everything back to normal and this painful experience can be put behind as the race goes on. Fingers crossed.
I have had a lot of time for thinking and planning, both about life and sailing on board SAIC La Jolla and other things in my life and future. There is a great number of big decisions and choices to be made, and some luck is needed as well to make everything click for me and the family. Some meetings have been set for negotiating future prospects in Cape Town, my wife is about to close a deal for a little house for the family and other contacts in Europe and even NZ have been activated when planning the next move. Ideally it’s all crystal clear before finishing the last leg of this race in July.
Straight after that it’s time to give another Six Metre World Cup a go as my favourite fleet of beautiful classic Sixes (by now 35 entries) gather in Sandhamn (Sweden) for a great event. Some slightly different sailing. I can hardly wait.
Now that we are on the final third of this long and tough leg and clearly over halfway around the world, I can already be proud of my team and the way we have got this far. We are about to leave Southern Ocean (for good, once again) and enter the ‘home waters’ of the Atlantic. I still have my original core crew of 15 on board. No one has hit anyone (and not even tried), neither has anyone informed me about plans to leave the boat in Cape Town. Hence it looks more and more likely that my primary goal for the race – completing it with the same people who started from Portsmouth – is going to happen.
It seems that only an injury or illness would stop that happening, and we refuse to let that happen. It’s a TEAM in big capital letters and that makes a huge difference for us all. Not needing to sort out arguments or personal issues on the way when life is demanding enough is a great bonus. Having a good time together and enjoying some of the life also in ports as a team is a good sign. I’m not shy of taking a huge credit for this myself. It’s the best feedback and compensation for all my efforts I could ever think about. Sailing is the easy bit.
Trucking along as fast as we can, are we nearly there?
Eero Lehtinen, skipper SAIC La Jolla