Eero Lehtinen, Global Challenge skipper aboard SAIC, sent his latest report from the Southern Ocean

The situation for distressed Global Challenge skipper Eero Lehtinen see previous news story here is starting to improve. Here’s his latest report from SIAC in the Southern Ocean.

So, waypoint Bravo is behind, sun is shining and we had the kite up for about 10 hours this morning. As a matter of fact two kites, since we started with 1.5oz last night and just dropped the 0.75oz after gybing first to starboard earlier this morning.

The expected high pressure which approached from west has worked almost exactly according to our grib files, except for the maddening fact that it didn’t bother to slow down the first five boats at all. Instead it put the clamps on us and luckily the boats behind us, allowing the rich to become richer again. I sincerely hope the next high, due later tomorrow and the day after, will have the leaders’ names on it. Otherwise we will be middle class for this leg and that’s not what we are aiming at. The crew is very switched on, they have been so from the very first hours of the leg for soon four weeks. Through all kinds of conditions, day after day. They are an amazing bunch.

My own condition is improving. We just had one of our two weekly crew meetings, on deck in sunshine, and I told them that I am getting back. If it was one step ahead and two backwards before, it’s now two ahead and only one back. However, at the same time I announced my decision to let my number two, John Wilkinson, to stay in charge until the end of the leg. That will include mooring the boat in Waterfront as I will most likely have my attention on reuniting with my family after more than a six months of a break. Hence I will now concentrate in my recovery and will be available to any support and help needed in tactics or other issues.

I feel these guys have now been running the show for the toughest part of the leg and have done it so well, that it would be only distracting to change the set-up for only the last two weeks or so. I can hopefully be back in full strength again for leg five, and then it’s back to normal. That is not so different from now anyway as we work together with John in a very balanced way, have always done it since last summer’s qualifying sail already. And needless to say, as I fully trust John as my stand-in, I still carry full responsibility of the boat, crew and everything we do out here. It’s all under control, very safe and hopefully very fast soon again.

I was having a look at the leader board this morning and it put a strange smile onto my face. The last team to finish in Sydney are now the sharing leaders, have been for most of the leg. Absolutely fantastic going by Dee and her team on Imagine it. Done. The three podium boats in Sydney are now 6th, 8th and 10th. The overall leader after three legs is 8th at the moment and us having been fifth overall in Sydney and now sixth out here, we only have two out of the overall top four boats in front of us. Hence, as John said the other day, even this would be a satisfactory finishing order for us. But I know, they want more and the crew want to see me and John doing dishes every day on our way to Boston. Funny enough, I hope so too.

I am not superstitious at all, but as we now have a kind of a tripple-D leader troika (Duggie, Dee and David) on this leg, and it also is the fourth leg (D being the fourth alphabet in order), my logic tells me that leg five must then be an E leg… For the rest of the race it’s more open as we don’t have any Franks or Gordons among the skippers! But first we finish this one and if you didn’t notice, it’s far from over yet.

Regards from Sunny Southern Ocean,

Eero – SAIC La Jolla