"We are having our own battle, the chase for fifth has been on for the last couple of days" says the skipper of SAIC La Jolla only four miles behind Pindar

We are right outside of Cape Point. I understand from the latest position reports that old fox Duggie Gillespie and Spirit of Sark managed to get in first. I believe the closest ever finish for a Southern Ocean leg in any round the world race. Still not sure how the three others came in, but well done to all and whoever was fourth, I feel for you guys.

We are having our own battle, the chase for fifth has been on for the last couple of days but Pindar seems to hold on to their five to seven miles lead on us.

Winds are very unstable still, so early days still… The light winds have really tested our nerves, but don’t even ask what Dee Caffari thinks about them. After leading most of the way and through whole Southern Ocean more or less, she would have deserved her victory. To lose it on the last 50 miles is not human, I’m almost glad we are playing in the second division for this leg – easy to say now!

It’s been an eventful last couple of days. Lots of sail changes, some fast spinaker running, some hairy moments as things started going wrong for a few hours yesterday. First the 1.5 spinaker tripped the guy in the middle of a gybe. The promo kite went up after the tricky drop with both poles up for gybing.

Later on, the wind picked up as we were hungry for speed and expecting a drop in the breeze and so were hanging on to the promo until the wind was gusting at 25 knots. We took it down and hoisted the flanker, everything was fine until it came up and opened with a big bang, the boat jumps forward but there were only three turns on the halyard winch… Luckily Karen let go quick enough not to burn her hands too badly. I managed not to drive over the kite and after a bit of juggling and hard work the sail came back on board, slightly wet and heavier but in one piece. New quick pack on it and up again. This time it opened three quarters of the way up and three guys were winching it from there on with full load on it. After all no serious damage, some penguins were laughing on the waves and the albatrosses covered their eyes with one of the wings.

We did find a private hole in the wind just before getting closer to the coast of RSA and lost critical miles to Pindar, which we thought would already be behind us. But the idea was not to give up and the hard work by the crew continued. At least the gap we have managed to build on Barclays has been working well so far, we still have some 25 miles to spend. Last night was very light winds until early in the morning we had a couple of hours period of over 20 knots and had one reef and number two up for a while. Now it’s back to plus minus ten knots winds and progress as beating towards Cape Town is painfully slow.

Mainly I am feeling great relief that this leg is over. Even the sixth (fingers crossed) would feel like a good result, we would be in good shape for the overall standings and beat some “critical” boats on this one. Great to get home and nice to think that the toughest parts of the race are over. Who knows what the remaining legs will bring on, but I don’t care just now. It’s time to relax and think about other stuff for a while.

Thanks for following our long passage, we’ll be back on the 1 May once again!

Eero Lehtinen – Skipper of SAIC La Jolla in Global Challenge 2004/2005