Fellow Global Challenge skippers try to cheer Eero Lehtinen up and he vows a comeback

I can unfortunately not report any major progress on my own condition, haemorrhoids. I have to be patient and take the offer from the crew: they are in charge, trying to keep me out of the way and remove any extra stress or worries. Sounds quite nice, but I would rather get back now than stay in the passenger department for one day longer. It’s frustrating and life in the first class doesn’t really reach any remarkable privacy or comfort levels here, no matter how hard one tries to ‘relax’.

The great thing is that I haven’t made any Grant Dalton-type of bets about sticking a pineapple in my arse in case of so-and-so. Grant lost that bet twice when the girls beat him on a leg in last Volvo and the previous Whitbread, but I suppose he’s too perfect to have any problems like mine, so he only had to handle the pineapple… Perhaps one of my favourite teams in the next AC, Team Shosholoza of South Africa or the Scandinavian Victory Challenge could feed Grant some more pineapples the wrong way? Who knows, good luck to all of you with the preparations, it’s going to be one hell of a show in Valencia 2007!

We had some hairy moments last night as first our heater pump started leaking and then a less perfect sail change lead to our first serious sail damage in this race. David Laws, our super engineer, took the heater apart, sealed and fixed it in less than 10 hours and now we are back to nice and dry interior.

The staysail got damaged by a flying yankee No 3 clew, but luckily let go mostly along the seams and is now under a lengthy repair – remember we don’t carry sewing machines! I have been told that we had some nice position reports for a while and managed to climb a couple of spots on the leader board but now we are slightly loosing again as the wind has headed us during the day. Waypoint Bravo is a few days a way still, after that we should see more variable winds and might see bigger splits happening in the fleet. Our man in charge for now, John ‘Slippers’ Wilkinson, is not going to just follow the frontrunners, this team is hungry for more success.

My skipper colleagues from almost all other boats have sent me long emails trying to cheer me up and offering any help and support I or we might need in this situation. It only shows in a very great way what this race is all about. The ethos is not to win at any cost – it’s fair play, cameraderie, identical ‘toys’, shared challenge and a massive people experience and exercise, a huge learning curve for everyone involved. I have a fantastic crew and I have the best bunch of colleagues in this world.

Someone thinking that I might not be willing to continue this race does not have a clue. I’ll do anything and everything to be back 100 per cent and smiling, if not during this leg at least by 1 May when the fleet heads from Cape Town to Boston. And for anyone dreaming about taking over my position, I have promised to do one washing up a day on leg five if we get a podium finish on this leg…

Now it’s time to dive into my 4-fold sleeping bag again. I changed to clean boxers today, so I feel like a new man!

Eero Lehtinen, skipper SAIC La Jolla