On a rainy and gray morning of the last day of October, a refreshed Matti Anttila walks into Cafe Aalto in the center of Helsinki. His beloved dog accompanies him. Ahead lies another long separation, perhaps even the dog senses it and restlessly circles around Anttila’s feet. Behind is the last night slept in his own bed before the flight to Cape Town and the impending South Sea storms on the next leg. Anttila admits to feeling a sense of nostalgia when leaving his own bed. He could hardly bring himself to do it.
Anttila exudes calmness and composure. He recounts the events of the first leg, and the return to the starting point brings a chill down his spine. Anttila orders a table full of items from the menu. A sailor who has lost six kilos has no need to hold back. Breakfast remains untouched, and the next cafe treats in Helsinki are far away. I listen attentively to the age-old stories of Spirit of Helsinki. The conversation flows slowly and steadily, narrating the story from the 1st leg towards Cape Town wave by wave. Crossing the equator, fishing hauls, and heatwaves. I interject with questions for clarification, and I can barely contain my excitement. My imagination tries to surface. However, Anttila is even more serene. I wonder if the sailing bubble has already enveloped him. Am I witnessing the famous flow state? Is he already in his thoughts on Swan’s deck amidst towering waves, trimming the sails?
Why was Spirit of Helsinki the fastest boat in the first leg?
I had anticipated that this question would spark Anttila’s enthusiasm. It did not. The rhythm of his speech remained unchanged. Victory was not a surprise to Anttila or anyone else in the crew. The boat is in good condition, the crew is in good shape, and the plan was carefully made. Despite incomplete weather information and one sail tearing to pieces, there were no major problems. The boat sailed as fast as possible, and the crew found their rhythm, though they had to search for it at times. It’s part of the first leg, which served as a good warm-up for the upcoming challenges. Anttila is not worried about the crew’s capabilities, even though a few sailors will change for the next leg. If challenges arise, Anttila deals with them in his own “clinic” in the cabin, where crew members can vent their feelings with Anttila.
The upcoming leg starting on Sunday, November 5, towards Auckland also doesn’t faze Anttila. He has 100% confidence in his team and the boat. His speech exudes certainty, and it’s easy to believe in it. Anttila and everyone else know they are not embarking on a leisurely vacation sail. Each one will do their part to safely and as fast as possible propel the boat towards Auckland. And if everything goes well, Spirit of Helsinki will arrive in Auckland in the lead, and that won’t be a big surprise to anyone anymore.
Crew Cape Town – Auckland:
Jussi Paavoseppä, Matti Anttila, Jouko Kallio, Ian Herbert-Jones, Tommi Uksila, Hilla Paananen, Veera Toivanen, Aaro Immonen, Mika Von Svetlick, Ata Kaukonen and Topi Simola.
Safe journey, Spirit of Helsinki!
The author of the blog, Jussi Evinsalo, is a Helsinki-based writer and journalist, who has the salt of the sea running through his veins thanks to the heritage of several generations. Jussi is a second-generation boating journalist, whose father (Seppo Evinsalo) was there photographing the departure of Fazer Finland in Portsmouth in 1985. Father and son, riding the same wave. Jussi has followed and will continue to follow the journey of the Spirit of Helsinki towards the starting line and eventually around the globe. The end result is the story of the Spirit of Helsinki, which is already worth reading.