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Wait of a Leg Sailor – Jyrki Korhonen

The second leg of the Ocean Globe Race has been underway for just over two weeks. The first leg’s champagne sailing in the sunshine is behind, and now it’s hard work pushing towards Auckland. The boat and its crew are put to the real test on this demanding stage. But what is going through the mind of the leg sailor who is still waiting for his turn on the home sofa?

On a dark November Monday evening (20.11.23), the northernmost member of the Spirit of Helsinki crew, Jyrki Korhonen, answers the phone in his relaxed Kämpelä style. The snow is on the ground, and winter has come to stay in the outskirts of the northern capital. Although getting company matters sorted out before leaving for Auckland in January requires effort, Jyrki’s mind is firmly on the boat’s deck with the rest of the crew.

“It’s sometimes excruciating to follow the action on the phone, the urge to be involved is strong,” Jyrki sums up with a laugh.

Jyrki was in Southampton five days before departure, getting the boat into final shape with the rest of the crew. There was a lot to do, and the boat’s first loading required day-long hours from morning to night. The atmosphere at the docks and the event center was great. Sailors of all nationalities were part of the same crowd. Everyone’s focus was at sea, and it was easy to strike up a conversation with anyone. The escort boat had a wonderful atmosphere. Also present were Jukka Hopearuoho, Antero “Ata” Kaukonen, Johanna Bruun, and Tapani Holmén. Then came the departure and with it a tangible melancholy. His own team disappeared over the horizon and they would meet again only in Auckland next year.

The victory of the first leg did not come as a big surprise to Jyrki. It heightened the bubbly feeling of anticipation even more. Quick contacts with the team brought a smile to his face, but the crew’s Teams meetings were already focused on the upcoming challenges. As the race has progressed, Jyrki’s Leg 3 is getting closer and closer. But not quickly enough. He should already be there. Patience is a virtue, but sometimes it’s hard to show it. The equipment list was printed out the previous weekend, and packing had begun. At least mentally. From the conversation, it’s easy to hear that Jyrki would now gladly move to the moving boat if Skipper Paavoseppä would ask “Are you coming to the rigging?”

Jyrki follows the current leg closely every day but realizes at the same time that he cannot influence things at sea. The rankings change, and the boat progresses. The most important thing is that the boat and crew stay intact and arrive as fast as possible.

“I have full 100% confidence that they will make the best decisions on the boat in every situation,” Jyrki states.

Jyrki will move to Auckland at the beginning of January. There will be plenty of time to settle in and maintain the boat before the third leg. At the same time, other new sailors will step onto the boat, some of whom Jyrki has also sailed with before. This brings a good vibe, and jumping into the middle of the race doesn’t make him nervous. Jyrki knows he will bring a fair spirit of action and genuine joy, spiced up with a hearty humor. But before that, it’s time for the family and Christmas holidays in the Canary Islands. After that, the mental compass points towards Cape Horn.

But will your journey end in Punta del Este?

A somewhat evasive answer indicates that the final stamp on the matter has not been put in place. The option exists, and it may be that the allure of the final stretch becomes too strong. And of course, it’s also true that the flight from Southampton to Oulu is shorter than from Punta del Este.

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.

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