With 130 nautical miles to go to the finish line of the Vendée Globe, the 25th and final skipper Ari Huusela has made what should be his final tack of the race and the 58 year old Finnish skipper is this afternoon concentrating on tidying his boat and having everything in perfect shape for his arrival across the finish line which should be – he believes – around 0900hrs UTC Friday morning, 1000hrs local time.
The light winds he has had today have been ideal for him to neatly fold away the sails he won’t need now and he says it is important to him to everything in good order and in place for his finish. And staying busy is also good for his nerves and emotions.
“It is good now to be able to work and clean stuff and tidy I only have five or six knots right now so I am doing all I can.” Ari said this afternoon. After my tack I will be heading towards Les Sables d’Olonne and that feels good. But it is very slow progress. The wind is from the ENE, 060 degrees. I met my first fishing boat and fishing nets and luckily it was in daylight so it was easy to avoid. I hope it will stay a bit calm for a while but the wind will pick up in the night so it will be 20kts in the morning, six to eight hours upwind. I should be able to make it on the one tack so it will be fine to enjoy.” He said this afternoon,
“I have packed some sails, the Code Zero and Code 5, and packed them properly and stacked them on the port side. I have been getting out my Vendée Globe flags and dodgers and so I am setting them up to put them up in good time now when the conditions are easy. I have all the hatches open and am drying out everything also.”
It is nice to stay busy?
“Yes I like the boat to look good and smell good for its first meeting back with other people after so long at sea.”
“It is really emotional now. The emotions keep surfacing. I could not really sleep last night. I kept remembering all the things we have been through on this project to get here. Always when you have time you start to think of all the pleasure and the pain, the good moments and the bad on the way to be here, struggling days before the start. All the races before – the collision with Sébastien Destremau in the Route du Rhum – and doing the Transat Jacques Vabre with Mikey Ferguson, struggling with a mainsail which was falling to pieces, just trying to make the finish line, all these things you look back at, it has been such a long path to get here with big emotions. But for sure these things all make you stronger to be here now.”