The departure from Helsinki was unforgettable.
This is it! A day we have been waiting for. A day that has been three years away, two years away, next year, next month…
Hundreds of people – family, friends, fellow sailors, fans – have come to meet us at the HSS yacht club and give us a farewell hug. Jokke Mykkänen, our very special friend and honorary team member, once again spoiled us with his delicious food. Interviews, photos, speeches, and music performances were made. Having 10,000 followers on Facebook is fantastic, but seeing all these people here makes me speechless.
At exactly 18:00, we cast off, fire our cannon and make a salute to the HSS flag. We hoist our sails and make one more sail-by in the Helsinki market square – which has become our trade mark over the last couple of years.
Once we got past the Harmaja lighthouse and headed out to the open sea, even the most persistent spectators waved their last goodbyes and returned to Helsinki. With the very last boat, also some of our crew members returned, as they still had to work for a few days. Also, Tapio jumped off as he would be a panellist in the SuomiAreena the next day. We would meet them all in Stockholm in a couple of days.
I was now the skipper, with all the responsibility but also with the privilege of not participating in the watches. As the route was clear – Go West! – and the crew was more than capable of taking care of things, I told them I would sleep for a while. The last 48 hours had been intensive, and I had slept only a couple of hours as I was packing, not only for this trip – we only have one 60-litre bag each – but I also packed all my possessions into storage as I gave away my apartment, because I’d be away almost a year. So I went into my bunk around 9 p.m. I looked at the clock at 10 and wondered why couldn’t I sleep despite being so tired. I also wondered how the sun was shining. In Finland, we have the midnight sun, but this was something else. After a while, I realised it was 10 a.m. I had slept for 13 hours without moving a finger. My dear teammates had occasionally come down to see if I was still breathing.
It’s said that leaders should make themselves unnecessary. I guess I did a pretty good job during the first part of our journey around the globe.