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DAY 312: Tapio Lehtinen sighted off the Azores

DAY 312: Tapio Lehtinen sighted off the Azores

Now 1,100miles from the finish line
ETA 23-26th May

Dateline: 9/05/2019, Les Sables d’Olonne, France

Tapio Lehtinen, the 5th and final placed Finnish skipper competing in the Golden Globe Race enjoyed an unexpected rendezvous off Faial Island in the Azores yesterday with the local representative of his Windpilot self-steering sponsor.

Sailing his Gaia 36 Asteria with spinnaker set in glorious weather, Tapio was clearly enjoying his lengthy solo circumnavigation extended by barnacle growth on the hull. “It is light and peaceful and I’m making good progress towards Les Sables d’Olonne.” He quipped.

The 61 year-old from Helsinki also said he was gaining weight, despite running out of cooking gas three weeks ago. “Tesco gave me a lot of good food and I’ve now got used to cold porridge in the mornings and a cold dinner at night.” Ironically, the gas ran out just as he caught a flying fish and he has been eating smorgasbord ever since.

Overnight the winds picked up to gale force, which led to a 122 mile run during the past 24 hours – twice his average daily run since rounding Cape Horn more than 2 months ago. Tapio reported overnight: “You have to respect the North Atlantic, the SW has been howling & gusting over 50 knots through the night. Had #4 reef, 1/4 Yankee & 1/3 Staysail, but should have taken the main down as it hit the waves so badly that the vang broke. Should be able to fix it one more time with my Makita as the wind drops. Making great speed!”

The bad news is that in Tapio’s virtual race against Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s race winning time 50 years before, the gap between Asteria and Suhaili, has now extended to 678 miles, so the Finn will finish well outside Sir Robin’s 312 day benchmark circumnavigation in 1968/9.

Looking ahead, Tapio is approaching the Bay of Biscay at a good time of the year when the winds are generally stable and from a favourable direction. The Race tracker is predicting May 23, based on his average of 3.2knots since the start, but race organisers expect the barnacle growth will slow Asteria whenever conditions are light, and Tapio may not complete his quest until May 26.

GGR organisers are preparing a warm welcome for Tapio on his return.

Lessons learned from sailing small yachts in extreme conditions

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has published his long awaited Report considering the lessons learned from sailing small yachts in extreme conditions including the 5 dismastings suffered during the 2018 GGR.

Click here to download the Report

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DAY 295: Jean-Luc VDH crowned winner of the 2018 Golden Globe Race

DAY 295: Jean-Luc Van Den Heede crowned winner of the 2018 Golden Globe Race

Don’s speech on Prize Giving day

Thousands drawn to the open air presentation in Les Sables d’Olonne

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston publishes Report on lessons learned from dismastings.

2022 GGR skippers announced

Dateline: 22/04/2019, Les Sables d’Olonne, France

Don’s speech on Prize Giving day

Today is a day full of history and celebration, not only here in beautiful le Sables d’Olonne, but in Falmouth England and around the world! Our international GGR family have joined us on Facebook Live and great to see you all here joining the party! thanks for coming!!

Our great friend Sir Robin Knox Johnston 50 years ago today became an inspiration, SUHAILI became a champion and the world became a smaller place. He was the first ever solo around the world non-stop sailor. Then man went to the moon and the world began to change. Life itself became the fast lane and technology took control!

The Golden Globe Race is probably the slowest, longest, toughest, loneliest mind game on the planet! Does anything else even come close? GGR Self imposed deprivations, isolation in little boats against the great oceans, unpredictable chaotic climate change weather is extreme! Why would anyone dream of it let alone do it? and why would the people of Les sables d’Olonne ever support it?

The answer is not simple but to me it is clear. In life there are things we can control and others we cannot. Kids of the world know freedom. Every day for them is an adventure born of a vivid imagination creating beautiful dreams.

Les Sables d’Olonne dreams of a brighter future through a beautiful romance with the Oceans and human endeavor. Every entrant in the 2018 Golden Globe is a Dreamer driven to pure adventure on the Oceans. The same Human spirit that sent Sir Robin Knox Johnston around the world and man to the moon 50 years ago is alive and well in Les Sables and is the essence of the GGR story! .

295 days ago we waved 18 sailors goodbye on their Epic adventure. We thought we knew what they were about to do. We actually had no idea. Now we know. It was simply incredible! The GGR stands alone in sailing and our sailors are unique! Congratulations to you all. BRAVO!!!!

My definition of Adventure is ANY ACTIVITY WITH AN UNKNOWN OUTCOME. Tapio is still sailing and will be here soon! Igor starts again later this year and Jean Luc is no longer just the old man of the sea with a dream! He is finally a winner of the GGR!! What a hero he is along with every entrant here today!

Jane and I salute you all for what you have achieved and for supporting the GGR Adventure. To my small management team and all our partners who joined this GGR dream, and the GGR family following it now, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.

Every adventure has risk! Celebrating human endevour in the face of extreme challenge is a noble thing. Together we have all made this GGR a great success. It’s on again in 2022!

Finally to Sir Robin Knox Johnston, Yannick Moreau and all the people of les Sables d’ Olonne, thanks for taking us to your heart from the very beginning, thanks for working hard with us and BRAVO for now being part of the legend that is the Golden Globe.

Thousands drawn to the open air presentation in Les Sables d’Olonne

Exactly 50 years to the day that Sir Robin Knox-Johnston returned to Falmouth UJK after 312 days at sea to become the first man to sail solo non-stop around the Globe, 73-year old Frenchman Jean-Luc Van Den Heede was crowned winner of the second Golden Globe Race in Les Sables d’Olonne, France

And all but two of Van Den Heede‘s rivals made the pilgrimage to the Race finish port to applaud his performance in besting Sir Robin‘s original circumnavigation by 100 days aboard his Rustler 36 Matmut. 5th placed Finnish skipper Tapio Lehtinen is still more than 2,000 miles from the finish, but made a live satellite call broadcast to the thousands of spectators thronged the open-air seafront presentation. “I’m maximising on my entry fee for this race and enjoying every minute of the Race.” he joked.

Sir Robin also joined the celebrations via a live link from Falmouth to congratulate everyone, saying that their efforts have inspired so many people around the world to challenge themselves in this and other adventures.

Prize winners

  • WINNER GGR 2018 Jean-Luc VDH (FRA) Matmut 211D 23H 12M
  1. Suhaili timber perpetual model and trophy model
  2. RALF TECH Winners’ watch
  3. BOATSHED.COM £5000 winners purse
  • 2nd: Mark Slats (NED) Ohpen Maverick 216D 00H 18M
  1. Trophy model of Suhaili
  • 3rd: Uku Randmaa (EST) One and All 254D 18H 40M
  1. Trophy model of Suhaili
  2. 1st Corinthian (Unsponsored) entry trophy
  • 4th :Istvan Kopar (USA/HUN) 264D 01H 38M
  1. Last finisher by Prize Giving
  • Susie Goodall (GBR): Kay Kottee Trophy for First Woman in 2018 GGR
  • Tapio Lehtinen (FIN): McIntyre Adventure Spirit of GGR Trophy

2022 GGR

Already, 20 sailors from 10 Countries have signed up to compete in the next Golden Globe Race slated to start on 4th September 2022, and many more have expressed an interest to compete.

2022 GGR entrants to date:

  1. John Clarke (47) GBR – Nicholson 32 MKX
  2. Ian Herbert Jones (49) GBR – Tradewind 35
  3. Guy Waites (52) GBR
  4. Ertan Beskardes (57) GBR – Rustler 36
  5. Simon Curwen (60) GBR – Biscay 36
  6. Robin Davie (67) GBR – Rustler 36
  7. Confidenial GBR
  8. Arnaud Gaist (47) FRA Barbican 33 MKII (long keel version)
  9. Confidential FRA
  10. Guy deBoer (63) USA
  11. Doug Dean JOHNSON (53) USA – Rustler 36
  12. Matthew Wright (49) AUS
  13. Michael Date (57) AUS Aries 32
  14. Confidenial AUS
  15. Michael Guggenberger (41) AUT – Endurance 35
  16. Gaurav Shinde (32) CAN
  17. Pat Lawless (62) IRE Saga 36
  18. Guido Cantini (50) ITA Vancouver 34
  19. Confidenial NZL – Rustler 36
  20. Confidenial NOR

Total: 10 Country, 7 British, 3 Australian, 2 France, 2 American, 1 Austria, 1 Canada, 1 Irish, 1 Italy, 1 New Zealand, 1 Norway. 12 with Boats already.

Lessons learned from sailing small yachts in extreme conditions

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston also published his long awaited Report considering the tessons learned from sailing small yachts in extreme conditions including the 5 dismastings suffered during the 2018 GGR.

Click here to download the Report

The post DAY 295: Jean-Luc VDH crowned winner of the 2018 Golden Globe Race appeared first on Golden Globe Race.

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DAY 284: Tapio Equator – 2018 Prize Giving – 2022 Filling up!

DAY 284: Golden Globe Race Update

Tapio Lehtinen crosses the Equator
GGR Prize-giving timetable 19-22nd April

Dateline: 11/04/2019 Les Sables d’Olonne, France

As Tapio Lehtinen, the last of the Golden Globe race skippers, crossed the Equator on Tuesday to start the last part of his solo circumnavigation back to Les Sables d’Olonne, plans are now well advanced for the GGR prize-giving celebrations in the Vendee port over the Easter Weekend 19 – 22nd April.

The Finnish skipper who has been slowed by increasing barnacle growth on his Gaia 36 Asteria since crossing the Indian Ocean last October will miss the party – he is not expected to reach the finish line until late May at the earliest – but will join the other skippers via a satellite phone link.

Despite his extended time at sea, Tapio has plenty of food on board and has retained his sense of humour. On April 1, The Finn alerted Race HQ that he had met up with a boatload of girls in mid-Atlantic who, braving shark attacks, had dived over to rid Asteria of her barnacle growth. His Facebook post caught more than a few, some questioning whether this was outside assistance.

All other skippers, bar Australian Kevin Farebrother, currently climbing Mt Everest for the fourth time, will be attending the prize-giving. Most will be available for pre-booked one-to-one media interviews over the Weekend.

So too will 8 of the 2022 GGR Race entrants all keen to learn what they can from the 2018 Race skippers. The Suhaili Class for prescribed long keeled yachts between 32-36ft is already fully subscribed with 20 entrants representing 10 Countries, 12 of which already have boats. Three hail from Australia, two from France, 7 from the UK and two from the USA, together with one each from Austria, Canada, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand and Norway. A wait list is now open to accept provisional entrants and these skippers will be announced at the GGR Press Conference on Monday 22nd April.

There is also strong interest in the 10 places available in the new Joshua Class racing 40ft purpose-built steel replicas of Bernard Moitessier’s classic yacht. The first of these is expected to be launched this winter when entries for this class will open. For those keen to have a test sail, The French Maritime Museum based in La Rochelle will have Moitessier’s original Joshua in Les Sables d’Olonne for the Easter weekend offering the opportunity to sail on her.

Lessons learned from sailing in extreme conditions during the Golden Globe Race

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s independent report on lessons gained from handling small yachts in survival conditions during the GGR will also be published at the GGR Press Conference on April 22 with a live link and question/answer session with GGR skippers and Sir Robin in Falmouth, where the original Golden Globe Race skipper will be celebrating his victorious return to the Cornish port that day 50 years ago. The Press Conference and Sir Robin’s Q&A session will be broadcast live on Facebook.

GGR Prize giving programme 19 – 22nd April

Friday 19th and Saturday 20th – GGR Race HQ

Media check-in 09:00-17:00


One-to-One pre-booked interview opportunities with 2018 GGR skippers
Sunday 21st April

0900-1200: Closed briefing session with 2022 GGR Entrants

One-to-One pre-booked interview opportunities with 2018 GGR skippers

1500-1700: Closed de-briefing session with 2018 GGR Entrants

One-to-One pre-booked interview opportunities with 2022 GGR skippers


Monday 22nd April – GGR Media Centre

0900-1045: One-to-One pre-booked interview opportunities with 2018/2022 GGR skippers

1100-1200: GGR 2018 PRESS CONFERENCE – GGR Media Centre

Presenting 2018 Race Skippers and 2022 Race Entrants to-date.

2022 Race announcement

Live link with Tapio Lehtinen

12:00-1230: Live link with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston presenting his independent report on lessons learned from handling small boats in extreme conditions during the 2018 GGR.

1530 – 1645: GGR Prize Giving at the Atlantic Casino

1645: Live concert with Jean-Luc Van Den Heede and his band

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DAY 263: Istvan Kopar secures 4th place in the Golden Globe Race

DAY 263: Istvan Kopar secures 4th place in the Golden Globe Race

Dateline: 21/3/2019 Les Sables d’Olonne, France

American Hungarian solo yachtsman Istvan Kopar finally reached the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne, France at 13:58 UTC today to take 4th place in the 2018 Golden Globe Race.

“This is the happiest day of my life…And this [Les Sables d’Olonne] is the best place to be…The Capital of offshore sailing.” He said on arrival at the dock.

The 66-year old yachtsman from Delray Beach, Florida, who suffered continuing steering problems almost from Day 1, overcame setback after setback throughout the race. The water tanks in his Tradewind 35 yacht Puffin became contaminated soon after he sailed down into the Southern Ocean, and by Cape Horn, the black mould growing inside the boat became so bad that his health began to suffer.

And the problems continued right to the end. He happened to arrive back in the Bay of Biscay shortly after the container ship Great American had caught fire and sunk, 180 miles due west of Les Sables d’Olonne, generating large tracks of oil and chemical pollution on the surface being blown onshore. And if that was not enough, Istvan also had to pick his way through a web of ship’s containers floating on or near the surface. On Tuesday, he was down to his last litre of drinking water but dared not process any sea water through his emergency desalinator, fearing the pollution would clog up the unit’s membrane.

His steering problems centred around Puffin’s wind vane self steering which Istvan admits he had failed to test adequately during sailing trials before the race start on July 1st. He first reported the problem on July 10, but continued for another 7 days before announcing that he was exhausted by lack of sleep and would stop in the Cape Verde Islands to replace the unit. He pulled into Sao Vincente on July 19 and joined the Chichester Class for making one stop, only to find that the replacement wind vane would take a further week to arrive.

A night’s reflection at anchor led Kopar to realise that his Windpilot wind vane had been wrongly assembled, and once this had been corrected, and knowing that he had not stepped ashore or gained any outside assistance, he applied to return to the GGR classification. This was granted, but the GGR Committee awarded him a 6 hour penalty for going into port and a further 18 hours for using his emergency satellite phone.

Once round the Cape of Good Hope, Istvan went to the aid of Swedish solo skipper Kjell Litwin, who was running short of water. Istvan handed across some of his vital supplies on September 27, not knowing that his own water tanks had become polluted which put pressure on him to collect rain water at every opportunity. He was given an 6-hour credit for the time lost.

On November 20, a navigation error led him into the Southern Ocean no-go zone, which led to another 6 hour 40 minute penalty – 24 hours 40 mins in total. Kopar should have served this in a ‘penalty box’ at sea, but because of continued issues with steering and health problems he faced from all the mould growing inside the boat, the GGR Committee ruled that this additional time would be added at the finish.

Rounding Cape Horn on January 1st, Istvan used this unique opportunity to scatter his Father’s ashes within site of the Cape. “That is one of my best memories” he said.

His biggest reward was, he says “Solving all the problems en-route.”

The self-steering issues led to an overload on the gearbox within Puffin’s pedestal wheel, which he had to strip down and refashion broken cogs from what he had onboard. He tried to circumvent the wheel steering altogether by fitting an emergency tiller, but that too broke and the lash-up he made to strengthen it used up the last of his epoxy resin supplies.

Kopar said: “It was torture for me. My self steering failed almost from Day 1. The boat itself did not have a problem. It was I who had the problems. Luck was just not with me. I think I’m done with sailing now and will take up gardening instead” he joked.

That was today…Tomorrow it may be a very different story!

Kopar’s return leaves just one more skipper at sea – Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen and his Gaia 36 Asteria, still 4,227 miles from the finish. He is not expected to finish before mid-May.

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MEDIA ALERT: Istvan Kopar due to reach Les Sables d’Olonne finish at 09:00 UTC on 21st March

MEDIA ALERT: Istvan Kopar due to reach Les Sables d’Olonne finish at 09:00 UTC on 21st March

Dateline: 18/3/2019 Les Sables d’Olonne, France

Day 260: At 04:00 UTC today, American/Hungarian Istvan Kopar and his Tradewind 35 yacht Puffin was within 250 miles of the finish line and expected to reach Les Sables d’Olonne around 09:00 UTC on Thursday 21st March.

Kopar was making 5.1knots, having managed to cover 120 miles during the previous 24 hours – a remarkable performance given the steering problems that have plagued his solo circumnavigation almost from the start of the Golden Globe Race last July. And he is still having issues, reporting yesterday that his replacement rudder blade on his wind vane self steering is too short and being lifted out of the water as his yacht traverses the waves.

The latest weather forecast suggests that the current north westerly winds will decrease overnight slowing progress to around 100 miles during the next 24 hours. Then on Tuesday the wind is predicted to become very light, suggesting a 70 mile day before building again on Wednesday but turning north easterly to turn the last 70 miles into a challenging beat to windward.

For regular updates on Istvan’s progress, visit

5th placed Finnish sailor Tapio Lehtinen and his barnacle infested Gaia 36 Asteria remains trapped in a challenging wind hole in the South Atlantic. He has managed to cover less than 400 miles during the past 8 days – an average of just 50 miles. At this rate, he will not finish before mid-May, but reports that all is well onboard.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston celebrates his 80th birthday.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to complete a solo non-stop circumnavigation 50 years ago, celebrated his 80th birthday yesterday. The BBC marked the occasion with a highly entertaining hour-long documentary on BBC Radio 4 about his record-setting circumnavigation in the 1968/9 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, narrated by Sir Robin . You can listen to it here:

Save the Date – GGR Prizegiving programme – April 22

The 2018 GGR prize giving in Les Sables d’Olonne is set for April 22 – the day that Sir Robin Knox-Johnston completed the first solo non-stop circumnavigation 50 years before.

The Easter Monday celebrations will include a Press Conference and one-to-one interview opportunities with the 2018 GGR skippers, an announcement and introduction to skippers entering the next GGR in 2022, and publication of Sir Robin Knox-Johnston’s eagerly awaited independent report on lessons learned in heavy weather and survival techniques employed by skippers during the 2018 Race.

There will also be opportunities to sail aboard Bernard Moitessier’s famous 1968/9 Golden Globe Race yacht Joshua throughout the weekend from Port Olona on 20/21/22 April, organized by the Friends of the Maritime Museum of La Rochelle.

So why not plan to celebrate the Easter Weekend in Les Sables d’Olonne!

The post MEDIA ALERT: Istvan Kopar due to reach Les Sables d’Olonne finish at 09:00 UTC on 21st March appeared first on Golden Globe Race.

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