Tapio Lehtinen, the 5th and final placed Finnish skipper competing in the Golden Globe Race crossed the finish line at 20:21 hours today accompanied by Bernard Moitessier's famous yacht Joshua and a flottila of excited wellwishers, including French race winner Jean-Luc Van Den Heede.
Sailing his Gaia 36 Asteria with spinnaker set in glorious weather, Tapio has clearly enjoyed his lengthy solo circumnavigation extended by barnacle growth on the hull.
Barnacle growth was the root cause of Lehtinen's slow solo circumnavigation but the 110 day difference between his and Race winner Jean-Luc Van Den Heede's time was definitely enjoyable.
“I have certainly got my money's worth from the entry fee,” Tapio had joked with Race organiser Don MacIntyre before his return to Les Sables d'Olonne at 20:21hrs on Sunday. “This is the best organised race I have ever taken part in… And the most selfish thing I have ever done… It is the fulfilment of a life-long dream… I'm not enrolling myself just yet, but yes, absolutely, I would do it again!” the 61 year old from Helsinki said at his press conference today.
“Yet asked what was the lowest moment in the race, the answer appeared to cover several months. “I had been sailing neck-and-neck with Istvan Kopar across the Indian Ocean when suddenly he started to get away. I thought there must be something wrong – perhaps a fishing line caught in the propellor – and dived overside during a calm spell before the Hobart film drop to investigate. It was not a rope or net, but barnacles growing all over the hull. When I first saw them on the bottom, I knew my race was over.”
Other skippers had taken the opportunity to clean their hulls during their compulsorary 24 hour stop in Tasmania, but by the time Tapio and his Gaia 36 Asteria reached Storm Bay Australian authorities had put a stop to it. Careening hulls had to be undertaken beyond the 200 mile territorial waters.
Tapio readily admits to an aversion to sharks, so when he prepared to dive overside during a calm period after leaving Tasmania he recalled “I was tying my improvised boarding ladder to the boat in preparation of diving overboard and spotted this huge shark swim alongside the boat – and that was the worst day of my life.”
Tapio was accompanied the last 10 miles to the finish by Bernard Moitessier's famous yacht JOSHUA a French entry in the original Golden Globe Race 50 years before. “I sense the smell of Tahiti in Les Sables” Tapio shouted across in reference to Moitessier's decision to foresake the success of finishing by continuing towards a second circumnavigation 'to save my soul' as he put it, before finally dropping anchor off the Pacific island.
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
Skipper Distance to finish VMG during last 24 hours Elapsed time
1 Jean-Luc VDH (FRA) Rustler 36 Matmut Finished 0 knots 211d 23h 12m 19s
2 Mark Slats (NED) Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick Finished 0 knots 216d 00h 18m 30s Inc. 36h penalty
3 Uku Randmaa (East) Rustler 36 One and All Finished 0 knots 254d 18h 40m 00s Inc. 72h penalty
4 Istvan Kopar (USA) Tradewind 35 Puffin Finished 0 knots 264d 1h 38m 30s Inc. 24h 40m accumulative penalty
5 Robin Knox-Johnston (GBR) Suhaili virtual race position in 1969 finished 0 knots
5 Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Gaia 36 Asteria finished 0. knots 322d 08h 21m
1. Igor Zaretskiy (RUS) Endurance 35 Esmeralda – stopped in Albany, W Australia. Expected to restart in October/November
Ertan Beskardes (GBR) Rustler 36 Lazy Otter
Kevin Farebrother (AUS) Tradewind 35 Sagarmatha
Nabil Amra (PAL) Biscay 36 Liberty II
Philippe Péché (FRA) Rustler 36 PRB
Antoine Cousot (FRA) Biscay 36 Occupation Interim
Are Wiig (NOR) OE32 Olleanna
Abhilash Tomy (IND) Suhaili replica Thuriya
Gregor McGuckin (IRE) Biscay 36 Hanley Energy Endurance
Francesco Cappelletti (ITA) Endurance 35 007
Loïc Lepage (ENG) Nicholson 32 Laaland
Susie Goodall(GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight
Sinclair Mark (AUS) Lello 34 Coconut