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Golden Globe Race, Day 312: Tapio Lehtinen sighted off the Azores

by Barry Pickthall, Golden Globe Race 9 May 15:04 BST 9 May 2019
Tapio Lehtinen and his Gaia 36 Asteria photographed 4 miles west of Faial Island in the Azores - Golden Globe Race, Day 312 © Peter Foerthmann / Windpilot and Les Gallagher / Fishpics / PPL

Tapio Lehtinen, the fifth 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 two months ago. Tapio reported overnight: "You have to respect the North Atlantic, the SW has been howling and gusting over 50 knots through the night. Had #4 reef, 1/4 Yankee and 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 3.2 knots 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. To help with planning, Media, planning to cover his arrival should email with their requirements.

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 five dismastings suffered during the 2018 GGR.

Click here to download the Report

Chichester Class

1. Igor Zaretskiy (RUS) Endurance 35 Esmeralda - stopped in Albany, W Australia. Expected to restart in October/November

Retired

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

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