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Final Nonstop Racer Finishes Golden Globe

Asteria flying a spinnaker
Tapio Lehtinen, a cheerful sailor from Helsinki, sailed his Gaia 36 Asteria to the finish of the Golden Globe Race with spinnaker set in glorious weather. You can clearly see the barnacles growing along the waterline.
© 2019 Christophe Favreau / PPL / GGR

After 322 days at sea, Tapio Lehtinen, the fifth and final nonstop finisher, brought the 2018-2019 Golden Globe Race to a close. The Finnish skipper, 61, finished the solo circumnavigation yesterday at 10:21 p.m., returning to Les Sables-d’Olonne, France. Bernard Moitessier’s famous yacht Joshua, an entry in the original Golden Globe Race accompanied Lehtinen’s Gaia 36 Asteria’s arrival. The flotilla of well-wishers included French GGR winner Jen-Luc Van Den Heede,

Joshua and Asteria
Asteria was escorted the final 10 miles by Bernard Moitessier’s famous French Golden Globe Race yacht Joshua.
© 2019 Christophe Favreau / PPL / GGR

“I have certainly got my money’s worth from the entry fee,” Tapio had joked with race organizer Don MacIntyre. “This is the best organized race I have ever taken part in, and the most selfish thing I have ever done,” he said at his press conference on Sunday. “It is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. I’m not enrolling myself just yet, but yes, absolutely, I would do it again!”

Twenty sailors from 10 countries have already signed up to compete in the next Golden Globe Race, slated to start on September 4, 2022. Two of them are Americans, Guy deBoer, 63; and Doug Dean Johnson, 53.

Media and well-wishers
At the dock, Lehtinen gripped a bottle of champagne in one hand and the hand of a fellow Golden Globe skipper in the other.
© 2019 Christophe Favreau / PPL / GGR

About low points during his 322 days at sea, Tapio said: “I had been sailing neck-and-neck with Istvan Kopar across the Indian Ocean. Suddenly he started to get away. I thought there must be something wrong — perhaps a fishing line caught in the propeller. I 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.”

Barnacles on the hull
Lehtinen shows the barnacle growth on the bottom of Asteria. He heard they are a delicacy in France selling for 80 euros per kilo.
© 2019 Christophe Favreau / PPL / GGR

Tapio readily admits to an aversion to sharks. While preparing to dive 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.”

One boat remains at least partly in the game. Relegated to the Chichester Class for having stopped in Albany, Western Australia, Russian sailor Igor Zaretskiy plans to restart his circumnavigation this fall. Twelve skippers retired from the race.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the only finisher of the original Golden Globe Race in 1969, has published a report about the lessons learned from sailing small yachts in extreme conditions, including the five dismastings suffered during the GGR. Click here to read his report.

1 Comment

  1. Tony M Spooner 4 years ago

    That’s a nasty looking crop of barnacles. I’m a bit mystified that the growth was that bad as he was at sea for less than 11 months and was always moving. Our boat is in Fiji at present and we have left it stationary for 6-9 months every year for the last 6 years in Fr. Polynesia, Tonga and Fiji. We get about 1 to 1 1/2 years out of a paint job, pretty much the cruiser average, so was wondering where he picked up such a healthy bunch.

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