Golden Globe: The Final Month

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(May 9, 2019; Day 313) – Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen, the fifth and final placed 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 3.2 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.

Relative positions of Lehtinen and Knox-Johnston in their virtual race around the Globe.

Background:
The 2018 Golden Globe Race started for 17 skippers from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday July 1, 2018, with the inaugural solo non-stop around the world yacht race expected to take 9-10 months to complete.

The event marks the 50th anniversary of the Sunday Times Golden Globe solo non-stop round the world race in 1968-69 when rules then allowed competitors to start from ports in northern France or UK between June 1st and October 31st.

A notable twist to the 2018 Golden Globe Race format is how entrants are restricted to using the same type of yachts and equipment that were available in that first race, with the premise being to keep the race within financial reach of every dreamer.

The rules allow for one breach of the strict solo, non-stop un-assisted circumnavigation without the aid of modern electronic navigation aids regulations that make this Race unique. However, those that do move down to the Chichester Class as if, like Sir Francis Chichester in 1966-67, they have made one stop during their solo circumnavigation.

Those who breach the rules for a second time are deemed to have retired from the GGR Event and the organisers have no responsibility or obligation to them.

Source: GGR / sailingscuttlebutt

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