Golden Globe Race entrants Uku Randmaa and Istvan Kopar have both had to seek medical advice as they battle for a podium position

Health issues have plagued Golden Globe Race skippers Uku Randmaa and Istvan Kopar as the pair push themselves towards the finish line in France and a third place podium position.

Estonian entrant Randmaa, who is currently in third place in his Rustler 36, One and All, is now within 2,500 miles of Les Sables d’Olonne, but his lead over fourth placed Istvan Kopar is shrinking.

One of his running backstays supporting One and All‘s mast broke on 9 February, which lost him vital miles. Randmaa, 56, has had to climb the mast twice to set up a replacement adjustable stay, but in the process badly gashed his finger.

Health issues have hit Uku Randmaa who has an infected finger

Uku Randmaa has had to climb One and All’s mast several times to fix a broken backstay. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

This deep cut has now become infected, and he has been forced to seek medical advice from the Golden Globe Race 24-hour tele-medicine team at Medical Support Offshore (MSOS).

Randmaa, who has previously solo circumnavigated the world with stops between 2011-2012, is now treating the wound daily and doctors are monitoring the situation.

His nearest rival Istvan Kopar, who has been enjoying Tradewind conditions, has also called on the MSOS medics, and is on a course of antibiotics to treat toothache caused by a recurring abscess under one tooth and is applying antiseptic cream to his fingers to treat a fungal infection under his nails, caused by the black mould which now covers his Tradewind 35, Puffin.

‘I could not ventilate the boat in the Southern Ocean and the interior is now covered in black mould,’ Kopar told race organisers.

‘The black stuff is everywhere: on the plywood, sail bags, just everywhere. It is becoming a serious health issue, which could weaken my resistance to infections. I am washing everything down with bleach, but so far this doesn’t seem to be having much affect,’ he added.

The 65-year-old Hungarian-born American has also faced steering issues on his Tradewind 35.

Istvan Kopar wearing a harness

Istvan Kopar now wearing a harness day and night to avoid tripping over new emergency tiller and falling overboard. Credit: Jessie Martin/PPL/GGR

He told Golden Globe Race HQ that the cogs within the gearbox linking rudder and wheel pedestal are disintegrating and ‘jump’ whenever there is any load on them.

Kopar has made up a new emergency tiller from scrap materials to replace the one that broke several months ago, and has since managed to harness this to Puffin’s wind vane self-steering.

‘I’m very proud of the new tiller. I had to machine a new key from a piece of rigging, which I filed down by hand to make a perfect fit. The tiller is very long, so the big challenge now is getting around the cockpit because it gets in the way of everything,’ said Kopar.

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‘I’m keeping my safety line strapped on, because it is not easy – So much so that I’m thinking of taking up Yoga classes! The big question is whether the tiller will last for the rest of the race. There is a wooden connecting piece which could break under load and I have no more epoxy resin,’ he added.

Kopar, who previously completed a solo one-stop circumnavigation in 1990-1991 without the aid of GPS, has also solved the problem of water running down the rudder stock into the boat by cutting up his hot water bottle to act as a seal.

Fifth placed Tapio Lehtinen has been making steady progress since rounding Cape Horn on 6 February in his barnacle-covered Gaia 36, Asteria.

A chart showing Tapio Lehtinen's position relative to a large fleet of trawlers

Race organisers have warned Tapio Lehtinen of the trawlers

But, now he has calm conditions which has significantly slowed his progress north. He is also having to avoid a huge fishing fleet working the banks 100 miles east of Puerto Deseado, Argentina, directly ahead of Asteria’s, course.

Meanwhile Golden Globe Race organisers are in discussions with Les Sables d’Olonne Agglomeration to host the start and finish of the 2022 Golden Globe Race.

Race chairman, Don McIntyre, said a host port for the UK activities during the build-up to the 2022 race cannot be addressed until BREXIT negotiations have been settled.

‘Once a deal between Britain and the EU has been finalised, efforts will be made to find an enthusiastic partner to celebrate the original Race back in 1968/9,’  he added