Golden Globe Race skipper Istvan Kopar is now within 250 miles of the finish line at Les Sables d'Olonne in France but is still being plagued by steering issues

Golden Globe Race organisers have announced that Istvan Kopar is expected to finish and secure fourth place in the race at around 0900 UTC on 21 March 2019.

The American/Hungarian skipper is now within 250 miles of the Les Sables d’Olonne finish line, but is struggling with self-steering problems which have plagued much of his solo circumnavigation in his Tradewind 35, Puffin.

The latest issue is with his replacement rubber blade on his wind van self steering which is too short and is being lifted out of the water.

A few weeks ago he had to make a new tiller from a piece of rigging, which is holding up in the conditions, although Kopar is worried that a wooden connecting piece could break under load and he has no epoxy resin left.

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

Currently, the north westerly winds are helping the 65-year-old sailor to make good progress, but these will decrease overnight, reducing his progress. He is expecting to make around 100 miles in the next 24 hours.

The wind is then forecast to become very light before building again on Wednesday. It will turn north easterly though, making the last 70 miles to Les Sables d’Olonne a challenging beat to windward for Kopar, who previously completed a solo one-stop circumnavigation in 1990-1991 without the aid of GPS.

He is also still trying to cope with the black mould which has covered Puffin after he was unable to ventilate the boat in the Southern Ocean.

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Previously, he has raised concerns about the impact the mould will have on his health, and is washing everything down with bleach to try and keep it at bay.

Fifth placed Tapio Lehtinen is not expected to finish the race until mid-May.

The Finnish skipper and his barnacle infested Gaia 36 Asteria remains trapped in a challenging wind hole in the South Atlantic.

He has managed to cover less than 400 miles during the past 8 days – an average of just 50 miles.

Position of skippers at 0800 UTC 18 March 2019


1 Jean- Luc VDH (FRA) Rustler 36 Matmut
2 Mark Slats (NED) Rustler 36 Ohpen Maverick
3 Uku Randmaa (EST) Rustler 36 One and All

4 Istvan Kopar (USA) Tradewind 35 Puffin
5 Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) Gaia 36 Asteria

Chichester Class (No time limit)

Igor Zaretskiy (RUS) Endurance 35 Esmeralda (plans to restart from Australia in October 2019)


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 Métier Intérim
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 (FRA) Nicholson 32 Laaland
Susie Goodall (GBR) Rustler 36 DHL Starlight
Mark Sinclair (AUS) Lello 34 Coconut