Tapio Lehtinen, the last Golden Globe Race skipper still sailing, has finally crossed the equator as he continues his circumnavigation back to France

He is the last Golden Globe Race skipper still sailing, but Tapio Lehtinen is slowly getting towards the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne in France.

The 61 year old Helsinki sailor crossed the equator in his Gaia 36 Masthead sloop, Asteria on the 9 April 2019.

Tapio Lehtinen has now crossed the equator in the Golden Globe Race 2018

Tapio Lehtinen has raced yachts for three decades. Credit:Jessie Martin/PPL/GGR

He told race organisers: ‘Finally in the steady (hopefully) NE Trades. Asteria is ploughing to NW, will take a few weeks to get to the westerlies which will carry us to Les Sables D’Olonne. Feels great to be moving towards cooler climes & home.’

The hull of the Sparkman & Stephens yacht has been plagued by barnacle growth since the Indian Ocean which has considerably hampered his progress throughout the race. He had admitted to being too scared of sharks to risk entering the water to clean them off.

Luckily, Lehtinen, who is a former Commodore of the Helsingfors Segelsällskap (HSS) Yacht Club, has plenty of food left aboard, not suffering the same fate as third placed skipper Uku Randmaa who endured an almost starvation diet to make his food last.

A lifelong sailor, Lehtinen spent three decades yacht racing, although this must surely be his longest race yet. He competed in the 1981/2 Whitbread Round the World Race aboard Skopbank of Finland, the 1985 Two handed Round Britain and Ireland Race, the 2-STAR transatlantic race 1986, the Azores and Back race in 1987 and the 2014 Bermuda Race.

Speaking prior to the race start, he said: ‘I am participating because I love sailing, I enjoy being at sea. I accept the challenges, but I am not a risk taker. I take pride in preparing well and sailing in a seamanlike way. I’m competitive, but realise that in order to do well in this race, I first have to finish.’

Continues below…

Lehtinen is not expected to reach the finish line until late May at the earliest which will mean he will miss the Golden Globe Race prize giving at Les Sables d’Olonne over the Easter weekend.

Instead, he will  join the other skippers via a satellite phone link.

Out of the 18 skippers who took part in the Golden Globe Race just four have completed the race, including the winner, French skipper Jean-Luc van den Heede.

Position of skippers at 1500 UTC 11 April 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