The last Golden Globe Race skipper Tapio Lehtinen has arrived back in Les Sables d'Olonne after 322 days alone at sea

Tapio Lehtinen has said barnacle growth was the reason for his slow solo circumnavigation in the Golden Globe Race.

‘When I first saw them on the bottom before reaching Hobart, I knew my race was over,’ he commented, after finishing his circumnavigation on Sunday (19 May 2019).

He took 322 days, 8 hours and 21 minutes, 110 days behind the race winner, Jean-Luc Van den Heede, who was on the dock to greet his fellow competitor along with Loïc Lepage, who’s race was over after rigging failure left his Nicholson 32 MK X, Laaland  dismasted. Lepage is hoping to compete in the 2022 race, and is currently looking for a sponsor.

Tapio Lehtinen arriving back in Les Sables d;Olonne

Tapio Lehtinen completed his circumnavigation in 322 days. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

Lehtinen’s time is also longer than the 312 days it took Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in the original 1968-69 Golden Globe Race.

Talking to the waiting journalists, Lehtinen, said his lowest point was when he began slipping behind Istvan Kopar, who came fourth in the race.

‘I had been sailing neck-and-neck with Istvan Kopar across the Indian Ocean when suddenly he started to get away. I thought there must be something wrong – perhaps a fishing line caught in the propellor – and 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,’ he said.

Tapio Lehtinen docked at Les Sables d'Olonne after finishing the Golden Globe Race

Fellow Golden Globe Race skippers Jean-Luc Van den Heede and Loïc Lepage greet Tapio Lehtinen on his return. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

Other skippers had taken the opportunity to clean their hulls during their compulsory 24 hour stop in Tasmania, but by the time Lehtinen and his Gaia 36 Asteria reached Storm Bay the Australian authorities had put a stop to it. Careening hulls had to be undertaken beyond the 200 mile territorial waters.

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A former Commodore of the Helsingfors Segelsällskap (HSS) Yacht Club, Lehtinen had always intended to clean the hull, and had been preparing to dive during calm weather after leaving Tasmania, but his fear of sharks caused him to abandon his plans.

‘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,’ he said.

Tapio Lehtinen received the McIntyre Adventure Spirit of GGR Trophy. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

Tapio Lehtinen received the McIntyre Adventure Spirit of GGR Trophy. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

Lehtinen has spent three decades yacht racing including 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.

He is the only skipper to finish the Golden Globe Race who didn’t experience a knockdown.

The barnacle growth on the bottom of Tapio Lehtinen's Gaia 36 after the Golden Globe Race

The extent of Tapio Lehtinen’s barnacle problem is revealed. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

A report into the lessons learned from sailing small yachts in extreme conditions has been released by Sir Robin, which also looks at the five dismastings suffered by the fleet during the 2018-19 race

An investigation into the lesson learned by the skippers during the Golden Globe Race 2018-19 will be published in the Summer issue of Yachting Monthly, out on 20 June 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