Golden Globe Race skipper Uku Randmaa will have 72 hours added to his finish time after being given the time penalty for receiving weather routing via HAM Radio

Estonian Golden Globe Race skipper Uku Randmaa, who is currently in third place, has escaped disqualification and has been given a 72 hour time penalty for asking and receiving weather routing via HAM Radio.

But, unlike race winner Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, who served his 18 hours penalty for improper use of a satellite phone at sea, the 56-year-old will have the penalty added to his finish time.

Golden Globe Race orgnaisers said they took this decision as Randmaa is currently low on food aboard his Rustler 36, One and All.

A spokesman for the race said organisers were first alerted to the issue when they received a 16 minute sound recording of radio weather traffic between the skipper and a Ham radio operator yesterday (19 February 2019).

Uku Randmaa leaving the Canary Islands

Uku Randmaa is expected to reach the finish by 13 March 2019. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

The first five minutes covers a legitimate publicly available weather information, but at -9:15, Randmaa asks: “I have a question…How can I say it…I’m heading 90°. Can I be sure that I can take the wind if I’m sailing east?

Ham operator: If you go directly east you will be staying in the light area. You need to continue North… and then you will catch the westerly winds. I don’t know if I can tell you that, but I think you need to go at least to 28°North and then maybe start going Northeast.”

Randmaa: Ok, but I can’t do that…the wind is coming exactly from 35° and 25°

Ham Operator: If you go too far east…. I will have a look…I can’t give you too much information. It might make you get disqualified and I don’t want to do that. The wind is at a 45° angle…and so is the wind hole.

Randmaa: So I have to move north west again?

Ham operator: Definitely. Not too much east at the moment.

Race Chairman Don McIntyre explained: ‘This is a retro race with skippers restricted to using a sextant, paper charts and wind-up chronometers just as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston used in the first Sunday Times Golden Globe Race 50 years ago. All digital equipment is banned, including sat phones and GPS. Skippers can only communicate via Single Side Band (SSB) radios and amateur Ham radio net, which the whole world can listen in to if they wish.’

‘The GGR has attracted hundreds of Ham Radio operators around the world who are listening in and connecting with the skippers, and they play a valuable part in providing a communication network for the Race. But the skippers know that while they can ask for public weather information, weather routing – given directions on where to go – is strictly banned,’ he stressed.

Randmaa was asked for an explanation and stated to the Race Committee that he ‘did not fully appreciate that the information he received was routing’. As a result his penalty was reduced from disqualification to a 72-hour penalty.

Uku Randmaa in wet weather gear and a head torch leaving Hobart

Uku Randmaa has managed to catch a marlin but has only 60 spoons of rice, 20 packets of dried soup, 23 freeze dried meals, 15 tea bags and four spoons of sugar left. Credit: Christophe Favreau/PPL/GGR

He served part of this penalty at sea overnight, but then officially advised race HQ that he was ‘very low on food’ and requested he make direct to the finish line at Les Sables d’Olonne, with the time penalty added to his official finishing time.

This was accepted and the remainder of his penalty time – 65hrs 40 minutes – will be added to his finish time. He is expected to arrive back in the French port by 13 March.

Continues below…

Golden Globe Race organisers have used this penalisation method before. Second placed Mark Slats had 36 hours added to his finish time for a breach of satellite communication rules and receiving direct outside assistance from his shore manager Dick Koopmans.

Meanwhile fourth place Istvan Kopar is now using his emergency rudder after his makeshift tiller broke on his Tradewind 35 Puffin last Friday.

His health issues  – a tooth abscess and fungal infection of his fingernails – are continuing to cause him issues, as is the mould growing below decks.

Tapio Lehtinen sitting on the deck of his Gaia 36 during the Hobart stopover in the Golden Globe Race

Tapio Lehtinen is not expected to cross the finish line until 14 May. Credit: Jessie Martin/PPL/GGR

In consideration of these steering issues, the Race Committee has agreed that the 24-hour penalty he sustained stopping in the Cape Verde Islands to fix his self-steering will now be added to his finish time, rather than served in a penalty box at sea.

Tapio Lehtinen in fifth place is progressing up the coast of South America.

The barnacle growth on his Gaia 36 Asteria is now 30cm thick around the keel area, but the Finn is too scared of sharks to risk diving overboard to scrape the hull clean.

He is expected to reach Les Sables d’Olonne by 14 May.

Latest positions at 15:00 UTC 20 February 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