(November 19, 2022; Day 77) – After 2022-23 Golden Globe Race leader Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) activated his EPIRB yesterday, 460 nautical miles SE of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, he was successfully rescued today.
GGR competitor Kirsten Neuschäfer (RSA) was the first to reach his position and took him safely aboard her Cape George 36 Minnehaha before transferring him to the bulk carrier MV Darya Gayatri.
Neuschäfer reached his position this morning at 0510 UTC, transferring Lehtinen from his life raft where he had been since 0700 UTC yesterday.
Three boats were hijacked yesterday to assist Lehtinen after he activated his emergency locating radio beacon (EPIRB) at 06:54. He then activated his personal life raft locator beacon at 08:54 UTC following the sinking of his Gaia 36 Asteria.
Abhilash Tomy (IND) aboard Bayanat, 170 nm southwest of Tapio’s last known position, was the first to receive the message sent via the YB3 device and divert his course.
MRCC Cape Town confirmed communication with Captain Naveen Kumar Mehrotra aboard the bulk carrier MV Darya Gayatri bound for Singapore, 250nm NW of Lehtinen’s position, deviating course at 12.5 knots and rendering assistance with an ETA between 08:30 and 10:00 UTC on November 19.
Later that day Neuschäfer, who was closest to Lehtinen at 105 miles, contacted the GGR crisis team after receiving the message on her YB3. In agreement with the Race Office, she broke the seal on the backup GPS and diverted her course towards her position.
Tomy was then released from the rescue to resume racing. As a 2018 GGR competitor and friend of Lehtinen, he continued to sail closely during his release and asked to be kept informed of any progress.
The GGR crisis team remained in contact with the MRCC Cape Town coordinating the rescue as well as the bulk carrier MV Darya Gayatri, Neuschäfer and Lehtinen.
Neuschäfer was regularly updated on weather information as well as Lehtinen’s position and drift by the Race Office to maximize routing for the quickest route to him. Meanwhile, Lehtinen was briefed on her progress and ETA and showed good spirits throughout the night.
“You can’t get close to the ocean, I love it, but it’s close enough,” he said. “Thank you for taking care of me.”
Showing speeds in excess of 7 knots, Neuschäfer was first on site at 05:10 UTC, conditions at the time were 20 knots SSE wind, 2-3 meter swell and daylight.
However, it was not an easy task as Lehtinen had a first visual on her yacht but she could not see the life raft in the swell. Neuschäfer would hear him on the VHF but he couldn’t hear his voice. The GGR crisis management team accommodated her on her position until they were close enough to see and hear each other in order to plan for recovery.
Neuschäfer called the GGR management team at 0805 UTC to confirm that they had retrieved Lehtinen from the life raft on Minnehaha with a salvage line. After sharing a good glass of rum, they then put him back in the raft, pulled him towards the carrier, which he then managed to board via an escape ladder.
MV Darya Gayatri, contacted by MRRC Cape Town, later confirmed that it had been on board since 0755 UTC and that they were recovering the abandoned life raft. The ship is bound for Rizhao, China, where they will drop it off. MRCC Cape Town contacted the Finnish Embassy to coordinate their arrival with GGR Race Control.
“Well done to everyone involved in the successful rescue of Tapio, which was a huge effort,” said GGR founder Don McIntyre. “It was heartwarming to feel the support of the GGR family across the globe and to experience the professionalism and dedication of MRCC South Africa, along with Captain Naveen Kumar Mehrotra and the crew of MV Darya Gayatri who uphold the greatest traditions of the sea by assisting another sailor in distress.
“Thank you also to Abhilash for turning away and staying close, and for Kirsten, your ocean experience and human spirit set you apart. Your efforts have written another chapter of life and a special bond with our dear Tapio! Welcome Tapio… your family is waiting.
Lehtinen finished fifth in the 2018 GGR, finishing after 322 days on his Gaia 36 ASTERIA.
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2022 GGR Competitors:
Abhilash Tomy (43) / India / Rustler 36
Arnaud Gaist (50) / France / BARBICAN 33 MKII (long keel version)
Elliott Smith (27) / USA / Gale 34
Ertan Beskardes (60) / United Kingdom / Rustler 36
Guy Waites (54) / UK / Tradewind 35
Ian Herbert Jones (52) / UK / Tradewind 35
Jeremy Bagshaw (59) / South Africa / OE32
Kirsten Neuschäfer (39) / South Africa / Cape George 36
Michael Guggenberger (44) / Austria / Vizcaya 36
Simon Curwen (63) / United Kingdom / Biscay 36
Edward Walentynowicz (68) / Canada / Rustler 36 (retired September 8)
Guy deBoer (66) / USA / Tashiba 36 (stranded, Sep 16)
Mark Sinclair (63) / Australia / Lello 34 (retired in Lanzarote, September 22)
Pat Lawless (66) / Ireland / Saga 36 (retired in Cape Town, Nov 9)
Damien Guillou (39 years old) / France / Rustler 36 years old (retired in Cape Town, Nov. 14)
Tapio Lehtinen (64) / Finland / Gaia 36 Masthead Sloop (wrecked off Cape Town 18 Nov)
About the 2022 Golden Globe Race
On September 4, 2022, the third edition of the Golden Globe Race set off from Les Sables d’Olonne, France. Sixteen skippers will face eight months of isolation sailing 30,000 miles across five oceans solo, non-stop and unassisted.
In 1968, as man was about to take his first steps on the moon, a mild-mannered and modest young man embarked on his own record-breaking voyage of discovery. He had entered the original Golden Globe. Nine men took the start of this first solo non-stop sailing race around the world. Only one completed. He was 29, Sir Robin Knox Johnston. History has been made. Navigating only with a sextant, paper charts and an accurate and reliable clock, Sir Robin sailed around the world.
In 2018, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this first record, the Golden Globe Race was revived. It immediately gained traction with adventurers, captivated by the spirit and the opportunity. Eighteen started with five finishers.
To embrace the original race, competitors must sail in production boats between 32 and 36 feet overall and designed before 1988 that have a full-length keel with a rudder attached to their trailing edge. Additionally, sailors have limited communications equipment and can only use sextants, paper charts, wind-up clocks, and cassette tapes for music.