Successful rescue in Golden Globe Race

Published on November 19th, 2022

(November 19, 2022; Day 77) – After 2022-23 Golden Globe Race front-runner Tapio Lehtinen (FIN) activated his EPIRB yesterday, 460 nautical miles SE from Port Elizabeth, in South Africa, he was successfully rescued today.

GGR competitor Kirsten Neuschäfer (RSA) was first to reach his position, and took him safely aboard her Cape George 36 Minnehaha before transferring him onto the Bulk Carrier M.V. Darya Gayatri.

Neuschäfer reached his position this morning at 0510 UTC, transferring Lehtinen from his liferaft where he had been since 0700 UTC yesterday.

Three boats were diverted yesterday to assist Lehtinen after he activated his Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) at 0654. He then activated his Liferaft Personal Locator Beacon at 0854 UTC following the sinking of his Gaia 36 Asteria.

Abhilash Tomy (IND) aboard Bayanat, 170 nm SW of Tapio’s last known position, was the first to receive the message sent through the YB3 device and divert his route.

MRCC Cape Town confirmed communication with Captain Naveen Kumar Mehrotra onboard the bulk carrier M.V. Darya Gayatri bound to Singapore, 250 nm NW of Lehtinen’s position, diverting course at 12.5 knots and rendering assistance with an ETA between 0830 and 1000 UTC on November 19.

Later in the day, Neuschäfer, who was the closest to Lehtinen at 105 miles, contacted the GGR Crisis Team after receiving the message on her YB3. In accordance with the Race Office, she broke the seal of the emergency GPS and diverted her course towards his position.

Tomy was then released from the rescue to resume racing. As a fellow competitor in the GGR 2018 and friend of Lehtinen, he kept sailing close while released and asked to be updated on any progress.

The GGR crisis team kept contact with the MRCC Cape Town coordinating the rescue as well as the bulk carrier M.V. Darya Gayatri, Neuschäfer, and Lehtinen.

Neuschäfer was regularly updated on weather information as well as Lehtinen’s position and drift by the Race Office in order to maximize routing for the fastest route to him. Meanwhile, Lehtinen was updated on her progress and ETA and showed good spirit throughout the night.

“You can’t get any closer to the ocean, I love it but this is close enough,” he said. “Thanks for looking after of me.”

Posting speeds above 7 knots, Neuschäfer was the first on site at 0510 UTC, the conditions at the time were 20 knots of SSE wind, 2 to 3 metre swell and daylight.

However, it was not an easy task as Lehtinen had an early visual on her yacht but she could not see the liferaft in the swell. Neuschäfer would hear him on the VHF but he could not hear her voice. The GGR Crisis Management Team homed her onto his position until they were close enough to see and hear each other to plan for recovery.

Neuschäfer called the GGR Management team at 0805 UTC to confirm that she had retrieved Lehtinen from the liferaft onto Minnehaha with a retrieving line. After sharing a good glass of rum, they then proceeded to put him back in the raft, pulled it towards the carrier, which he then successfully boarded via a rescue ladder.

M.V. Darya Gayatri, contacted by MRRC Cape Town, later confirmed that he had been onboard since 0755 UTC and that they were retrieving the abandoned liferaft. The vessel is bound for Rizhao, China where they will drop him off. MRCC Cape Town is contacting the Finnish Embassy to coordinate his arrival together with the GGR Race Control.

“Bravo to all involved with the successful rescue of Tapio which was a huge effort,” said GGR Founder Don McIntyre. “It was comforting to feel the support from the GGR family around the world and experience the professionalism and dedication of MRCC South Africa, as well as Capt. Naveen Kumar Mehrotra, and the crew of the M.V. Darya Gayatri who are upholding the greatest traditions of the sea by assisting a fellow mariner in distress.

“Thanks also to Abhilash for diverting and staying close by, and for Kirsten your ocean experience and human spirit sets you apart. Your efforts have written another chapter in life and a special bond with our dear Tapio! Welcome back Tapio…your family is waiting.”

Lehtinen was 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 Force 34
Ertan Beskardes (60) / UK / 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 / Biscay 36
Simon Curwen (63) / UK / Biscay 36

Retired
Edward Walentynowicz (68) / Canada / Rustler 36 (dropped out, Sept. 8)
Guy deBoer (66) / USA / Tashiba 36 (ran aground, Sept. 16)
Mark Sinclair (63) / Australia / Lello 34 (retired in Lanzarote, Sept. 22)
Pat Lawless (66) / Ireland / Saga 36 (retired in Cape Town, Nov. 9)
Damien Guillou (39) / France / Rustler 36 (retired in Cape Town, Nov. 14)
Tapio Lehtinen (64) / Finland / Gaia 36 Masthead sloop (sank off Cape Town, Nov. 18)

About the 2022 Golden Globe Race
On September 4, 2022, the third edition of the Golden Globe Race started 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, while man was preparing to take his first steps on the moon, a mild mannered and modest young man was setting out on his own record breaking voyage of discovery. He had entered the original Golden Globe. Nine men started that first solo non-stop sailing race around the World. Only one finished. He was 29 year old Sir Robin Knox Johnston. History was made. Navigating only with a sextant, paper charts and an accurate and reliable time piece, Sir Robin navigated around the world.

In 2018, to celebrate 50 years since that first record breaking achievement, the Golden Globe Race was resurrected. It instantly gained traction with adventurers, captivated by the spirit and 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 prior to 1988 that have a full-length keel with rudder attached to their trailing edge. Additionally, sailors have limited communication equipment and can use only sextants, paper charts, wind up clocks, and cassette tapes for music.

Source: GGR

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