Abandon boat: Sunk in five minutes

Published on November 21st, 2022

When 2022-23 Golden Globe Race front-runner Tapio Lehtinen was woken by a loud noise, he had five minutes to escape his sinking boat. Translated from Finnish publication Ilta-Sanomat, he shares some details from a cargo ship en route to China:

Lehtinen, 64, managed to lower the life raft into the water, and thanks to the good weather, he was able to calmly wait for the rescuers, who arrived a day later.

He still can’t believe that after careful preparation, the Asteria boat sank in five minutes.

“During those five minutes, the thought that this could not be possible was running through the back of my head. I was able to react to the situation without panicking and without getting nervous, but I also had a bit of a problem with me because the weather was so good.”

After reaching the life raft, Lehtinen watched his beloved boat sink below the surface of the water. After two days since the accident, the cause remains a mystery to him. Asteria was completely rebuilt five years ago before the previous round-the-world sailing organized in 2018.

“It was built as a bomb-proof tank, so that I would never have thought that out of the 36 boats participating in these two races, it would be the Asteria that would sink.”

According to Lehtinen, the boat did not crash into anything, noting how he woke up to a bang from the stern of the boat, which may could have been inside or outside the boat.

“I lived in symbiosis with the boat for 13 months, so even in my dreams I reacted to the boat’s changes.”

It took the skipper about 20 seconds to get out of his cramped sleeping quarters, by which time water was quickly coming in from the stern area.

The boat had three watertight bulkheads in the bow and two watertight bulkheads in the stern, and all the hull penetrations were on the back side of the forward bulkhead at the stern of the boat. If a hose were to break, the leak would be confined to the stern of the boat, which it wasn’t.

“The water was coming from behind at such a high speed that the only thing I can imagine is that one of the biggest openings would have failed completely and filled the rear compartment with water and led to the failure of the watertight bulkhead. But I still wonder if a hole with a diameter of ten centimeters is enough to fill the boat in five minutes.”

MORE: In a blog post by Peter Foerthmann, he speculates how the stern may have incurred significant damage due to the auxiliary rudder system. For photos and details, click here.

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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

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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