Sunk despite meticulous preparation

Published on December 1st, 2022

Of the boats competing in the 2022-23 Golden Globe Race, Tapio Lehtinen was stunned that it was his Gaia 36 Asteria which sank. Yet that’s what happened 460 nautical miles SE from Port Elizabeth, in South Africa.

Lehtinen was successfully rescued, but remains at a loss for what failed on Asteria which was profiled in this report by Yachting World:


Sparkman and Stephens aficionado Tapio Lehtinen believes his Gaia 36 Asteria is the perfect vessel for the rigors of the Golden Globe Race, despite being the oldest yacht in the fleet having been built in 1965. Lehtinen completed the 2018 edition, the first ‘re-running’ of the famous solo non-stop race, in 5th place in the same boat, after being hampered by ineffective anti-fouling that resulted in massive underwater growth.

However, a bigger refit than anticipated meant Lehtinen was not able to fully realize his vision for the boat last time. He bought her in 2017 in Italy, but it was only after sailing home to Finland that significant delamination was discovered in the deck. Eventually the entire deck and coach roof was sliced off and used as a male mould for its replacement.

Sail GP

At the same time, the hull was stripped right back to a shell, with all furniture and bulkheads removed. Even the gelcoat and top 1mm of the hull laminate was ground away and then relaminated with Kevlar to improve impact resistance against collision with floating objects.

“The boat is now how I would have liked it to be four years ago,” he said in Les Sables d’Olonne the day before the start, “but then we just didn’t have the time to get to this standard.”

The Gaia design dates from 1961 and Asteria is the second boat of a total of 15 built. She has very similar lines to the Swan 36 which was first launched just two years later, although Asteria’s rudder is mounted on the trailing edge of the keel, rather than the Swan’s more modern fin and skeg profile.

“It’s the only boat in the GGR that was originally designed for racing,” Lehtinen added, “and I wouldn’t want to race with a cruising boat.” Nevertheless Asteria is much modified compared to her original specification. – Full report

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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.

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