On Friday, November 18th, Finnish solo sailor Tapio Lehtinen lost his boat in the Indian Ocean. A participant in the Golden Globe Race, Lehtinen was reportedly 450 nautical miles (833 kilometers) southeast of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, when his boat started taking in water. Finnish daily Hufvudstadsbladet quotes Samuel Sorainen, a representative of Lehtinen’s support team, commenting on the fact that Lehtinen’s boat sank in about five minutes:
Of course it has been a bit worrying. At the same time, I know what an experienced sailor Tapio is. We just have to wait for the first boat to arrive [at his position]. … I can’t see how the boat could have sank without physical contact.
According to the website of Yachting Monthly, Lehtinen escaped the sinking boat by activating an emergency life raft as well as his personal locator beacon. The South African Maritime Rescue Coordination Center commenced an operation to reach Lehtinen; in addition, a bulk carrier under the Hong Kong flag changed course and was expected to reach Lehtinen’s position on Saturday the 19th at 13:00 Central European Time.
On Friday night, Golden Globe Race published a Twitter update from Lehtinen, who has access to a satellite-linked line of communication:
Saturday morning, at 6:00 CET, Lehtinen was rescued by fellow Golden Globe sailor Kirsten Neuschafer, who traveled 95 northeast to perform the rescue. According to Neuschafer:
I caught his raft, he came aboard, the [rescue] ship came. They made a lee, I approached them. They threw out a line, we caught it, we tied it onto the raft, and he got back into the raft. They pulled him to the ladder, he climbed the ladder and then they pulled the raft onboard the ship. We drank rum together and then we sent him on his merry way.
Lehtinen is an experienced sailor who, according to his personal website, first sailed around the world in 1981. After his current journey with the Golden Globe Race, he is planning to participate in the Ocean Globe Race in 2023, with a crew onboard.