Uku Randmaa (EST) crossed the Les Sables d’Olonne finish line at 09:00 UTC yesterday to secure third place in Golden Globe Race. Thousands lined the river entrance to catch a glimpse of this quiet spoken 56 year old Estonian solo circumnavigator and his boat.
Waiting for him at the dock was his wife Maibi and young twins Thor and Orm who were born shortly before his departure, together with the family of fellow circumnavigators who he had kept each other going through good times and bad over the radio. Winner Jean-Luc Van Den Heede was one of the first to shake his hand followed by Dutchman Mark Slats, and two who were rescued in mid-ocean, Loïc Lepage and Susie Goodall.
With just three packets of powdered soup remaining, he grabbed the pizza offered to him with both hands. The champagne was also something to savour, but before quaffing a drop himself, Uku thanked God for his safe return and poured some in the water, then thanked his boat One and All, sprinkling more on the mast and saved the biggest amount for his second crew-mate – his Hydrovane self steering before passing it round his fellow GGR skippers,
“I think I must have lost at least 20kg,” noted Randmaa. “By Hobart, I knew I was going to run short of food so I divided up what I had left by two…and then I divided it by two more. I had two meals a day; a freeze dried dish and a cup of soup, but it has been very good for my health. If I did physical work, I got tired early, but it was not a major problem.
“The hardest part of the voyage was lack of wind. I was stuck in the St Helena high pressure system for more than a week. My biggest worry was keeping the boat in one piece. I was worried that if something broke I might not be able to finish the race.”
Another reflection on the voyage was the amount of rubbish in the oceans. “The biggest pollution – mainly plastic – was after rounding the Cape of Good Hope. There were streams of it in the ocean. At one time time I came across a door and on another occasion, a complete tree. If I had hit that, I think my steering would have broken.”
What did he enjoy most? “Oh, the Southern Ocean: the waves, the loneliness. The waves were amazing. I watched them for hours and everyone one was different.”
Barnacles were a continuous problem. “At Hobart, someone said ‘I have good and bad news for you Uku…The good news is that you could cut 10 days off your voyage time. The bad news is that you have to clean the bottom yourself!’ “It was quite scary to see your boat from outside. The waters were round 6°C. I wore my survival suit but it was very buoyant so I had to put lines under the keel and pull myself down to scrape the hull.
“This was my biggest dream in life and I am very, very happy to have realized it…And for that, I have to thank my wife.”
Randmaa rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 5th place, and moved up to third in the harsh conditions experienced in the South Indian Ocean that led to the rescue of three other competitors, Indian Abhilash Tomy, Irishman Gregor McGuckin, and Frenchman Loïc Lepage. The Estonian was in 3rd place by the mandatory stop at Hobart and maintained this position to the finish despite a 72 hour penalty he received on January 20 for private routing information gained from a ham radio operator.
Fourth placed American/Hungarian Istvan Kopar is now within 950 miles of the finish and is expected to reach Les Sables d’Olonne on March 18-19.
Finland’s Tapio Lehtinen is not expected to finish until May.
Relative positions of Lehtinen and Knox-Johnston in their virtual race around the Globe.
The 2018 Golden Globe Race started for 17 skippers from Les Sables d’Olonne on Sunday July 1, 2018, with the inaugural solo non-stop around the world yacht race expected to take 9-10 months to complete.
The event marks the 50th anniversary of the Sunday Times Golden Globe solo non-stop round the world race in 1968-69 when rules then allowed competitors to start from ports in northern France or UK between June 1st and October 31st.
A notable twist to the 2018 Golden Globe Race format is how entrants are restricted to using the same type of yachts and equipment that were available in that first race, with the premise being to keep the race within financial reach of every dreamer.
The rules allow for one breach of the strict solo, non-stop un-assisted circumnavigation without the aid of modern electronic navigation aids regulations that make this Race unique. However, those that do move down to the Chichester Class as if, like Sir Francis Chichester in 1966-67, they have made one stop during their solo circumnavigation.
Those who breach the rules for a second time are deemed to have retired from the GGR Event and the organisers have no responsibility or obligation to them.