Estonian finishes third in epic recreation of solo global yachting race

Uku Randmaa.
Uku Randmaa. Source: Uku Randmaa Golden Globe Race 2018

Estonian sailor Uku Randmaa has finished third in the Golden Globe yachting race, arrived in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, on Sunday.

The contest began on 1 July 2018, recreating the near-legendary 1968-1969 Sunday Times Golden Globe race, won by Robin Knox-Johnston, on its 50th anniversary.

It took Randmaa just under the expected 252 days to circumnavigate the globe, which started at Les Sables and saw the participants sail first south, then eastward round the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, across the Indian Ocean, passing Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia, then traversing the Pacific, passing Cape Horn, Chile, to port, then northwards back to the French coast.

The entrants could use only navigational technologies available at the time of the original Golden Globe race, so GPS or SatNav devices were forbidden, though modern-day safety equipment was permitted.

Various other regulations for entrants' yachts included that they be designed prior to 1988 and have a minimum series of 20 yachts built from the one mould, and have a hull length between 32 and 36 feet (9.75-10.97 m).

Of the 18 original entrants, who all sailed solo without stopping (except in the one-stop ''Chichester class'', which sees one current competitor still sailing), six finished or remain in the race at press time. The race was won by Jean-Luc van den Heede of France (finished 29 January), with Dutchman Mark Slats in second (finished 31 January) and Uku Randmaa in third, the only other sailor still in the race to have finished so far.

''Film gates'', where yachts sailed past a film crew without stopping, but engaged in interviews and could pass over letters home and other effects, were conducted at various points on the route.

Randmaa an experienced sailor

Randmaa, who had sailed once round the world before, used a Rustler 36-class yacht, a popular choice amongst entrants, and that of the first- and second-placed men too.

The original Sunday Times Golden Globe race, whose judging panel was chaired by Francis Chichester, himself recently being the first person to sail single-handed around the world via the clipper route (ie. the same route both the original and 2018-19 races, used), attracted nine, rather colourful entrants, mostly from the UK.

Some were experienced sailors; one of them, Chay Blyth, had no prior sailing experience (though he had rowed across the Atlantic in 1966). One entrant, Nigel Tetley, saw his catamaran sink with only 2,000 km to go while he was leading (he was rescued). Another, Donald Crowhurst, faked his progress and was later presumed to have committed suicide after jumping from his boat, knowing his deception was likely to be revealed later. Robin Knox-Johnston was the only eventual finisher of the race.

A video of Uku Randmaa arriving in Les Sables d'Olonne and taken from social media is below.

Istvan Kopar (US), Tapio Lehtinen (Finland) and Igor Zaretskiy (Russia - competing in the one-stop ''Chichester'' class) have all yet to complete the current race.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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