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Tapio Lehtinen makes extended stop at Hobart film gate to fix rig

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Finnish skipper Tapio Lehtinen finally reached the BoatShed Com Hobart film gate in 6th place on Tuesday after a 54 hour battle against fickle winds
Lehtinen spent 36 hours anchored at the Hobart Film Gate making running repairs to his boat and rig

Finnish skipper Tapio Lehtinen finally reached the BoatShed Com Hobart film gate in 6th place on Tuesday after a 54 hour sleepless battle against fickle winds to sail round the bottom of Tasmania and up the Derwent River. His Gaia 36 yacht Asteria suffered a terminal engine failure early in the race, and without oars, the Finn had no other option but to wait for the wind to fill in.

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“I have been learning to manoeuvre my 6 Metre yacht without an engine for 36 years, but this boat is a little clumsier, especially with all the goose barnacles on the rudder.” He explained when finally at anchor.

“The barnacles on Asteria are every bit as bad as they are on Uku Randmaa’s 3rd placed Rustler 36 One and All” Don McIntyre observed. Tapio has a huge infestation which must be costing him at least 1knot in boat speed.”

Barnacles apart, Lehtinen spoke generously about his experiences to date. “I love the sea. I love sailing. This race is fantastic and gives me great energy. There is great camaraderie between the sailors and I mostly like the sea, the life, the birds and the waves.”

He said that he had seen very little pollution. “The challenge is to keep the oceans as they are. I haven’t seen any harm done by man in the Southern Ocean.”

Talking about his boat, which was extensively rebuilt for the race but launched very close to the start, he added: "This has been a do-it-yourself kit from the start and during the Atlantic leg, I had my tools, glues and screws out every day trying to fix the problems which cost me a lot of time. But I am pretty happy with the state of her now. It would be nice to have a working engine, but I feel safe with the boat, which is very important. This race is very competitive but the most important competitor is the sea and I think the boat is now fit to fight.”

Asteria and her skipper came through last week’s storm unscathed. “At times the winds are frightening but the boat was rebuilt like a tank and I didn’t feel the storm from inside. “My Windpilot (wind vane self steering system) has been working really reliably so I haven’t had to hand steer at all. I don’t need to be on deck at all other than to adjust the sails and the pilot. I may have been one of the luckiest in the fleet avoiding the worst storms and have only had the mainsail down to the 4th reef and storm jib set once.”

After spending the night at anchor, Lehtinen extended his stay by another 10 hours to check his rig and fix a halyard issue at the top of the mast. He eventually set sail again at 18:30 local time to chase after 5th placed Istvan Kopar, having spent 36 hours at the Hobart Gate.

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