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Galiana WithSecure and Evrika complete McIntyre Ocean Globe Race

by Ocean Globe Race 25 Apr 14:52 PDT 25 April 2024
Team Galiana WithSecure gracefully drifting across the McIntyre Ocean Globe 2023-24 finish line © Don McIntyre / OGR2023

It was a long, painfully slow final two days to complete their circumnavigation. But, finally, Galiana WithSecure FI (06) and Evrika FR (07) crossed the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line in a moody windless, moonlight Cowes arrival.

The Finns arrived at 23:12 UTC 24th April to a fanfare of flares and cannon fire from the stern of the Swan 55. The Finnish families, friends and fans expected nothing less from the passionate sailors. Upholding sailing traditions, the most impressive sail wardrobe of the fleet, OGR-themed songs, and yes, cannon fire being a hallmark of their adventure. And they didn't disappoint on their arrival. After wallowing just miles from the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line for two painful days due to lack of wind, Galiana WithSecure FI (06) finally completed their epic round-the-world adventure with the sleek style and class they've become renowned for.

Skipper Tapio Lehtinen and ten crew beamed with pride after completing their circumnavigation placing 9th in line honours and 8th in IRC for leg 4. It was a frustrating final few days for the Finns as the lack of wind halted progress 40 nm from the line - forcing the Swan to anchor in 50 metres ensuring they didn't lose miles due to the strong currents. The wait seemed like forever for those waiting in Cowes.

At 54 years old, the Swan 55, the oldest yacht in the OGR fleet, is raced by the youngest crew. She has turned heads and gained admirers around the world with her stunning design and immaculately polished deck - all that before she shows off her wardrobe!

The Sparkman & Stephens designed yawl has completed a drama-free race, placing 10th in line honours and 6th in IRC for both Leg 1 and 2. Leg 3 was an improvement, arriving into Auckland 6th over the line and 3rd in IRC.

Skipper Tapio Lehtinen who sailed in the 1981/2 Whitbread aboard Skopbank of Finland, is determined to pass down a sense of pride in Finnish sailing among young sailors. Something he has no doubt achieved with his crew.

"It's kind of sad that it's over. I have the same feeling I had 42 years ago after the Whitbread that if there was a 5th leg I would be ready to continue. The team onboard is fantastic and I had the time of my life sailing with them. It was a difficult leg with the weather and losing the podium place but the thing I'm so happy about is that it never affected the feeling onboard. The laughter and jokes continued; they may have gotten worse but they kept coming. Everyone has learned about sailing and navigation, but maybe about life too," said Tapio.

And while this OGR might have been drama-free for Galiana WithSecure, this has not always been the case for Tapio. The much-respected Finnish skipper made international news during the 2022 Golden Globe Race after a dramatic rescue in the Southern Indian Ocean when his yacht Asteria sank. Following the rescue by GGR winner Kirsten Neuschäfer, Tapio, not deterred by the experience, returned to Finland to work on Galiana WithSecure and prepare her for the OGR. She was the yacht he had dreamed of owning since his youth.

But disaster would strike once again when just 46 days before the OGR Galiana WithSecure was dismasted in the Rolex Fastnet Race 12 hours after the start. This proved particularly shocking as the Swan had been completely rebuilt - including all new masts and rigging. There were question marks over whether the crew would be able to get the yacht ready in time for the Southampton start on 10th September but long hours and many hands got them to the line. Not only did they start, but first mate Ville Norra who has been part of the Finnish National Opera Choir entertained the crowds singing "At Sea" standing aloft on the pulpit! Ville has been known for his OGR themed songs since Southampton and didn't disappoint in Cowes with a debut performance of his latest hit.

The final days onboard Evrika FR (07) were just as frustrating for the crew who have impressed so many with their achievement. The immaculate Swan 65, skippered by the beaming Dominique Dubois, completed their circumnavigation under spinnaker at 02:28 UTC 25th April placing 10th in line honours and IRC for leg 4. The crew, made up of family and friends have proved that it is possible to sail around the world like it's 1973, dining well, quaffing wine and as Dominique likes to say "living the dream." He has often joked that sailing with friends and family is wonderful - except you can't fire them!!

The French yacht placed 11th in line honours and 12th in IRC for leg 1. Rankings improved for leg 2 ranking 8th in line honours and 7th for IRC, leg 3 saw them arrive 9th across the line in Punta del Este and 9th in IRC.

Skipper Dominique Dubois is delighted to have completed a lifelong dream - despite running short of cigarettes close to the end which might well have proved even more disastrous than the windholes.

"It was an amazing journey. I'm tired, the end was so hard, it was too long, but we are here now and it's just fantastic. Extraordinary. It will take me some time to realise what we have done, but for now I'm very, very happy to be here. What an adventure," said Dominique.

Mirabelle Frantz, Dominique's partner, spoke about her circumnavigation as someone without enormous sailing experience before setting sail from Southampton last September.

"I'm very proud to have completed this enormous adventure. I'm looking forward to a bed that doesn't move and clean sheets that smell nice," said Mirabelle,

There was a time when it looked like Dominique might not make it to the start line of the Ocean Globe Race but he displayed epic quantities of endurance to get the 1982 Ketch prepared in time for the September start in Southampton. His previous boat entered in the OGR, Futuro, sustained damage just months before the race when storm Gérard blew her off her cradle in the boatyard. Dominique found and acquired Evrika and kept his dream alive of sailing around the world.

Speaking about that challenge he admits it was not easy.

"The biggest challenge was having to redo everything in just four months instead of two years. I was racing to the race. Changing the boat from a British flag to a French flag was a nightmare. So much to do and plans kept changing every day," said Dominique.

There was also drama at the start of Leg 4 in Punta del Este when Evrika and IRC winners of leg 3 Triana FR (66) came a little too close for comfort resulting in Evrika colliding with and spearing a harbour navigation buoy with their bowsprit. Evrika's bowsprit was ripped off and pulpit and furler damaged - which they managed to repair en route but that slowed their progress for the first few days.

Meanwhile Sterna SA (42) and Explorer AU (28) make progress towards Cowes. Sterna ETA 27th April. Additionally, Team Translated 9 (09) has just departed from Madeira, Portugal today, after completing necessary repairs. They are en route to Cowes, UK, to cross the Ocean Globe Race 2023 finish line and complete their circumnavigation, despite being officially out of the race.

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