February 8, 2023

Byte Class Technology

Byte Class Technology & Sports Update

Extraordinary boats: Tapio Lehtinen’s Gaia 36 Asteria

Tapio Lehtinen’s Gaia 36 Asteria is the oldest yacht entered in the ‘retro’ solo Golden Globe Race, and has some abnormal modifications for this exceptional occasion

Note: Because this piece was composed Tapio Lehtinen had to be rescued in the Golden Globe Race right after his beloved yacht, Asteria sank in a mere 5 minutes. It is unclear at this minute what the lead to of this abrupt sinking was. As this report attests, Lehtinen was meticulous in his preparing for the celebration and was dismayed to eliminate his boat in such a manner. 

Sparkman and Stephens aficionado Tapio Lehtinen believes his Gaia 36 Asteria is the excellent vessel for the rigours of the Golden Globe Race, irrespective of remaining the oldest yacht in the fleet acquiring been created in 1965. Lehtinen finished the 2018 edition, the to start with ‘re-running’ of the well known solo non stop race, in 5th put in the same boat, soon after getting hampered by ineffective antifouling that resulted in significant underwater expansion.

Having said that, a even larger refit than expected meant Lehtinen was not in a position to absolutely realise his vision for the boat very last time. He bought her in 2017 in Italy, but it was only immediately after sailing property to Finland that important delamination was discovered in the deck. Finally the total deck and coachroof was sliced off and utilised as a male mould for its replacement.

At the exact same time, the hull was stripped appropriate again to a shell, with all home furniture and bulkheads taken out. Even the gelcoat and prime 1mm of the hull laminate was ground absent and then relaminated with Kevlar to improve impact resistance in opposition to collision with floating objects.

“The boat is now how I would have preferred it to be four a long time back,” he instructed me in Les Sables d’Olonne the day just before the start off, “but then we just didn’t have the time to get to this common.”

The Gaia structure dates from 1961 and Asteria is the next boat of a complete of 15 built. She has pretty similar lines to the Swan 36 which was initially launched just two several years later, while Asteria’s rudder is mounted on the trailing edge of the keel, alternatively than the Swan’s a lot more modern fin and skeg profile.

Whilst substantially modified, Asteria is the only boat in the Golden World Race that was initially designed for racing. Photo: Golden World Race

“It’s the only boat in the GGR that was originally intended for racing,” Lehtinen extra, “and I wouldn’t want to race with a cruising boat.” Yet Asteria is considerably modified in comparison to her authentic specification.

As well as a few watertight compartments and foam buoyancy in the bow, there’s a pair of watertight bulkheads aft, which are not required for the race, but make sense for the rigours of the system. The first is just forward of the rudder tube, though the second is a pair of feet further ahead. All as a result of-hull fittings are positioned among the two, virtually eliminating the probability of a unsuccessful skin fitting sinking the boat.

Regular cockpit locker lids are infamous for permitting in drinking water during significant weather conditions. Consequently flush-fitting Lewmar hatches were utilised in its place when the new deck was fitted. The deck now also has a wider cockpit coaming to aid the fitting of huge winches – there are a few each side. At the very same time the cockpit nicely is narrower than the primary. It was specified to exactly suit the width of the liferaft, minimising the volume of drinking water the cockpit will keep when pooped by a wave.

Hand and foot steering

The pretty substantial aluminium tiller has an extension that in benign circumstances enables Lehtinen to steer from the front of the cockpit, the place there’s a crystal clear perspective of the telltales. Noting that Jean Luc Van Den Heede, who won the initial edition of the revived Golden World by a huge margin, hand steered for a large amount of the race, Asteria is also established up so that Lehtinen can steer from a placement of ease and comfort and security in correctly challenging circumstances.

As we publish this, Lehtinen is in 2nd in the 2022 Golden Globe Race. Photo: GGR/Etienne Messikommer

To do this he tailored an idea from Bernard Moitessier in the initial 1968 Golden World. He can sit in the companionway, wholly enclosed by the cuddy and washboards, steering with his ft in stirrups, from which strains are led again to the tiller.

The extremely-sleek cuddy is also a exclusive element. Those of some Golden Globe boats seem vulnerable in a knockdown, or incorporate significant windage aft, which may possibly impair steering downwind in wild disorders when these boats lack the management of more contemporary models with spade rudders. Nonetheless, Asteria’s cuddy design was centered on these made use of for racing powerboats and, irrespective of being exceptionally light-weight, is rated to face up to capsizing at all over 100 knots of boat velocity!

The 12mm standing rigging is massively oversized, even though the mast, chainplates and surrounding construction are beefed up to match. Image: Rupert Holmes

Resilient rig

When the coachroof was rebuilt Lehtinen took the possibility to reduce the width of the companionway. It now precisely satisfies his frame, so he doesn’t rattle around in the place in tough temperature. There is also added strengthening at the companionway, with total height fore and aft bulkheads every side that are bonded into the hull framework.

Lehtinen says the value of that is some thing he remembers from Miles and Beryl Smeeton’s experience on their 46ft ketch Tzu Hang, which misplaced the coachroof when pitchpoled on the method to Cape Horn in the late 1950s.

Lehtinen demonstrating the webbing ‘cage’ over his bunk to quit him being thrown out in the celebration of becoming rolled in excess of or a severe knockdown. Picture: Helen Fretter

For this edition of the race he also modified from a WindPilot to a Hydrovane. This satisfies Asteria very well as the chord length of her keel is unusually short, which suggests the rudder hung on its trailing edge is a very long way forward and has minimal result. Having said that, the Hydrovane’s auxiliary rudder, mounted on the again of the extended, drawn out counter exerts lots of leverage. In several ways it hence is effective extra like the spade rudder of newer styles and will allow Asteria’s major rudder to be locked off, acting like a trim tab.

A few furling headsails make for swift and simple sail transitions. Photograph: Rupert Holmes

One particular of the adjustments Lehtinen has created considering the fact that the 2018 race is to healthy a steady line furler to the forward forestay that enables hank-on sails to be furled. Towards the finish of the race, when his large light-weight genoa was worn and weak, there was a risk of it being irreparably destroyed in squalls as it was time consuming to douse. The reefing process implies the sail can be wrapped away incredibly immediately.

Downwind this stay can also be utilized for the hank-on storm jib. Having said that, when sailing upwind the storm jib can be flown from the babystay in conjunction with a fourth mainsail reef (in lieu of a trysail) to give a far more well balanced sail approach. To give the mast acceptable help for this Asteria has a 2nd pair of jogging backstays.

Standing rigging, ordinarily 7mm or 8mm wire for a boat of this size, is upgraded to a massive 12mm, with Norseman-design terminals and both chainplates and the surrounding framework beefed up to match. The mast, new for the 2018 race, is of a heavier segment than normal.

The Yankee on the most important forestay and staysail are the two roller furling sails and were being made use of for the earlier GGR. They’re made of incredibly major Dacron, with significant reinforcement, and have been fully serviced like re-stitching where it was uncovered vital.

Mainsail reefing is carried out totally in the cockpit, utilizing different luff and leech pennants. The sail is set up with twin sheets, each with a obtain main to opposite sides of the cockpit. It is a straightforward arrangement that gives fantastic control more than sail shape without the need to have for a traveller. The boat is set up with two poles for gybes, though the leeward foreguy can be led aft as a preventer. There’s also a jockey pole to continue to keep the spinnaker pole off the guardrails.

It is also visible that there are numerous significant stainless metal handholds on deck and that jackstays are as shut to the centreline as doable. Given Asteria’s narrow beam and great finishes Lehtinen utilizes a small tether to make certain he can by no means be washed in excess of the guardwires.

Confined house

His bunk is on the starboard side of the saloon, with a deep leeboard supplemented by webbing straps throughout the best, to make certain there is no opportunity of currently being ejected and hurt even if the boat is rolled by way of 360°. A steering compass and barograph at the foot of the bunk indicates Lehtinen can right away check vital details on waking up, which include the price of change of atmospheric strain.

The smooth cuddy was at first made for racing powerboats and can endure a capsize at 100 knots. Photo: Rupert Holmes

The remainder of the interior is really functional, with a sail stowage region forward, a little navstation on the principal bulkhead with the permitted electronics: VHF and SSB radios, in addition an aged faculty weather fax that allows synoptic charts and even satellite weather conditions illustrations or photos to be downloaded via HF radio. These are all encased guiding water-proof panels.

Asteria specs

LOA: 10.97m / 36ft 0in
LWL: 7.77m / 25ft 6in
Beam: 2.95m / 9ft 8in
Draught: 1.83m / 6ft 0in
Displacement: 6,985kg / 15,400lb
Sail space: 50.17m2 / 540ft2


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