Hilla Paanase Becomes Second Finnish Woman to Pass Cape Horn in Open Sea Race

Hilla Paanase Becomes Second Finnish Woman to Pass Cape Horn in Open Sea Race

The Spirit of Helsinki boat, the first Finnish boat in the Ocean Globe Race, successfully passed the southern tip of South America. Notably, Galiana WithSecure, another Finnish boat, is also maintaining a strong position in the race.

Jussi Paavosepän, the skipper of the Spirit of Helsinki, navigated the boat past Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of South America, on Thursday evening according to Finnish local time. Prior to Spirit, Cape Horn had been crossed by the French boat Pen Duick IV, the Italian boat Translated 9, and the multinational all-women team on the Maiden in the Ocean Globe Race.

Furthermore, the Spirit of Helsinki had an extra reason to celebrate as Hilla from Paanas, a thirty-year-old Master of Science in Engineering, offshore sailor, and bass player, became the second Finnish female sailor to cross Cape Horn in an open sea boat race. The first to achieve this feat was Mikaela von Koskull, who sailed alongside British skipper Tracy Edwards on the Maiden boat in the 1989 Whitbread race.

The Ocean Globe Race, a homage to the first Whitbread circumnavigation that took place 50 years ago, is currently ongoing. Another Finnish boat competing in the race, the Galiana WithSecure, skippered by Tapio Lehtinen, is set to cross Cape Horn this weekend.

According to weather data, it is most feasible to approach Cape Horn between the west and south-west due to challenging waves, currents, and winds along the coast. For the Spirit, Thursday night offered the perfect conditions to cross.

In the overall handicap competition (IRC), Galiana currently ranks sixth, but is second in the ongoing third leg. Spirit, on the other hand, ranks eighth overall and ninth in the third leg. Despite leading in the first two legs, Spirit has faced issues with the spinnaker sails in the third leg. Similarly, Galiana’s team has had to repair sails due to strong winds.

Despite the complications, skipper Lehtinen told Finnish radio amateurs that the sailing conditions in the Southern Arctic Ocean have not been as formidable as expected. He also noted that winds tend to lighten the closer one gets to Cape Horn.

In the Adventure class (47- to 56-foot boats), Galiana is in second place, the same position as Spirit in the Sayula class (56.1 to 66 feet). Notably, Spirit is a former Fazer Finland boat that secured third place in the 1985 Whitbread sailing.

The third leg of the competition kicked off in Auckland, New Zealand on January 14th. The top boats are anticipated to reach the next port of call in Punta del Este, Uruguay by the end of next week. The journey to Punta del Este, traversing the Atlantic which is considered the sailors’ “home sea”, demands caution due to large groups of fishing boats.

The fourth and final leg of the race is set to begin on March 5. The sailing distance to the finish line in Southampton is a whopping 6,550 nautical miles, or over 12,000 kilometers. The first boats are expected to cross the finish line between the 1st and 10th of April.