Throughout history seamen sailing across the oceans have been the symbol of courage. “To be honest, I consider myself a little bit of a sissy”, says Tapio Lehtinen, who was the first Finn to finish the Golden Globe Race. Lehtinen circled around the globe without stops and spent 322 days alone on his sailing boat . “I strongly believe that if you’re going to do something dangerous – which this race definitely was – you have to be a bit tentative.  I try to avoid situations that might lead to danger. Dangerous sails are all about excellent preparation and anticipation that help avoiding bigger risks”, Lehtinen describes. “In my opinion sisu is a better concept than courage. Especially in sailing, courage includes a certain tone of recklessness which does not work in this sport.”

Big thoughts and birds
All scales are different for a person who has sailed around the world compared to us landlubbers. The longest time that Lehtinen spent without seeing a single sign of mankind was two months. The only thing that reminded him of still existing in this century was the trail of a jet flight spreading across the sky. “But I didn’t see the plane.” The most important company he had were albatrosses, that have existed millions of years on planet Earth. But Lehtinen did not feel lonely. “Many wondered how I held up. In that sense I am very Finnish. I truly and honestly enjoyed the solitude and silence.”

Despite heavy storms and technical difficulties, the 10 months Lehtinen spent on the sea went by in tranquillity together with his thoughts. Same straightforward routines gave form to days, weeks and months. Sailing, reading and listening to music on C-cassettes filled his days. “It was pure luxury that I really had time to think. Although I slept for a couple of hours 3–4 times a day, I had a lot of dreams, and after waking up also time to reflect on them. Pure solitude and silence can be recommended for everyone.”

Endless moments inside his head made Lehtinen reflect on others’ and his own life. “I could say I had an almost religious awakening during the journey. I strongly believe that in the future we have to get rid of the constant need for gathering more materia and remember that the Earth has to be passed on to the coming generations as well. It requires true courage from all of us to act accordingly. I’m not saying that the year on sea made me a better person, but at least I enjoyed it.”