Sailor lost in Gotland Rund

An experienced 65 year old Finn washed overboard

Wednesday July 3rd 2002, Author: Bob Fisher, Location: United Kingdom
A highly experienced 65 year old Finnish ocean racing yachtsman is believed to have been washed off his yacht and drowned yesterday while taking part in the Accentura Round Gotlant Race.

The yacht Argon of Mauri Luukkala was to the west of Gotska Sandön when the accident happened and arrived at the finish in Sandhamn, sailed by the remaining four men in the crew and escorted by the Coastguard.

His son Vesa Luukkala, was crewing on board the incident occurred, said that is was a wave hitting the yacht from behind that washed his father overboard. All rescue attempts failed to save him. "We feel deeply for Mauri Lukkala's family and friends," said Fredrik Feldreich, race director for The Around Gotland Race and CEO for the organizing club, Royal Swedish Yachtclub (KSSS). Since 1937 when the race was first held the Gotland RUnd has been spared of serious accidents.

Following the arrivals of the trimarans Nokia and TIPC in firt and second placs, third boat home was the 100 ft Ron Holland designed SuperMaxi 100, Next!, the first monohull to finish the Accenture Gotland Runt, shortly after 2200 in the evening. The big blue sloop crossed the finishing line on port tack having led the single-hulled boats all the way from Almagrundet lighthouse on the way out.

Her delighted skipper confided that while the beat to Hoburgen had been hard, it had been a great deal easier on his boat than on any of the others in the race. "Size counts sometimes," he said. He was grinning until the crew members decided that it would be right to "Duck the winning Cox" and in the tradition long held in water sports, tossed him off the deck of the boat into the water at the dockside

Next finished the Round Gotland with an elapsed time of 1 day 8 hours 23 minutes 32 seconds.

In the cool damp light of the morning, the power of the Volvo Ocean 60s racing in the GR Open Big Boat class has become increasingly clear. With the wind dropping after the first to finish, Bertil Soderberg's 100 foot Next had crossed the line, the indications were that the SuperMaxi 100 might carry all before her and add a handicap victory to her line honours win.

But this was not to be when Neal McDonald brought home the second-placed boat in the Volvo Ocean Race, Assa Abloy across the line 48 minutes later to claim the handicap prize. Second and third places were taken by two other VO-60s, Matt Humphries' SAP Northern Light (formerly Swedish Match) and SEB, skippered by Gurra Krantz; these two reversing their finishing order due to a slightly more favourable handicap given to the elder boat.

But with a 1-2-3 finish, and two more, Thomas Blixt's SEB II and Hans Hamel's Atea, in fifth and sixth, the only boat to stop a complete rout was Mats Nilsson's Essex Girl, a Stephen Jones design. Finishing eight and a quarter hours after Assa Abloy, she was placed fourth. Next was seventh.

Overall on handicap

Always a threat, no matter what the handicap system, three of the IMX-40s entered in the Accenture Gotland Runt took the top places in IMS 1 class. They were led by the highly professional X-Team, skippered by Johan Dehlin, sailing the eponymous boat.

X-Team finished seven minutes 25 seconds ahead of Tom Lofstedt's My-X shortly before midday, and added a little to the margin with a slightly more favourable handicap. Hans Johansson's Blues claimed third place; all three displacing Pontus Elmer's ILC-40, Aquavit that had earlier looked set to take the top prize.

Ludde Ingvall's Royal Blue was first to finish at 0132, but had slipped down the rankings to tenth as the smaller boats began to make inroads on the leaderboard.

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