#1 Dreams Come True

Hold on to your dreams. Keep your eyes open and bravely grab the opportunities. They may be just around the corner or decades away. Be patient, work for your goals, and enjoy the journey.

Sandhamn, Sweden, July 1990

Our team of teenagers had just finished the Gotland Runt Race, the most legendary offshore race in the Baltic Sea area. I was walking along the pier, admiring the big racing boats, thinking about how to get back home, when a friend told me he had just hitchhiked onboard UBF Finland, a Maxi boat that had participated in the Whitbread last year. They were about to leave in ten minutes, heading for Helsinki. If I would be quick, I might still get on board.

Ten minutes later, we cast off. Wow! I couldn’t believe I would be sailing to Helsinki on THIS boat that I had so closely followed during the last year! When it was my turn to be at the helm, it was a dream come true. I made a promise to myself that I would be involved in the next Finnish around-the-world racing project.

The 1980s was the golden age for Finnish ocean racing, culminating in the 1989-90 Whitbread Round The World Race with three Finnish Maxi boats participating. In the coming years economy collapsed, and ocean racing evolved into a very expensive and purely professional sport. As a result, the next Finnish project never emerged, and my teenage dream slowly faded.

Gosport, UK, July 2023

Here I am, deeply involved in the next Finnish around-the-world racing project. The promise I made to myself 33 years ago is realising after all. A dream come true.

I spoke with our skipper Tapio Lehtinen in August 2019 and told him about the newly announced Ocean Globe Race (OGR) that would bring ocean racing back to its roots and again reachable to ordinary sailors. Tapio had just finished the Golden Globe Race (GGR), a similar retro-around-the-world race, only non-stop and single-handed (of which he wrote a fantastic book!), and he was already well aware of the OGR. He looked around and lowered his voice: “Don’t tell anyone, but I have just made an offer for the boat with which I’m going to participate in that race.”

Helming Galiana for the first time
from UK to Finland in October 2019

Tapio told me he would gather a youth team to offer them a similar experience as he had had as a young student in 1981 when he participated in the first Finnish round-the-world project. He said he wants to pass on the heritage and build the next generation of Finnish offshore sailors. A fantastic initiative, but unfortunately, I was too old to fit into that scope. Nevertheless, I offered my helping hand if he needed crew for boat transfers or any other help with the project. A few months later, Tapio asked if I’d like to join in sailing the boat from the UK to Finland. I said yes.

During the winter, we worked together building the project, and at some point, Tapio said: “Haven’t I always said that the crew would consist mainly of young sailors? Would you like to be onboard?” I said yes.

When the project was announced, we received more than a hundred applications, and during the past four years, we have sailed with dozens of young sailors – practising and learning about the boat, ourselves, and each other. The final OGR team was selected after the 2021 season. The boat, a classic Swan 55 Yawl, built in Finland in 1970, has been extensively rebuilt to meet the requirements of the race. In the autumn of 2022, we completed the required trial sail from Finland to France and back, and both the team and the boat proved seaworthy. We are ready to go!

As Forrest Gump says: “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.” I might add that when life offers you chocolate, you should always take a piece. Because you never know, it might be your lifelong dream.

Galiana WithSecure is a beautiful Swan 55 Yawl from 1970

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    Ville Norra

    Ville Norra

    Ville has worked at Quuppa as the Creative Director since late 2014. Currently, his role is divided between marketing communications and product development. Before joining Quuppa, he was an entrepreneur in the advertising industry, Quuppa being one of his clients, so you could say Ville has been with us since the very beginning.

    Throughout his life, sailing has been Ville’s passion; he spends most of the summer evenings, weekends and holidays sailing. He has been actively racing in the 6mR class for over ten years and has participated in numerous offshore races since the late 1980s.

    “For me, sailing is the absolute way to relax and recharge. Once the lines are cast off, all the worries are left ashore. It’s just you and the sea, the wind, the boat, and your crew. And even though you always should have a plan, Mother Nature may offer you something else. So you must be prepared, act according to the situation, and stay humble. Which is a good rule for life in general.”