Istvan Kopar, a Hungarian born American has been a professional sailor and US Coastguard licensed captain for decades, and has logged more than 60,000 nautical miles sailing solo. His proudest accomplishment to date has been to complete a one-stop solo circumnavigation in 1990-1991 without the aid of GPS. He relied on a sextant, manual chart plotting, and weather forecasts broadcast in Morse code. Sailing a 31ft boat that he had built himself, Istvan completed the voyage in record time for the size of his yacht. Istvan also skippered the winning yacht in the 1996/97 Hong Kong Challenge around the world yacht race,. He was among the first finishers in the 1992 America 500-Columbus Transatlantic and won the Kapry’s Trophy for the 1995 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC). In 2015, he purchased the 1986 built Tradewind 35 Puffin, which he is currently refitting for the GGR.
He says of the GGR: “This race custom-made for me. My first hero and role model was Joshua Slocum, the first recorded solo circumnavigator. He had no land support, no modern navigation and communication devices, or even a mechanical wind vane. He was the real deal. And he was able to accomplish this historic achievement due to his upbringing and constant connection with the oceans and sailing.
We admire the other great sailors, but the gap between nature and its users has been getting more visible by the day. Those competing in the Vendee Globe or Volvo circumnavigation races are becoming increasingly dependent on man-made equipment, and less dependent on nature. They start to look and act like astronauts in space, getting more and more isolated from nature in their ‘spaceship’ of sorts. There is a demand for that, and it is all well and good. But we still need Optimists during our upbringing and training period. And for the very same reason we need races like the GGR. It has a mission, in my view. One of our responsibilities is to maintain our heritage and seamanship, as well as to increase the number of self-sufficient, independent, and consequently happy people in the world.”