Istvan Kopar (64)

The United States of America flag, produced by Daniel McRaeUSA


Name Istvan Kopar

Born March 8th 1953

Nationality American

Country of entry USA

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.”



Istvan Kopar has chosen the Tradewind 35 class yacht Puffin to compete in the GGR. Purchased in 2015, Istvan and his team have stripped the inside and outside of the boat and added more layers of fiberglass to improve her durability. Other modifications include decreasing the size of the cockpit and improving its drainage. adding an a watertight bulkhead inside the bow and and additional freshwater tank, He kept the yacht’s name in honour of her original owner who launched Puffin in 1968.
He has removed his wristwatch, not just because it is an obstacle at times, but to stop himself from checking off the days like minutes. “There is just one year to the start, and Puffin is still half-naked.” Istvan explains.
He has won much needed support from friends and the industry, in particular Celestaire, Harken, Sea Hawk Paints and most recently Selden Masts and hopes to relaunch Puffin later this Summer in time to sail across the Atlantic and complete his preparations over the winter in England.

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