Istvan Kopar (65)

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, is a professional sailor and U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain who has logged more than 60,000 nautical miles sailing solo. His proudest accomplishment to date was his solo one-stop 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 31-foot 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 top finishers in the 1992 America 500-Columbus Transatlantic Race, and won the Kapry’s Trophy in the 1995 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC).

He says of the GGR: “This race is 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 Vendée Globe or Volvo circumnavigation races are becoming increasingly dependent on manmade equipment, and less dependent on nature. They start to look and act like astronauts in space, getting more and more isolated from nature. There is a demand for that, and it is all well and good, but we still need ‘Optimists’ during our upbringing. And for the very same reason, we need races like the GGR to maintain our heritage and seamanship, as well as to increase the number of self-sufficient, independent, and consequently happy people in the world.”




Name Puffin
Type Tradewind 35 Cutter
Designer John Rock
Builder Tradewind Yachts (NL)
LOA 35.01ft / 10.67m
LWL 25.82ft / 7.87m
Beam 10.50ft / 3.20m
Draft 5.51ft / 1.68m
Displacement 19442 lbs / 8819 kgs
Sail area 725sq. ft / 67.35sq. m

Istvan Kopar purchased the 1986-built Tradewind 35 class yacht Puffin in 2015 to compete in the GGR. Istvan and his team have since stripped the inside and outside of the boat and added more layers of fiberglass to improve her durability. Other modifications included decreasing the size of the cockpit and improving its drainage, adding a watertight bulkhead inside the bow, and installing an additional freshwater tank.
During this work Istvan removed his wristwatch, not just because it was an obstacle at times, but to stop himself from checking off the days like minutes. He has won much-needed support from friends and the industry, in particular Alexseal, Seahawk, Selden, Windpilot, Wempe, BaoBab Group, and Bayside Canvas. Puffin was relaunched in November 2017 following a comprehensive 2-year refit. Initial sea trials took place in Oyster Bay, New York, before she was hauled out again for the winter. Puffin is now painted bright orange and was due to be re-launched at the end of March. Istvan planned to use the transatlantic crossing to complete his 2,000-mile qualifying sail and intended to base himself in Southampton UK prior to the start.

Skipper Updates

November 19th 2018 12:00 AM

Istvan is now catching up with Susie only 380 miles ahead but just clipped the edge of the North west corner of the NO GO ZONE sailing a total distance inside the zone of 1.59 miles. At the time he was sailing at 4.2 knts. Both Susie and Mark Slats have been sailing very close to line but Istvan is the first to move inside it. It appeared he would miss the corner but he was headed by the wind at the last minute and dipped through. A time penalty of 6h and 40 minutes have been applied for the incursion.

November 15th 2018 12:00 AM

Istvan is feeling better in the Pacific than in the Indian Ocean. He enjoyed a gorgeous day yesterday, sunshine, moon and sky, birds, and dolphins swimming along Puffin for more than 30 minutes… But “i need rain” he said, because he is running very low on water, with less than 45 liters left. He is receiving the transmission and report of an hungarian HAM operator on HF. Few miles away from New-Zealand, he can reach the NZ radio frequencies to get some news update.
With still half a world to go, Istvan is planning to round Cap Horn for Christmas, and to be in the Atlantic for New Year !

November 14th 2018 12:00 AM

Istvan, 200 behind the english, is delighted to pass his first Cape without being stuck in a storm like it was the case for the 4 other caps he rounded so far ! After New Zealand marking the entry into the Pacific, only remains Cape Horn.

November 12th 2018 12:00 AM

“GD NO TIME FOR READING CONSTANT HAS SLE and EPAIR ON WINDPILOT KEEP ME BUSY” The entry into the Pacific seems a little complicated for ISTVAN, currently in southern New Zealand. A strong north wind that will first hit TAPIO in the middle of the Tasman Sea will catch up within two days and if the US-Hungarian skipper should escape the strongest of this gust of wind, from which he will likely remain in front of, he may have to manage a sea a little messy near the coasts. Istvan finally went to the hairdresser this morning!

November 7th 2018 12:00 AM

The crossing of the Tasman Sea looks serene for ISTVAN, 900 miles from the Estonian and 200 miles from the English lady. The crossing of a violent depression in the south in 4 days, however, should raise a large swell that could make the approach of southern New Zealand uncomfortable, especially as the wind may be relatively low at that time …

November 5th 2018 12:00 AM

Sheltered from the storm since Friday, Istvan crossed the mandatory Gate yesterday at Kingston Beach, and has just left the Tasmanian shores at sunrise. Puffin attacks just now the first miles of the Tasman Sea, 200 NM behind the Englishwoman. Both will benefit from relatively mild weather in the coming days.

November 2nd 2018 12:00 AM

ISTVAN Had some real challenges trying to get into Recherché bay and has instead now safely anchored at SOUTHPORT BEACH as a PORT of REFUGE about 35miles south of the Boatshed.com Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania film drop. He will sit out the extreme weather there till early Sunday morning then head to KINGSTON BEACH.

November 1st 2018 12:00 AM

ETA Istvan to the Boatshed.com Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania Hobart film drop is 0200UTC on 2nd NOV or FRIDAY early afternoon Hobart local time. He will be running ahead of the strong STORM approaching from the SW. Istvan is racing ahead of it to hopefully reach the Boatshed.com film drop buoy before the peak and while he has not advised his intentions yet we think he may stay on the bouy till it passes.

October 29th 2018 12:00 AM

ISTVAN is getting prepared to finish off with the Indian Ocean, in which he avoided the worst gales, but it has not spared him. With the accumulation of the technical problems for the American-Hungarian, he thought to have embarked the ghost of Murphy… It shows à good progression this week, catching up on Susie, still 320 miles away.

October 26th 2018 12:00 AM

Istvan accumulates technical problems … His unit YB3 allowing him to write and receive text messages takes no longer any charge. GGR Race Control had to reactivate its second unit, hoping that the charging cable still works properly and is hopefully dry. This is in addition to the fact that he has only one satellite phone available remaining. The list of his spares is gradually dwindling, but he still has all the necessary means to communicate properly.

October 12th 2018 12:00 AM

Puffin is still drying out, everything electronic is stuffed on board and not even any time signals for Navigation…but he is still smiling and strong!! With the storm passing under him in the next days.
Even though ISTVAN KOPAR’s relatively northern position in the mid-fleet, encouraged by a warning message from GGR Race Control, should allow him to avoid the worst of the system. The general strengthening of the wind over the coming days, could be accompanied by a significant drop in temperature, but should also allow him to progress east and to gain ground on MARK SLATS.

October 9th 2018 12:00 AM

The peloton consisting of ISTVAN KOPAR, TAPIO LEHTINEN, and SUSIE GOODALL are slowly coming up on MARK and UKU and the arrival of a good depression in two days should allow these three skippers to nibble for more miles, around a wide band of high pressures that will move to ISTVAN and TAPIO before the arrival of the depression. “GD MURPHY MOVED IN PERMANENTLY HFLC DISFADIN GOUTAS THE LATEST DEVELOPM”

October 5th 2018 12:00 AM

ISTVAN KOPAR is pushed by the winds and should continue to progress properly these next two days, bows pointed to the east.
Today on the phone, he tells us that he had a relatively “calm week compared to the last storms”. He was able to refill his water supply with the rain, one day after he helped the English navigator in lack of water, by offering him his container. Also, he managed to repair his radio that works better now.

September 29th 2018 12:00 AM

Behind, ISTVAN KOPAR, as well as SUSIE GOODALL, TAPIO LEHTINEN, and LOIC LEPAGE will have to face a much more violent system. Fortunately, they are located, following the recommendations of the organization of the GGR, high edge of the gale. But their relatively northern position should also preserve them from the bulk of the swell and the wind.

September 25th 2018 12:00 AM

“GD TKS FOR THE GOOD NEWS and OUTSTANDING COORDINATION WISHING FAST RECOVER” ISTVAN KOPAR, has benefited from better weather conditions than the leading group, even if the swell generated by the gale of this weekend is still consistent. Alongside TAPIO LEHTINEN and LOIC LEPAGE, he is sailing on the high edge of a northwesterly wind system that will become even stronger before waning as he moves south-west … Wind directions will allow him to progress towards the direct route, fully East. Note that ISTVAN KOPAR who overtook TAPIO LEHTINEN is now behind the finland due to a tough passage of the depression this weekend.

September 20th 2018 12:00 AM

The next 48 hours are expected to be violent for the fleet…In fact, two low pressure systems could lift swells of more than 10m and winds exceeding 50 knots. Istvan Kopar has already faced it last night, Puffin was knockdown around 4:30, damaging his communication means, but he is ok.

September 19th 2018 12:00 AM

Istvan still sailing along with Tapio, was heat by a storm last night : “WAS BEATING 35KT SENELY LAST NIGHT WHICH SHIFTED INTO ANLY STORM BY AM TRY” ; Puffin“ SAILNLY STORM GOT HERE AND AM AND GOT DROP TRY SANDD PLOYDROGUE ABOVE 60KT” He still seems to have some problems with his windvane, and is getting ready to face the new storm system developing in the south, and arriving through in the next 48h.. “GD YESTERDAY STORM SLOWED ME DOWN TODAY THE LACK OF WIND I HAVE NEVER BEEN A” “FAN OF THE INDIAN OCEAN BETTER PREP FOR THE WORTH”.

September 13th 2018 12:00 AM

“We are in the second quarter of the race now”. He says. Istvan reported to the Race Control this morning during his weekly safety call, that he saw the barometer go down at once last night around 4am, and was impressed by lightning, without thunder! Scary, unique and silent ..Then, the sun rose, beautiful and everything calmed down, the conditions were superb. Istvan #Kopar (via satellite) “Bien6èmeàpasserlecapd’Agulhas,3foiscôtéouestmaisc’étaitleSudouest”

September 10th 2018 12:00 AM

Day 70 : rounding Cape of Good Hope ! This morning, ISTVAN KOPAR and TAPIO LEHTINEN found themselves rounding the Cape at the same time within 1 mile of each other, allowing eye contact, after so many days of sailing, and after good trajectories. different …

September 6th 2018 12:00 AM

“GD IN MAJOR STORM IT’S ROARING STORMJIB AND TRYSAIL”Similar storm in Similar place in Similar time as SUHAILI 50 years earlier. Istvan Kopar Solo Circumnavigator getting on with his adventure is still smiling!”

September 4th 2018 12:00 AM

After his nice progress last week, Istvan seems to have had few troubles lately : (via satellite) “GD MY SELF STEERING LEFT ME ALONE AGAIN IN A NASTY STORM DURING THE WEEKEND” and he is writing this morning : “GD IN MAJOR STORM IT’S ROARING STORMJIB AND TRYSAIL”.

August 30th 2018 12:00 AM

This is going pretty well for the last trio of this GGR 2018. ISTVAN KOPAR is the fastest, at nearly 6 knots. He has traveled more than 130 miles in the past 24 hours. He even overtook TAPIO LEHTINEN, close to him in his north. Last, MARK SINCLAIR slips to nearly 5 knots, is catching up on Istvan.These last three boats should not suffer too much in the coming days, even if the wind will go down slightly. They will be the first to touch the front coming behind them and this powerful zone of fresh wind will reach them on September the 1st and then sweep the entire fleet!

August 22nd 2018 12:00 AM

Istvan goes to a headwinds zone that stands in his way South. He has been like in “Daroller Coaster” the past few days.

August 16th 2018 12:00 AM

Istvan is progressing well at 5.3nds, and enjoys his adventure. He has not yet replaced the broken halyard, nor repaired that gas leak, but his water leak is almost fixed. He is worried about his water supply (via satellite): “FRESH WATER DUE TO LACK OF RAIN DRINKING WISA CONCERN NOW “ and the suddent icy cold temperature last night pushing him outside on the deck last night to check / monitor possible icebergs with his spotlight!

August 14th 2018 12:00 AM

Istvan is enjoying a good breeze to go across for the moment, and he should be in a good position in the next few days to progress at a good speed. Istvan #Kopar (via satellite) GDYDPLUMBERTDELECTRITIANINTHEMOSTBUMPYTWRIDEEVERCROSSINGBRAZI

August 9th 2018 12:00 AM

At the back, Istvan speed off through the southeastern tradewinds well established. He told us today that he must find a solution to repair a leak at the bow of the boat, because at the moment he is emptying 50 liters of water every 2 days from the front compartment. He also mentions that he will have to clean up the many barnicles already attached to the rear of Puffin.

August 6th 2018 12:00 AM

This morning, ITSVAN KOPAR crossed the equator, in 13th position. Puffin is now well established in the southeast trade wind symbolizing the exit of the Doldrums when diving south. The Americano-Hungarian is indeed spinning at speed and has the best average of the race in the last 24 hours, with nearly 120 miles sailed. In its wake, only ANOINE COUSOT remains, in Chichester Class.

August 3rd 2018 12:00 AM

There are only two boats left in the northern hemisphere, in the 2018 Golden Globe Race, Antoine in the Chichester category, and Istvan who is closing the overall ranking. Istvan has finally tacked to the south west, and is still a little more than 300 miles away from the imaginary line, symbolic passage to the south… He reports in his last text message, a problem with his Winpilot, whose palle was damaged. Still some repairs to plan for Istvan!

July 27th 2018 12:00 AM


In the spirit of the GGR and accepting stress may have confused ISTVAN on Rule interpretation and on the basis that no real or materiel advantage has been provided to ISTVAN through the inappropriate use of his satellite phone and his stop in Port, an alternate time penalty has been decided. For breaching NOR 3.1.4 an 18-hour time penalty is given. For breaching NOR 3.1.5 a 6-hour time penalty is given. ISTVAN will now move from CHICHESTER CLASS back into the GGR ENTRANT status. Detail could check out GGR facebook.

July 20th 2018 12:00 AM

Istvan has been wrestling with his boat desperately trying to get Puffin to self steer since the start. Now he is wrestling with whether to stop in the Cape Verde Islands to change his wind vane self steering system. The detail on his charts does not inspire him with confidence in approaching the islands and he knows that the process of changing systems will cost him many days. This is all balanced against the brutal experience of trying to sail the boat without effective self steering. Istvan is a man in conflict presented with tough decisions as a move to the Chichester Class looms large.

July 18th 2018 12:00 AM

Istvan has been engaged in a battle to get his boat to self steer since the start in Les Sable d’Olonne. He has hand steered for most of the race. His messages and his face at the film drop in Lanzarote spoke of one thing, exhaustion. Many would have relented but Istvan is such a determined man. It must have been a heart breaking decision to head for the Cape Verde Islands where he intends to change his self steering equipment. In doing this he will join Antoine in the Chichester Class. Lets hope that this solves his problems and allows Istvan to get some proper sleep.

July 16th 2018 12:00 AM

Istvan has been struggling to get his boat to self steer, reporting that “It is very frustrating. I can’t even go down below to use the heads without the boat going out of control. I have been hand steering since the start and have no energy for anything else. This is the big issue and the biggest challenge will be trying to control the boat in the Southern Ocean. That is really scary. Im sure I’ll be knocked down several times. If it wasn’t for my sponsors, I would give up.” Life is tough on Puffin.

July 11th 2018 12:00 AM

Istvan continues to have problems getting his boat to work effectively with the wind vane self steering system. This is still driving him to high levels of fatigue as he hand steers the Puffin for long hours. He has managed to master the YB3 texting unit now and is sending in his daily messages which is encouraging.

July 6th 2018 12:00 AM

Light winds have played havoc with Istvan's wind vane

Istvan had a frantic preparation in Les Sable d’Olonne and it must have been some relief to get to sea. Light winds have played havoc with his wind vane self steering and the friction of the steering system may be contributing to this. Consequently he is hand steering for most of the day and has fallen under the lure of the Galician coast. Nabil reported seeing him hove too, called out and got no response. No doubt getting little sleep, he sounds exhausted when he made his weekly phone call.

April 5th 2018 12:00 AM

Work on American Istvan Kopar’s Tradewind 35 Puffin has been delayed by four snowstorms to have hit his Oyster Bay base on Long Island New York during the past month, but he expects to set out on his first ocean test to Bermuda in mid-April.
“My schedule has been extremely overloaded. We are currently fitting a wind generator and solar panels and I am working on my safety gear and provisioning.”
Istvan plans to set sail for Bermuda accompanied by his team manager Ian Gumprecht to minimize the risks during this first offshore sea trial across the Gulf Stream before continuing across the Atlantic solo to Southampton where he will pick up new sails and finish the tune up.

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