Istvan Kopar

 Solo Circumnavigation via 5 Capes
Strait of Gibraltar to Strait of Gibraltar

July 28, 1990 - May 14, 1991

20,250 Miles, 162 Days, 125 Miles per Day
(5.2 knots), 1.059

© Richard Konkolski

Istvan Kopár was born in Hungary in 1953 and grew up on the largest inland lake in Europe – Balaton.

As a high school student, he raced sailing boats and after graduation he went to a college, which offered him certification as a third mate. During his thirteen year service in Mahart-Hungarian Shipping Company as a Purser, Wireless Operator and Third Mate he became familiar with the sea and during his time on the open seas his solo circumnavigation idea was born.


After two years of building, on November 25, 1989, he launched his 31 feet long boat designed by Swedish naval architect Mr. Cardell. He named her Salammbo, after heroine, Hannibal’s sister, in Gustave Flaubert’s novel.



His solo circumnavigation route was based on the old wool clipper races track. He sailed from Strait of Gibraltar on May 28, 1990 via south of the five southernmost capes (Good Hope, Leewin, Southeast Cape, Southwest Cape and the Cape Horn). He passed Cape Horn on March 5, 1991 in full-moon 65-knot storm and finished in Strait of Gibraltar on May 14, 1991.


Salammbo capsized at the roaring forties on the 17th of November, but the skipper has been fortunate enough to sail on without serious damage and to arrive at FremantIe  on November 29, 1990, after four month and one day of sailing. Joined by his wife, Susan, he spent one month there getting ready for the second leg, which took another four months and 17 days.


The navigation was done only by sextant, without radar, satellite or any other kind of modern navigation device. His circumnavigation was remarkably fast for the size of his boat. He averaged 125 nautical miles per day, which was slightly over his boat hull speed (LWL 7.35 Meters, square root of which is 1.059). Unfortunately, Istvan did not cross any antipodes during his circumnavigation and finished 26 days behind his countryman Nandor Fa, who took the honor to be the first Hungarian to solo circumnavigate during BOC Challenge 1990/91.



One year later after his circumnavigation, he entered a crew race from Spain to Bahamas, the America 500 Columbus Race, which he finished second in his boat class. He also won the “Kapry’s Trophy in Atlantic Crossing Rally – ARC 1995, couple years later. In the Hong Kong Challenge Round the World Race in 1997 he won with his crew the Sir Edward Heath Trophy and the Financial Times Clipper Trophy. He then settled in Florida with his wife and two children and is occupied with his marine ventures. Since 1994 Salammbo can be seen in the Museum of Transportation in Budapest.


© Richard Konkolski


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