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Stars of the Sea - Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (born 17 March 1939) was the first man to perform a single-handed (i.e. solo) non-stop circumnavigation and was the second winner of the Jules Verne Trophy (together with Sir Peter Blake). He was knighted in 1995.

Sir Robin Knox Johnston

He was born William Robert Patrick Knox-Johnston in Putney, London and grew up on The Wirral. From 1957 to 1965 he served in the Merchant Navy and the Royal Navy. In 1965 he sailed his Colin-Archer-design sloop Suhaili from Bombay to England. Due to the lack of money he had to interrupt his voyage for work in South Africa and was only able to complete it in 1967.

On 14 June 1968 the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race started at Falmouth. Robin Knox-Johnston rounded Cape Horn on 17 January 1969, 20 days before the only other remaining contestant Bernard Moitessier who was the favourite to do the fastest circumnavigation, but Moitessier abandoned the race. Thus, Knox-Johnston became the first man to circumnavigate the globe non-stop and single-handed on 22 April 1969, the day he returned to Falmouth.

In 1970 (with Leslie Williams) and in 1974 (with Gerry Boxall) Robin Knox-Johnston won the two-handed Round Britain Race. Robin Knox-Johnston, Les Williams and their crew, which Peter Blake was also part of, took line honours of the 1971 Cape Town to Rio Race. Les Williams and Robin Knox-Johnston jointly skippered (Peter Blake crewmember again) a maxi yacht in the 1977 Whitbread Round the World Race. They took the line honours in the second and fourth leg, the ones which Robin Knox-Johnston skippered.

Robin Knox-Johnston and Peter Blake (who both acted as co-skippers) won the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest circumnavigation in 1994. Their time was 74 days 22 hours 18 minutes and 22 seconds. It was their second attempt to win this prize after their first one in 1992 had to be aborted when their catamaran Enza hit an object which tore a hole in the starboard float.

From 1992 to 2001 he was President of the Sail Training Association. During his tenure the money to replace the STA’s vessels Sir Winston Churchill and Malcolm Miller by the new, larger brigs Prince William and Stavros S. Niarchos had been collected. He was trustee of the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich from 1992 to 2002 and still is trustee of the National Maritime Museum – Cornwall at Falmouth, where Suhaili is berthed today. The yacht has been refitted and took part in the Round the Island Race in June 2005.

Robin Knox-Johnston Publications

Robin Knox-Johnston - A World of My Own (New York: William Morrow & Co., 1970)

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

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