SIR ROBIN KNOX-JOHNSTON
2014 3rd Route du Rhum
2012 5th Open60 Rhum
2006 4th VELUX 5Oceans
1995 Knighted by the Queen
1994 Jules Verne Trophy
1985 World Champion Cats
1970/74/76 1st Round Britain
1969 Awarded the CBE
1968-69 first man world solo non-stop, 313 days
SIR ROBIN KNOX-JOHNSTON
THE ULTIMATE PIONEER
THE LIVING LEGEND RETURNS TO THE RACE TRACK TO RE-WRITE THE HISTORY BOOKS
Name: Sir Robin Knox-Johnston CBE
DOB: 17TH march 1939
Age at start of race: 67 yrs
Marital status: Widowed. Suzzanne (d.2003). 1 child: Sara (43 yrs)
Residence: Newton Abbot, Devon
Boat name: SAGA Insurance
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston
The ramrod back, booming voice and military bearing are testament to time spent in the British Merchant Navy and Royal Navy Reserve during the late 1950s and 60s and once encountered, the strikingly fit 67 year old is seldom forgotten. A sailing idol for many and mentor to a fortunate few, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston instantly forms the focal point when a group of offshore yachtsmen gather: his enormous breadth of experience, inexhaustible repertoire of sailing anecdotes and rolling, throaty laugh are a hypnotic combination.
In July 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin spent 21 hours on the Moon collecting rock samples and transmitting video images and historic soundbites to Earth. Three months before these astronauts first walked on the Moon, Knox-Johnston sailed his double-ended, 32 ft ketch, Suhaili, into Falmouth Harbour winning the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, becoming the first man ever to have sailed around the world non-stop.
Knox-Johnston sailed this singlehanded after 313 days and 30,123 miles alone. While Armstrong and Aldrin were able to chat constantly with Cape Canaveral, Knox-Johnston’s radio equipment failed after two-and-a-half months at sea leaving him with no means of communication and – in a pre-GPS era – reliant upon navigation via sextant and weather information from a mercury barometer.
“Whatever man may invent to make life simpler and safer, we can never control the sea”
Eight years later, Knox-Johnston returned to the open ocean and undertook a second circumnavigation as joint skipper of the fully-crewed Condor in the 1977 Whitbread Round The World Race. In 1993 at the age of 58 – when many sailors have firmly put thoughts of offshore racing behind them – Knox-Johnston teamed-up with the first mate from Condor, Sir Peter Blake, becoming the only non-French team to lift the Jules Verne Trophy for the fastest, non-stop lap of the planet on 92ft catamaran, ENZA New Zealand, in a time of 74d 22h 18m 22s.
“Personally, the thought of being at the beck and call of any phone caller when at sea contradicts the reason for going solo and removes the need to be self-reliant, but I concede it has its advantages”
37 years after his triumph in the Golden Globe Race, Knox-Johnson will sail one of the world’s fastest and most powerful monohulls into the most remote oceans on the planet: a mission that would intimidate any yachtsman half his age. Entering the Velux 5 Oceans is far more than a grand gesture and his unparalleled offshore experience – matched only by Mike Golding (Ecover) and Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) – makes Knox-Johnston a formidable race contender.
Boat name: SAGA Insurance Previous name: FILA Designer: Group Finot Builder: CNB Launched: 1997 Construction: Carbon Type: Open 60 LOA: 18.28m Beam: 5.7m Draft: 4.5m Displacement: 9.5 tonnes Movable ballast: Canting keel Rig type: Rotating wingmast Mast height: 23m Upwind sail area: 300sqm Downwind sail area: 570sqm
Born 17th March 1939, in Putney, London, and the eldest of four brothers, Sir Robin spent his childhood ‘messing about in boats’ before embarking on a career in the Merchant Navy. Going to sea in 1957 as a Deck Officer, his work took him to Africa, the Persian Gulf and India, where he then settled, in Bombay, with his childhood sweetheart Suzanne, whom he married in 1962. A year after their daughter Sara was born, Sir Robin launched his small cruising yacht Suhaili from the ‘Colaba Workshop’, Bombay, on 19th December 1967, and tested her seaworthiness on the journey back to the UK for The Sunday Times Golden Globe. Following the legendary race, Sir Robin launched himself into a successful racing career, in various crewed events. Away from competitive sailing, Sir Robin has also sailed to Greenland to climb the 2,660m Cathedral with mountaineer Chris Bonington, and sailed Suhaili across the Atlantic without any modern navigation instruments.
Today Sir Robin lives in Newton Abbot in Devon and has five grandchildren. His wife Suzanne sadly passed away in November 2003 as a result of ovarian cancer