Fifty Years Ago, The Journey Begins

Published on June 14th, 2018

At 13:45 on June 14, 1968, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston bid farewell to his parents and the comforts of land, not knowing when he would see either again. It would be an incredible 312 days before his return which cemented him in the history books as the winner of the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, making him the first person to sail solo, non-stop around the world.

Sir Robin and Suhaili, his 32 foot ketch and well-loved partner in that voyage, are back in Falmouth this week to mark half a century since their legendary journey which captivated the world. Arriving to Falmouth Haven Marina, Sir Robin observed the competitors who are preparing to take part in the tribute edition of the Golden Globe Race.

To celebrate the 50 year anniversary and to provide a unique ‘RETRO’ non-stop solo around the world yacht race, in the image of the original event, this inaugural race seeks to draw sailors back to the Golden Age of ‘one sailor, one boat’ facing the great oceans of the world.

Starting July 1, the conditions of the Golden Globe Race which begins and ends in Les Sables d’Olonne, France is for entrants to use only the same type, or similar equipment and technology, that was carried on board Suhaili. The yachts themselves are to to be of fibre reinforced plastic construction, designed prior to 1988 and have a minimum series of 20 yachts built from one mould, and be between 32 and 36 feet of length.

“There are a great collection of boats for this race and an even greater group of sailors,” notes Sir Robin. “Many people are asking if I’m tempted to go around with them again. The answer is no as I’ve been there and done the journey four times now. I’m sure once I’m on the start line I’ll feel slightly envious but it’s their turn this time now. I’m going to enjoy following it all instead.”

Sir Robin faced many challenges during his 30,000 mile journey at sea. From storms and mountainous waves which threatened to de-mast his yacht, a shark who got too close during some boat repairs whilst he was in the water, to spending seven months of his journey being unable to communicate with anyone due to a broken radio during which time many, including his family, feared he might be lost at sea.

Eighteen competitors from 13 countries have entered the tribute Golden Globe Race. On what he thinks will be the toughest about the challenge, Sir Robin says: “Aside from the conditions, I believe the hardest part for these sailors will be the deprivation of communication. Fifty years ago we didn’t have the connectivity that people today are used to – the emails, computers, smart phones and social media. We’re so dependent on being connected to one another now, they have more to lose in that way than I did.”

Source: Morgan Kasmarik, Clipper Ventures

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