48th anniversary of Sir Robin’s Golden Globe victory

22 April 2017

In 1968, when 29 year-old Robin Knox-Johnston set off for the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, striving to be the first person to sail single handed, nonstop around the world was not the only challenge he had to overcome.

Robin’s first test began before the race did, as his chances were written off by some. “I was over in Cowes working on the boat one weekend and I remember hearing a reporter saying: ‘There’s old Robin – thinks he’s going to sail single-handed, nonstop around the world.” I said, “Well I’m going to try.” “It can’t be done and in any case you couldn’t do it,” he said. And I remember thinking, ‘You don’t know me. You’ve no idea of my background.’ Assumption is dangerous.”

Sir Robin quickly proved how wrong assumptions can be as he ended up being the sole finisher of the race, crossing the finish line 48 years ago today, aged 30, after 312 days at sea. An epic achievement for which he became well respected for.

"To be able to say you were the first to do something on a planet of seven billion is nice. It changed my life. I left as a young ambitious bloke and came back a completely different person," reflects Sir Robin, who recently celebrated his 78th birthday and remains as competitive as ever.

Never to be underestimated again, Sir Robin continued to achieve great feats in sailing and his prominent sailing career, which continues today, has resulted in numerous honours. The inaugural entry into the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Hall of Fame, Sir Robin has also been named Yachtsman of the Year an unprecedented four times by the Royal Yachting Association.

Aside from his Golden Globe victory, one of his proudest achievements in his life is the Clipper Race, which he co-founded in 1996 because he wanted everyone to have the opportunity to race around the world, an achievement fewer people have embarked upon than have climbed Mount Everest. Over the last twenty years and ten race editions, more than 5,000 people have been introduced to ocean racing through the race.

“There’s no satisfaction at all in staying at home. It’s a very simple thing that I say to all the crews; you’re showing up, and I’m proud of you for this, because you’re not doing something easy. Sailing round the world is tough: you’re doing a hard thing. But you’ll have something to be proud of when you’ve done it. Otherwise, if you just do the easy things, what’s to be proud of? Go for the tough things, paint your life in bright colours. That’s how you get satisfaction in life.”

To see a gallery of images of Sir Robin, click here.

The Clipper 2017-18 Race is currently 90 per cent full with limited availability. If you would like to take part in the adventure of a lifetime, click here.

Watch out for next month’s edition of Calibre magazine to read a full interview with Sir Robin.

The 2018 Golden Globe Race will start from Plymouth on Saturday June 30, 2018. To find out more, click here.

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